anywhosit, klosterman believes that this moment, forever captured on celuloid, has created undue expectations for women of men. his position is very hetero-focused but i think his point can apply across the multiplicities of sexual expression. as humans, romantic comedies have created undue expectation of the grand romantic gesture. if our partners fuck up, or want to be our partner, or win our favour and achieve sex they must participate in some creative ritual of proving themselves worthy. not an honest discussion or a quiet dinner but rather a big, grandiose, potentially humiliating, and oft ridiculous gesture in a rather (or somewhat) public forum.
maybe it's cute and sure, it's theoretically fucking romantic but what happens when our lovers do not deliver on the grand romantic gesture? our over-the-top expectations are not met and we are disappointed. we constantly set ourselves up for disappointment by expecting these gestures that were created to seell actors and popcorn and by not thinking critically of what our genuine vs. perceived expectations of our lovers are...
but let's be honest, who wouldn't love their lover bursting into our house, guns blazing, set to save a loved one who they were once hired to kill. (that's my favourite john cusack, ps.) maybe we wouldn't? i mean, i don't ever really want to be in a position in my real life where i need to be saved by someone with a gun...
but here's the thing, it wasn't john cusack that ruined it all for me... it was ETHAN HAWKE.
last night, while eating some feelings, i caught a trailer for before midnight - the third in a trilogy that are just about THE MOST ROMANTIC FUCKING MOVIES EVER.
And for me, a girl who loved the scruffy 90s greaseball dude, longed for european romance and dressed as much like julie delpy as her uncoolness and chubbiness would allow, before sunrise (the first in the trilogy) was the one that ruined it all for me.
i was 14 and wanted nothing more than to be swept off my feet by some pseudo-intellectual college student aching to find himself and talk about books on european train.
it wasn't john cusack that ruined love for me, it was ethan hawke (and richard linklater). also, reality bites .
my unreal expectations involve almost entirely around intellect and scruffiness and books. did jesse read books? i don't even remember. but it isn't about what we remember of specifics. it's about how the perceptions of memory have shaped expectation around romance. i actually said no to someone on okcupid the other day solely for the fact that had an egregious spelling error on their profile. (and i spell words wrong ALL THE GODDAMN TIME)
because "romance" as we imagine is a creation of our own cultural artifacts anyway, isn't it? we define romance differently than other cultures do because of a variety of social, political, and economic factors that affect the pragmatic elements of relationships. when finding food isn't at issue then we are more able to develop pop culture promoting these north american ideals of romance.
so what does this all mean?
if the world i live in has created a set of expectations designed to always make me upset enough with my lover to watch a movie where the 'bad' lovers become 'good' by returning pens and holding up boom boxes and inviting us to a puppet show in LA... and then i give that machine some more money and they win and i lose... is that right? as i work to figure out what i desire in a 'romantic' relationship with another human or group of humans i also am learning to manage my expectations in REALITY! of course, some mistakes are unforgivable but that isn't what romantic comedies are about. they are about trivialities and it's the trivialities that are fucking us up... people are fallible and make mistakes (even spelling mistakes) and we have to be kinder to them and ourselves.
mostly, i think we need to be kinder to ourselves... right?
i am going to keeping loving movies that feature outrageous romantic expectation BECAUSE I LOVE THEM... but i am also going to remind myself to think critically about them when caught up in a sweeping wave of swooning... because that will happen to.
and yeah, i know it isn't ETHAN HAWKE'S fault... He's just so damn cute! ;)