Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wishing, Wanting, Hoping

It always seemed bizarre to me that the book, and now the movie, are marketed as empowering. Since when does inaction make you feel in control? It's ultimately the same philosophy behind The Rules, just covered in a lacquer of sass.

He's Just Not That Into You may be common sense, but it's also based on a woman's (supposed) total powerlessness in starting relationships.

If he's into you, he'll call. Doing anything proactive would be a waste of time, not to mention, pathetic. (As the trailer for next week's film version of He's Just Not That Into You makes abundantly clear, that one extra, unsolicited phone call could be really, really embarrassing.) God forbid, you should pursue some one you truly liked; you might get rejected to your face, which would be so much harder to bear than getting passively rejected by an unanswered voice mail. If the prospect of a real-time dismissal seems worth the risk in certain, obviously rare!, cases, He's Just Not That Into You can't help. Fiona could. Maybe she should write her own book (if she can find time between all the fire fights). It could be called He's Just Not That Into You: Who Cares?

From Slate’s XX Blog

They’re commenting on Burn Notice’s Fiona, how she tries and tries and tries to get her ex-boyfriend, Michael back, yet she’s still totally badass.

I’ve never watched Burn Notice (though I’d like to at some point), so I can’t comment on her. But I will on He’s Just Not That Into You:

I never understood the premise behind The Rules, because I do not believe that love is passive. If I wait and wait and wait for a boy to like me, I will wait forever. You have to be active, you have to let them know—or else they won’t. Hormones will compel you anyway, but there’s no point in hiding behind a mishmash of games. Games will happen even if you’re honest. You have to take the chance.

Maybe what He’s Just Not That Into You is saying is you have the choice of dropping the guy, of saying no, of declaring “I’m not going to put up with this.” Learning they have this option—no matter how obvious it may seem—can be empowering (if not depressing when they see what options they do have).

My mother suggested to me that I’d get a boyfriend if I just wanted one hard enough. Not only did I stifle a brewing argument, I shot down a “So if I just pray really really hard every night, he’ll just come to me—poof!” What kind of agency is that? I already have issues with that whole wanting concept, and I’m clearly not the only one.

Wishing idly does no good. But neither does “just waiting for the right time”, because that time might not come, and waiting and praying for it is a futile, depressing existence.


petpluto said...

"My mother suggested to me that I’d get a boyfriend if I just wanted one hard enough."

That kind of thinking always confounds me; I don't know if people like your mother just expect that guys can look at girls and go, "Oh, that one over there, she really wants a boyfriend. I'll go talk to her" - or if they're just trying to obliquely float the idea that the girl in question is too picky and if she'd only date any slob like Peter Griffin she could have a boyfriend in nothing flat! Which goes with the idea that the presence of a boyfriend is more important than the character of that boyfriend or the compatibility with that boyfriend.

As for Fiona, although I haven't been able to catch the newest episodes, she's an interesting character. I don't know if she fully falls into the "He's Just Not That Into You" trap, because Michael is clearly very into her. But Michael also seems to have some commitment phobic things going down - and Fiona does want the 'normal' stuff like a real relationship and a key, and she's willing to kick his ass and threaten him and put herself in danger in order to get it. Unfortunately for the women of "HJNTiY", Fiona and her ilk have the problem the women of "Not That Into You" want - the problem of the guy who is really into them but feels he can't be with them for XY, & Z reasons; like, he's been burned by the CIA and is fighting for his life and his career or something.

That being said, I'll probably see He's Just Not That Into You at some point in the future, because I love rom-coms. It's a sickness I'm not willing to give up.

John said...

First of all, I'll lend you season 1 of Burn Notice the next time I see you. It's fantastic (and so is Leverage, but for different reasons.)

As for Fiona, she is an incredible badass and one of the coolest female characters on prime-time television. She does try to get Michael to commit to a relationship with her (they have a bit of a sordid history, those two) but Michael isn't willing to abandon his pursuit of justice/revenge. Undaunted, she gets herself a new boyfriend in season 2 and everything is relatively hunky-dory (at least as much as it can be on that show.) What does that mean in terms of HJNTIY? I really couldn't say.

One last thing: They're screening HJNTIY at my parent company next Tuesday, but it's at 6 PM in the City so I doubt you could make it there in time. Let me know if you can, though.