Not so long ago, I walked out of the movie, No Strings Attached feeling annoyed, but it was my own fault. I should have known better than to think that a Hollywood rom-com would have anything other than a fraudulently happy ending.
At first it was fun watching the two leads fumble around, trying to figure out how to be together, but it quickly reverted to cliché. At that point, the troubled female lead suddenly made a turnabout and was ready to commit; this despite there being nothing in the script that could explain her transformation.
Just like in all current rom-coms, the male lead was first full of hope, then fed up with his female counterpart’s ambivalence and then finally decided to write her off. But then true to formula, he too, changed his feelings and took her back.
While sitting in the theatre watching the story turn to mush and waiting for the thing to finally be over, I reflected on how this was one more in a long string of Hollywood hits that bear no resemblance to genuine human interaction.
Some people might say, “What’s the big deal? It’s only a movie,” but I think that No Strings Attached and the other rom-coms out there today are not so benign, as the false expectations they set up can interfere with our ability to have successful relationships.
Not having learned my lesson, off I went to see the movie, Bridesmaids, hoping that a movie written by and starring Kristen Wiig might not follow the same blueprint. I was wrong. Although there were a few good laughs, the love story was the standard issue.
There are a few basic versions of the Hollywood formula for rom-coms. In Bridesmaids and in No Strings Attached it goes like this: cute girl meets cute boy, girl messes up and inadvertently pushes boy away, boy gets angry and takes a walk, an improbable coincidence throws them back together, girl sees the light and wants the relationship, boy forgives girl, love ensues and the credits roll.
Sure, the Hollywood version of romance is driven by the profit motive of the filmmakers and it’s not like anyone who makes these films is promising cinema verite, but no-one is taking responsibility for the way these movies distort our ideas of what a normal human connection should look like…
Read more: Marcia Sirota, Om Times