It's the new black.
1. Is it made by a filmmaker respected for contributions to the cinematic mode? The Coen Brothers made Intolerable Cruelty open with Geoffrey Rush in a ponytail, and you can’t hate anything that starts with Geoffrey Rush in a ponytail. Who are you, a pirate hater?
2. Did Nora Ephron make it? If Nora made it, then it is witty and self-aware and encourages literacy. Also she went to a women’s college.
3. Pull a hipster move and say that you are watching it ironically. This is a limited edition excuse, sold exclusively at the thrift stores where Urban Outfitters designers find their inspiration.
4. Is it based on or adapted from a respected literary text? Take 10 Things I Hate About You or She’s All That. When you watch these Shakespearean adaptations, you’re fueling the narrative adaptability that makes the Bard the Bard. You’re supporting culture.
5. Did Jane Austen write it? Austen is one of the greatest social critics of the modern era. You’re doing everyone a favor and you should really think about watching, in fact, more Austen if at all possible.
6. Have you recently watched a movie that exudes intellectual depth and/or blustering machismo? Saving Private Ryan, The Hangover, Memento or even Inception can work. You’re giving your brain a rest while balancing the cultural influences that shape your subconscious.
7. Does the film feature a beloved actor who is now dead? You’re grieving.
8. Does the film feature a beloved actor who may soon be dead? Judi Dench? Maggie Smith? Bill Nighy? You’re fighting ageism while respecting the elderly. You’re an Eagle Scout.
9. Has a Tolstoyan tragedy befallen you or your family? Use a dead dad pass (or variations).
10. Are you critiquing it from a feminist perspective? Or even a Freudian perspective? This critique will undoubtedly ruin the rom-com and therefore make it safe to watch because (#14).
11. Are you identifying the archetypes and/or stereotypes in a cataloguing fashion, possibly for an untitled encyclopedia of some sort? Then you are watching the rom-com for historical purposes. Heck, you’re watching it for posterity.
12. Are you thinking of Laura Mulvey? The thought of Laura Mulvey purifies all things. (see #9)
13. Are you objectifying the male heartthrobs/hunks/pieces of meat in a spirit of knowing, lustful equality? This curious postmodern cocktail of ethics justifies many (if not most) questionable activities.
14. Are you enjoying it? It doesn’t count if you dislike the movie. Then you are suffering on behalf of all the great artists and art-lovers who are shielded from this patriarchal crap. – GCL, after watching Intolerable Cruelty.
If you liked this, try “Some Notes on the Acquisition of Books at the Library.”
How do you watch romantic comedies without guilt? Any notes to add?