There are a few phrases which I utter that cause any alpha-males around me to openly question my heterosexuality; “I’m not really into football” is one; “I starred in the school musical” is another. But no phrase causes sexual-orientation speculation quite as much as…“I like romantic comedies”.
Romantic comedies have long been classified as “chick flicks”. But why are these flicks only for chicks? What’s wrong with a straight guy liking a romantic comedy? There’s nothing girly about comedy. Nor is there anything particularly girly about being romantic. If a guy gives a girl a bunch of flowers, you’re not going to go up to him and call him a “fag”, are you? A romantic comedy is just about a guy and a girl falling in love. I know that popular opinion implies that the male species is emotionally dead and only cares about sex when it comes to women, but here’s a newsflash for you: guys fall in love too. We may not boast about it, talk about it or even admit it. But it happens. So why shouldn’t we be able to watch films about it?
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t embrace all romantic comedies wholeheartedly. Some are far too girly and inaccessible for me. Mean Girls didn’t appeal much and I wouldn’t even dream of watching the likes of 27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada or Princess Diaries. Nor do I enjoy plain romance films, I find them dull – it’s the light-hearted humour and good feeling that rom-coms provide that appeals. Give me a likeable male lead that I can relate to, a female lead that is both interesting and attractive, an intriguing or amusing situation, plenty of laughs, some big romantic moments and a big happy feel-good ending. These are the films I like; classic films such as Groundhog Day, Four Weddings and a Funeral and When Harry Met Sally. There’s also one thing I’ve learnt from admitting that I like rom-coms. I am not alone. Surprisingly often, when other guys hear this they confess that, they too, like them. Plus, now that more and more of us are admitting this, filmmakers are starting to aim romantic comedies at men – resulting with great films such as Definitely, Maybe and 500 Days of Summer.
So, will romantic comedies ever be able to shake off the ‘chick flick’ tag? It all depends on whether guys start to feel secure enough to admit that they have a sensitive side. In fact, I have a suspicion that some of the mocking males love rom-coms too. They’re just too insecure to admit it and instead watch them behind locked doors, with tissues at the ready (for hopefully the appropriate reason). Then again, maybe not.