Some Thoughts on Romantic Comedies

I don’t understand romantic comedies.

They’re perennial favorites at the box office, and they all seem to be cut from the same basic cloth. The most interesting thing about Hollywood romantic comedies is the peculiar mythology about love they all share in common.

And a mythology it is. When real people behave like the characters in romantic comedies, they get hit with restraining orders. At some level, we all know that the ideas about love that you find in romantic comedies–love at first sight, love conquers all, love persevers over all obstacles, soulmates always find each other in the end–are as mythical as the Tooth Fairy. Yet for some reason, there is a demand for stories that reinforce this myth nonetheless.

I find the whole thing fascinating.

What is the need in modern society for this myth? Why does it seem that we, as a culture, so desperately want to believe things about love which we know are not true?

I personally find the reality of love much more satisfying and empowering than the myth; a relationship, to me, has more value if I choose to make it work, and it succeeds on the merit of the effort that I and my lover pour into it, than if it succeeds because it was fated. I find the idea that I build my relationships more empowering than the idea that they exist because for some cosmological reason they were “meant to be.”

But it’s obvious to me that mine is a minority opinion. It seems that many of the people around me want to believe that love happens because of forces outside their control, and that happiness is a state of being granted by right to anyone who has found their One True Love.

I don’t get it. This idea must be comforting to people, and people seem to see value in it, but I just don’t get it.