A Tale of Two Romances
I am going to attempt to illustrate differences in my ideas of romance by using two movies. They are both classic romances, though one garnered a much larger audience, especially among women. I am afraid it both illustrates my point, and underscores my fears. The two movies I will refer to are The Notebook and Notting Hill. I like both movies, and the stories, but one actually doesn’t fit my idea of a good romance, and the other seems a more realistic story.
First, The Notebook. While I like the movie, and the end scene is a tear-jerker, it seems to push a very materialistic view on romance. I am not against having things, for even the most Spartan-living survivalist will use modern tools, and sharing in a small part of the modern economy is a necessity in modern times. What I refer to is the unhealthy obsession with the leading lady in the story by the main man. She snubs him, she leaves him when he is poor and gone for another man with material wealth, and tells him he needs to get some, and finally comes back to him when he does acquire the equivalent of a small modern fortune. This is nearly incomprehensible to me. If this were to actually happen, the woman would be labeled a gold-digger (rightfully so) and the man would be borderline stalker. This seems to fly in the face of almost every single romance story except one: The that appeal to both sexes are the kind where the woman is there, loyal and loving to the man, who is loyal and hardworking. Modern ones may even have both the man and woman working hard, earning their own fortunes. Not this one, or this kind. This is the strange love kind, that so many women admire, and look for. Quite honestly, I think the leading lady character in this movie is laazy, and not worth his efforts. The undying love he has, and the depth to which he holds it, to the point of not living anymore without his love, is quite sweet, and the saving grace, so much so that you forget the crap she put him through because of her character flaws. Maybe it is just the kind of guy I am, but I prefer the stronger flavor of woman, as I heard it put once, I prefer the kind of woman you want to keep, over a kept woman. Which brings me to the story in the next movie, and its type.
Notting Hill is one of my favorite Romance movies. I have a few, as I am a sappy kind of guy who likes rom-coms (shh, tell noone) and watches new ones often. But more importantly for this piece is the two characters, and their differences to The Notebook characters. The main man in this one is a small business owner, not wealthy, but rich in character and friends. The leading lady is a wealthy and famous actress. It seems to be a reverse Princess story with a twist: the man declines the wealth, determined to protect himself from the trappings of fame and the wishy-washy nature of the lady’s business and life. This is a huge difference right here. He is protecting himself in a very special way, trying not to hurt the lady, while still telling her that he loves her enough to stay away. This is after he spent a year (beautifully shown with a single walk through seasons) pining and depressingly meandering through life wanting her. It sheds the materialism for more depth of relations. From the family interactions, to the tongue-in-cheek humor, to the hilarious go-for-broke ending where he luckily hasn’t destroyed his chances with the lady he obviously loves, and she shows him it was real too. This disrobing of the societal wardrobe to emphasize the everyday people beneath is more poignant to me. Her ability to be real despite her cultural status, and his ability to not be fazed by it underscores the main point of both movies despite the character differences: that two people who cannot stand to be without one another are usually happy with each other, and in love. The Notebook does it with two borderline sociopaths, while Notting Hill does it with two people in different socioeconomic statuses. The message is quite similar, but the circumstances are not.
I suppose that is part of the point. I watch and see the craziness of the first, and sigh wistfully at the second. I call it crazy for the first because I have made that mistake, and I know that I have difficulty respecting a woman that brings down feminism in my eyes. I am wistful of the second not because of the fame and fortune, but because finding a woman who is able to work hard, and still shed herself of that to believe in romance in a jaded world is difficult, a rarity in these times. The disparity of the two just emphasizes the character needed to do such a thing. Maybe it wouldn’t happen in today’s world, maybe it does. I have seen a few celebrity couples that seem to fit the mold, and give me such happiness to see, and I wish them well (J Lo & Casper). Perhaps the rarity of this is why I am still single and have never married. I am searching for such a rarity that I may never find her, perhaps I can’t extend my social network far enough to find that diamond in the rough, or even polished. After all, we watch these to give a template to our own ideas of romance and love, so we can better recognize them when they happen. I know I have had enough of crazy, I guess I am just looking for that woman who is able to stand in front of me, and just be a girl, standing in front of a guy, asking him to love her.
I just want to be loved, is that so wrong?
-A Dose of Andrew