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May 19, 2003
Why Do I Hate To Like Chick Flicks?
I'll be man enough to admit that once in a while I watch what is condescendingly termed a "chick flick": a movie that has an appalling amount of emotional substance, and sure to leave you deeply moved, maybe even make you a changed person. How do I, a white male technophile that loves car chases, end up watching such a movie? Usually it's because it's my wife's turn to pick, or there's nothing else good to rent other than chick flicks.
My reaction is pretty much the same to all of them. If I can find something else to watch instead of a touchy-feely bring-out-the-tissues kind of show, I'll choose the alternative just about every time. If my wife picks up an obviously female-oriented film and says, "What about this one?" I'll usually just shrug, grunt, wince, say, "I guess", or do something equally non-committal that gets the point across that I'm less than interested in the movie. It's not that I dismiss the movie outright... I just let her know that the particular movie in question is well down my to-watch list.
A few weeks ago my wife had a girl's night out with a friend who had recently moved 30 minutes out of town, and was in the latter stages of pregnancy. She brought snacks, some much needed company, and a couple of movies for them to watch. Of course, they were both chick flicks: Maid In Manhattan (sort of like Pretty Women, but with maids instead of hookers from what I gather), and I Am Sam (love conquers all, including a teeny tiny IQ). They watched Maid In Manhattan, but didn't get to I Am Sam. The movies came home with my wife, and as they were 3-day rentals, we had the opportunity to watch them if we so desired. Although I wasn't exactly taken with the selection, a movie's a movie, so we watched I Am Sam.
Well, after thoroughly enjoying the movie, it finally dawned on me that this scenario is not uncommon: For one reason or another, we'll watch a chick flick - that I earlier showed little or no interest in - and enjoy it to one degree or another. When I realized this, I had to wonder - if I keep enjoying these kinds of movies, then why do I continue to try and avoid watching them??
One would think that after a few instances of watching a movie that I would not have normally picked out myself and enjoying it, I'd see the light and come around. But that is most decidedly not the case. So what is working in my brain that allows me to come away from these movies feeling good about watching them, and even being able to recommend them to my friends, but be unable to want to watch another? Apparently, I have issues.
Perhaps it's as simple as denying my emotions. Generally, men aren't as emotive as women are. Thereby, when presented with a movie that is quite likely to try and pluck at our heartstrings, those of us with testosterone pumping through our blood will shy away, as we don't want to expose our feelings by having them drawn out by a touching and heartfelt tale of love, or friendship, or romance, or some such crap. Although the movie moves us, it takes us beyond our comfort zone of regulated emotions and control.
Unlike most topics I write about, I have no solution for this baffling scenario. I suppose I could simply vow to watch chick flicks more often, but even as I write that something in my head screams out against such an idea. Despite knowing that I enjoy such movies, despite having determined the likely reason why I don't want to watch emotional movies, despite reflecting on this situation with this article, I simply don't want to watch chick flicks any more than I have previously. This is a situation that isn't going to change anytime soon, it seems.
The question then becomes: does it need to? Other than frustrating my wife (and myself) when trying to pick a movie to rent or watch, what's the harm in not wanting to watch chick flicks? It's not like I'm going to miss out on conversations with my friends about such movies, and I'm not about to believe that watching such flicks would help me to "grow emotionally". Let's face it: each movie is just a dose of Hollywood feel-good, not an actual emotional experience that one can learn from. That's what real life is for, not movies or any such entertainment vehicle.
So, in a dramatic change for a Not From Toronto article, I'm going to say that the status quo is just fine in this case. Will my feelings ever change? Quite likely - people are constantly changing. I will be a very different person ten years from now than I am today, just as I am changed from who I was only a year ago. Maybe I'll become a real devotee of movies that move me to tears, or perhaps I'll simply devolve into a car chase action flick devotee. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I'll just hope that Hollywood comes up with enough other movies that my wife and I can agree on that chick flicks simply won't be an issue.
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