Monday, January 7, 2008

When Harry Met a Big Ball of Lies

Recently my friend Jamie has become concerned about her 3-year of daughter Mary's obsession with princesses. Mary loves the stories, the movies, the songs, and recently told her parents that she is just waiting for her prince to come along and take her away. That's what really set Jamie over the edge. She's concerned that her daughter is buying into the age old idea that no woman is complete without a man to sweep her off her feet. Sure, she can be plucky and smart, beautiful and funny, but until she finds true love no girl has reached her full potential. Even if she is a princess.

Not real

While I agree with Jamie that the princess paragon is one that can warp minds, especially in the hands of Walt Disney (why don't any of them have mothers), I think there is an even darker force out there lurking, waiting to spring and twist the self -esteems of girls everywhere. Yes, I speak of the romantic comedy.

Let's face it, the romantic comedy takes the princess myth, blows it up and scatters it in little pieces all over the teenage girls drawn to it like moths to a flame. It starts out slow, with a quirky heroine every girl can relate to, living a life that any girl would want. Then there are some sort of shenanigans, the girl falls in love, falls out of love, and eventually falls back in love to finally live happily ever after. It follows the princess story perfectly, only it usually takes place in Manhattan, there are no singing animals, and the prince is usually a jerk.

Really not real

Yes, these movies show girls that the man for them is most likely the one who treats them badly, and who they despise at first sight. The more difficult the experience, the more rewarding the ending. And the quirkier the heroine, the more jerky the guy. Because quirky girls have to really work to be loved, didn't you know that? Take for example any role ever played by Meg Ryan, who sits on a throne of lies above the romantic comedy kingdom. All of the women she plays are the most adorably annoying people ever to walk the earth. Really, if you met one you would most likely punch her. But there she is, falling down, getting up, wearing iconic hair, and landing her man. Of course the man she lands is the one no one wants to date, and his friends have stopped setting up because of his lack of social skills.

Trust me on this, I spent my all of my teenage years and early 20's watching these movies, and dating jerks. The bigger the jerk, the more I was attracted. I was sure, due to my diligent studying of the Ryan cannon, that there was a heart of gold lurking within each one of them. However, the only thing usually lurking was the woman they were cheating on me with. Yeah, I'm talking about you, John Crenshaw. I was so brainwashed that when I met my sweet, sincere husband I tried to blow up any personality feature that would make him a jerk just to reassure myself things might work out. Of course, that did nothing to further our courtship, and just lead to a bunch of overly dramatic fights that we laugh about now. Well, he laughs, I just try to hide under the table out of shame.

My advice to Jamie, and the mothers of all little girls out there is to let them stay in the princess realm as long as possible. I think as they grow they will realize castles don't exist and neither do princes. Convincing them that a guy not calling them for two weeks means he cares may be harder to knock out of their heads.


Anonymous said...

While I agree with you in theory, I have to say that if Antonio Banderas were to arrive in front of school on a horse to sweep me away, I would say, "Call Tom, tell him it's Antonio, he'll know..." Then I would be gone and live happily ever after...Love, Mom

Amanda said...

Aww Lib, your cynicism makes me cry. How can you not believe in the fairy tale & the romantic comedy?? Just today I watched with glee as little woodland creatures cleaned up my kitchen - and then realized that I had once again drank my shampoo.

I am also of the belief that some day my price will come - and he will look remarkably like Tom Hanks, but with my luck it will be Tom Hanks in his Bosom Buddies drag.