We like to think chick flicks are about love in its ideal state, that they are about the best case scenario. I would actually argue that they are snapshots of female fantasy.
Now, I can’t speak for all women (actually, I totally can, and you can’t do anything about it!), but I’m guessing most of you daydream as much as my friends and I do about the perfect guy falling madly in love with us and getting married/moving in together and living together in the perfect blend of lighthearted jesting, cute shared traditions, and fiery passion.
And if that’s not your fantasy, I’d bet every dime I have (three if you’re wondering- I have thirty cents in my wallet) that you have some sort of imaginary scenario into which you mentally slide a guy as soon as you find yourself even slightly attracted to them. These, in my professional hypothesizing opinion, range from frolicking together with your dozen cats all the way to scenarios we don’t discuss in good company/ with our parents/withing earshot of the untainted youth that may be reading this blog.
So rather than opening the large can of worms that is the discussion over whether it’s ok to fantasize about “dream guys” or not, let’s take a look the wedding scene from “The Vow.”
In case you’re too distracted by the ape-like expression on poor, talent forsaken Channing’s face, here’s the transcript of their homemade vows.
Paige: I vow to help you love life , to always hold you with tenderness, and to have the patience that love demands. To speak when words are needed and the share the silence when they’re not. And to live within the warmth of your heart and always call it home.
Leo: I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now and forever, and I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love.
Now, on the surface these may seem really heartfelt and yada yada yada. But when you take a closer look, you’ll (hopefully) realize that they could have both just said “I promise to die before the honeymoon is over.” “Whoa,” you say. “Too drastic, Ezra. Don’t you believe in love?” Why, yes, imaginary critic, I do. But “to have the patience that love demands” is a big vow. One that, no matter how much I recommend striving for it in a relationship, you are going to break very quickly.
Oh, and can we take a closer look at “live within the warmth o your heart and always call it home?” Again, it sounds kindof nice, but what does it really mean? Here’s the problem. Unless she’s poorly paraphrasing Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros , it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s concrete enough that we can relate to with “Aw, I want that!” but vague enough that every woman can insert herself into their “personalized” vows and find that she fits perfectly in that scenario. Vague slots for us to emotionally slide our personality into are a big feature of chick flicks. This technique is also used in the paperback romance genre and porn. Don’t believe me? Ask The Oatmeal:
And I hate to break it to you, but Leo’s vows aren’t much better. I don’t know if he knows, but marriage isn’t one long sustained passionate affair. Yes, many married couples have tons of passion in their marriage, and it’s wonderful. But from what I’ve heard (My ring finger is free boys! So if you ever want to set up an adorably unrealistic meet-cute…) there’s a lot of normal life in between. Even Tatum himself thinks so
“‘One of the best parts of being married is coming home and just sitting on the couch with her. Knowing that she will be there and that she understands me and I can tell her about my day, it’s really nice.” -Channing Tatum (about his wife) (dailymail.co.uk)
“All your forms” is pretty simple. It’s vague way of saying “when you get fat” without expressly giving permission or encouragement for her to do so. Again, we can’t wait to slide into that fairy tale. A guy who will fiercely love us when we’re old, ugly, and tired from bearing babies that grow to Channing Tatum’s size!
Bam! English-Majored! (I’m still trying to come up with a word to serve as an equivalent of Marshal Eriksen’s “lawyered”)
Btw, I’m sure (so sure it’s almost creepy) that you’re wondering “Ezra, if you have so much beef with chick flicks, why did you go see “The Vow”).” Well, my dear (definitely creepy), my mother and I needed some bonding time, and nothing bonds more than a good laugh. If you have any conception of good acting versus bad acting, “The Vow” is a knee-slapper. I was literally crying of laughter at one point. NO LIE.