When reviewing a list of favorite movies of mine recently I discovered an interesting trend in titles and genres. I noticed, that among the three-hundred plus films, the selections that would fall into the love and romance category are mostly from a decade (or more) ago, and the ones that would be segregated into the cringe-worthy “Rom-Com” category ( I hate that term), they all seem to have been borne of the 90’s, wavering with hesitation at the start of the 2000’s, and disappearing without much of a death rattle into nothingness. Sure, there are exceptions, most of them plucked from the obscure, “indie” defined, accidentally stumbled on via Netflix variety, but for the most part their inclusion in my list of choices has declined to near extinction. What has become of the cinematic love story? Did we leave our love of love back in the 90’s?
I grew up on two kinds of movies: horror and romance. The dark side of me is grinning a little maniacally at that, thinking to myself “aren’t they the same thing?”, and I suppose in some ways there are similarities, especially when I look at my ex-lover-experiences, but I digress. Back then, when I wasn’t crushing on Vincent Price and Dracula, or wishing I was kissing that Scoundrel Han Solo, I was getting led astray by love stories. They were more damaging than the Princesses from Disney ever could be because somewhere along the way I started to believe in the processes and the inevitable chase through the airport, final kiss, fade to black kind of “happily ever after“. Well, either that or a salty teared kiss at the side of a lover’s deathbed. What a fucked up way to learn about love one might say? Did I grow up waiting for my lover to either chase me down, or die on me? Well, maybe.
Lloyd Dobler fucked me and a bunch of my girlfriends up, that’s for certain. We came into adulthood linking limbs and trading vows with boys who had no ambition, who were only in it to be with us, who shadowed us and lived off of us, while we pursued educations and careers. We became the breadwinners and the one’s in control, while our significant others left dents in the couch, fondled the remote and game controls, and never quite grew up.
Is that part of what brought about the rise of the dominant (let me be clear here, the misinterpreted “dominant”), and more than subtly abusive, Edward Cullen and Christian Grey? Is all that 50 Shades of Sparkling Vampires a symptom of women tiring of being the ones always in charge? The feminist in me balks at the notion, saying that we were always in control, and that’s how we want it to be. But, isn’t there a silent part of me that longs for that Scoundrel from the Falcon ship to throw me up against the wall and take me to the skies?
I know have stood in airports secretly wishing to turn around and find a long-lost someone running breathlessly, shouting my name, calling for me to wait. I have silently stood in the security line, placing my bag on the turnstile, longing for that almost at the runway kiss.
Thinking back at all those scenes from so many of my favorites, I am still here thinking “I’ll have what she’s having.” But what was it that “she” was having that is just not happening anymore? Most “love” stories nowadays end unhappily, and not necessarily in the death rattled “I love you’s” stage, but in the “this isn’t working anymore” place. Is this intentional realism at play? Is it a collective jadedness from all those men and women raised on the kind of love that never happened for them? Have we lost our ability to believe in the kiss at the end of the story? Anymore now, I think Diane Court would have called Lloyd a stalker, Harry would have had to hitch a ride to New York, and Lelaina would have run off with Vickie, leaving both Troy and Michael behind – I mean, love triangles are so 1994, aren’t they? Hell, even Celine and Jesse were seen last on-screen talking about divorce.
That said, my heart still swells when Troy kisses Laney, even if I know they could have never lived off coffee and five bucks.
Maybe it is Troy that ruined me much more than Lloyd ever did, after all.
All I Want is You :: U2