Please, Save Me From the Jerk

It was less than discriminating. But, in my defense, I’ve been sick. And I just wanted to rent something easy to take my mind off of it.

So one of the movies I got was The Wedding Crashers. Fairly typical romantic comedy bullshit about a couple of hard-partying guys who find the right girls and fall in love, blah, blah, blah.

There was a mildly interesting shtick where the girl that Vince Vaughn’s character falls for is not *actually* a wide-eyed girl desperate for sex; she’s a woman who likes sex who pretends to be a girl desperate for sex because she gets guys that way. It’s a stereotype of what guys are supposed to want, but it’s at least a little different.

The main relationship, though, is the stuff that romantic comedies are made of. Owen Wilson’s character falls for the typical romantic heroine – she’s smart, enjoys his sense of humor, pretty, vulnerable, rich…and taken. She has the traditional boyfriend: loud, capable of violence when crossed, arrogant, and a total bastard. He’s constantly bragging about his environmental activities to his girlfriend and her family; his only other interest seems to be talking with other rich bastards about the girls he hooks up with behind the girlfriend’s back and how she “is still trying to figure out what she’s doing wrong.”

The smart, pretty, funny, sophisticated girlfriend has been with this guy for three and a half years, but she needs a man who is a rather practiced jerk himself, and whom she knows for all of 3 days (the second and the third days separated by a period of months when she won’t talk to him) to let her in on the secret that her boyfriend is a jerk.

Now that – that is a common theme. The relationship complication is for tension and laughs; I get that. I don’t approve, but I get it. Since one of the people has to be otherwise involved (unlike real life, television lives are too uncomplicated to provide adequate romantic tension), that person’s significant other has to be undesirable, or otherwise, we, the all-too-independent audience might *gasp* side with the wrong person. I’m not saying it’s good or realistic writing, just that I understand the kind of lazy motives that lie behind it.

But even though I know it’s lazy writing, I am still offended; offended that it can be a common theme that a girl needs a man – and one who is a practiced jerk – to tell her that her lover/boyfriend/fiance is not worth her time. I think it fuels – or perhaps stems from – the attitude I get from male friends that they have an unerring sense about which guys are trouble. They think – and tell me – that they can always tell whether a guy will be right for me, and they claim the right to vet any guy I choose.

Please, save me from the jerk. I can’t do it for myself. Is this the post-modern version of the damsel-in-distress, or what?

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