The Evolution of the Affair

Last night I was watching The Philadelphia Story (Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart) which is one of my favorite classic movies. I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a simpler time where a women could get drunk off a few glasses of champagne and feel the urge to go streaking or young men could drink and beat their wives in the process of an ugly divorce only to provide a few laughs about 20 minutes later. Well, okay maybe there are those obnoxious girls who get plastered after, like, one double shot and I’m pretty sure men still beat their wives… only it doesn’t get any laughs. But that’s besides the point.
As I was watching one of my favorite classic Hollywood movies, most likely because of it’s unrealistic and slightly impromptu ending, it’s noticeable how movies have changed. For instance, one of the themes in this movie could be argued that it is a wife’s job to understand human weakness even if her husband had an affair. While some people might find the concept shocking (I certainly do) I tend to view it as a pretty accurate representation of life at the time the movie was made. It wasn’t saying that that’s what women should do, it’s saying that’s what women did do at the time. You can make your own arguments for that as well.
However, if you view movies as indicative of the time period in which they were produced, which many people will agree is true, you have to think about what modern day romantic comedies say about modern women. Although we’ve come to believe that a woman can be a strong woman without a man, evidently Hollywood never heard this. The very existence of the romantic comedy is proof alone that these ideals have not changed. Aside from that, you also have to take into account that the woman always ends up with a man in order to validate herself, as if women don’t ever spend the rest of their lives alone. It’s depressing, but it’s true. Some people don’t end up getting married or being with someone at all. Some people end up alone.
Most upsetting to me though is the resolution of romantic comedies. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an authority on romantic comedies by any means, but it seems to me that the woman never ends up with the man she started the movie with. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, i.e. when the man starts out as a friend, there’s still potential for him to be the love of her love she’d just overlooked this whole time. But for the most part it seems that she’s with a guy or he’s with a girl and then one of them realizes that the person they’re with isn’t the right person and they run into the open arms of their “true love”.
Hmmm, let’s see what’s wrong with that picture. First off, if she is the one who is engaged or involved or whatever and she runs off to another guy, she is seen as indecisive. She can’t make up her own mind about guys, how is she supposed to about anything else? That implies that after the credits, in this perfect imaginary life, she will be without control. The man will make the decisions because she can’t decide anything. I mean, first it starts with men, then next thing you know it, she doesn’t know what to make for dinner, and clearly we can’t have that.
Now in the other scenario where she chases after the guy that is with another woman. Um… yeah, hi, can anyone say “homewrecker”? I mean, who in their right mind would wanna be that girl? At least hold out to be the affair girl. For some reason guys always seems to give the affair girls better presents than their own wives… but seriously, what woman wants to be responsible for breaking up 2 people? Just make him break up with her and come running back to you.
And finally, my biggest beef on the subject, running to someone at the end of the movie is like saying “man, I kinda always thought that you were sorta second best… but no, yeah, I want you for myself”. Congratulations on getting the prize! It only comes at the expense of some other boy/girl’s suffering, all because you’re pretty much an indecisive bitch.
I’m just saying, maybe romantic comedies aren’t so romantic after all. Especially considering how insulting it is towards women and they’re the target audience. I’ve never really got that. Or perhaps what it boils down to is maybe I just shouldn’t watch romantic comedies… take your pick.


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