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Gender depictions in rom-coms
This article shed light on the gender depictions in the clichés of rom-coms (or, romantic comedies), in a very light-hearted and personal way. The author has broken down her analysis of rom-coms into many aspects, but I shall just mention some (and leave a bit more space for discussion!(: )
The clichéd female protagonist in rom-coms is often the forlorn, damsel-in-distress sort. They do often share the following similarities: slim, well-dressed, and "clumsy, in an endearing, humanizing sort of way".
Two out of these three clichéd characteristics are associated with how an ideal woman looks, often along the lines of Katherine Heigl, (the younger) Julia Roberts, and maybe Rachel McAdams. In short, they are often nothing short of beautiful.
Unsurprisingly, none of these descriptors hint of a high intellect. In fact, clumsiness may even be linked to a lower intellect, but we really can’t take away the clumsiness in some of these rom-coms because how many times have these rom-com couples met over a coffee spill, or a fallen pile of books, or a fateful bump (literally) on the busy street?
This brings another issue: Why must the female be the clumsy one and not the male? Simple; it conflicts with the ideal male protagonist- chauvinistic, maybe boorish, with a “cold, hard, ******* exterior”, and not to mention good looks and ripped abs. Clumsy just does not go well with cool.
In recent years the cliché female protagonist has been contested with the introduction of the “highly strung and socially incapable single career woman”. Still slim, still beautiful, and even more well-dressed. She is a skeptic, if not an ardent cynic, at love.
However, while this may seem like a novel depiction and a potential challenge to the clichés of rom-com female leads, it is interesting to note how power play between the male and female, and the idea of a vulnerable female, has never really divorced from convention.
Firstly, to make up for the newly-empowered woman, the male has become even more chauvinistic, like what Angyal has pointed out, with reference to The Proposal where Sandra Bullock is shown kneeling and “proposing” to the male lead. Visually, this is a simple and complete role reversal, but while superficial acts may fully imitate one, attitudes do not. Women often swoon over how romantic males are when they kneel on one knee and flash a diamond ring and pop the question. But when a woman does it to a male it’s pure power play, particularly in this situation where neither the male or female leads have actual romantic feelings for each other. But of course, like all rom-coms, they fall in love for real eventually. In fact, we all know of the end; we just seem to be interested in the means.
Secondly, no matter how professional-looking, smart, etc the new female protagonist may be, she will always have a soft core, resembling that of the clichéd female protagonist mentioned earlier. In Angyal’s words, “Remember how in The Ugly Truth, Gerard Butler's character reduces Katherine Heigl's character, a competent, professional and authoritative adult woman, to curling up in the fetal position in the closet of her office? And how she then she falls in love with him? Tamed, indeed.”
“Tamed”. This seems to hint that such strong, authoritative women are deviant and ultimately have to “accept their nature” of being that emotionally-dependent (on a male), submissive (to her “man”) woman.
Angyal also brings up a good point about how males are also victimized by such rom-coms but I’ll leave you guys to discuss about that. (:
Latest page update: made by lilsebastian
, Apr 11 2012, 2:21 AM EDT
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