Valentine’s Day is a vomit-inducing holiday. It never ceases to remind me of Michael Warner’s postulation that happy couples are actually akin to hegemonic sexual dictators who cast single people as dangerous, perverted “others.”
Sure, Warner’s theory is pure demagoguery at its worst and ends up being a high-minded excuse for slutty behavior, but why do obnoxious couples have to parade around their sickening bliss in front of the romantically impoverished masses of the singles population? Am I bitter? Of course not. I just hate you.
Cinema, naturally, often doesn’t help. This past weekend, the American public was subjected to the wide release of The Wedding Date, a Debra Messing-Dermont Mulroney romantic comedy about a loser thirtysomething who finds love with her hunky male escort. This weekend, we’ll receive Will Smith’s foray into the genre: Hitch, a film about a “date-doctor” who comes to terms with his own bumbling stupidity when he unexpectedly falls in love with this really super-hot girl.
One can only imagine the stomach-churning optimism of both films, which will likely join the canon of bourgeois Valentine’s Day date flicks proudly carrying the message, “If these idiots can find love, not to mention hot PG-13 sex scenes, you certainly can too! Now go buy the soundtrack!” How then does a singleton, attempting self-actualization and the attainment of some level of personal integrity, find peace amidst this endless parade of monotony in the mainstream cinema, that most domineering and permeable of cultural discourses? Pure, unadulterated cynicism and the snobby dissection of such barfy films as Pretty Woman and 10 Things I Hate About You is the only path one can take. Behold—a sample reading to guide your viewing of whatever date film you choose, complete with the proper atmosphere in which it should take place.
First, gather a good group of single friends, preferably attractive—you will be drinking. Make sure none of these friends are very devoted Christians. Religious tolerance is something that should be sought in the modern world, but not when one desperately needs a social crowd that rejects antiquated moral scruples and has no respect for problematically-assigned gender roles. On a similar note, keep heterosexual attendance at 50% or less—their dating pool is extremely large and their queer friends are really tired of hearing how difficult it is to find a decent mate.
Next be sure to take advantage of your two biggest loser friends—the pimpled liquor store clerk who procures the alcohol and the idiot video store checker who fashions himself the next Quentin Tarantino when he talks about ‘operatic violence’ in Sergio Leone westerns. From the latter, be sure to get a free rental copy of Save the Last Dance. Do not, under any circumstances, pay hard-earned cash to see this film. Don’t even use money from your trust fund.
During the painful viewing of Save the Last Dance, look carefully for elements that prove to jaded audiences how sickening the utopian relationship world of the film really is. First notice Julia Stiles. She’s really annoying in this movie. Why would anyone want to date her anyway? Unless you grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, would you really feel sorry for the well-off suburban girl who is forced to “descend” into the depravity of largely black urban Chicago? Nope. We’d laugh at you. Get some perspective. Also note that the “progressive” miscegenation narrative offered by the film is decidedly PG-13. Think Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts in The Pelican Brief with greater political pretension—not Spike Lee.
Stiles’ obnoxious character, transformed from petite ballerina into hardcore, bass-thumping Lil’ Ballet Kim, falls in love with a hot black classmate. An annoying Valentine’s Day-esque romance ensues, as their peers come to accept the relationship after a nicely lit love scene that brings back painful memories of Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun.
Could this be a realistic film about finding love in an adverse environment and overcoming the odds? Eventually you’ll see (and at this point you should be properly hammered) that the film’s message about love is actually a fantastical joke once its ending arrives and drenches the previous two hours of drivel with an appropriate escape from reality. As Stiles is auditioning for Julliard, she stops mid-way, unable to finish, but wait—hot boyfriend enters the scene, provides encouragement, and she moves directly into a hip-hop ballet fusion piece that drops the judges’ collective jaw! In fact, it’s so amazing that the judges tell her right away that she’s accepted, even though they likely have 5,000 more Mary-Kate Olsen-loving ballerinas to test out.
This ending is so completely unbelievable, so shamelessly ridiculous, that you and your friends will see what a sham romantic optimism really is. Afterwards, watch Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs and you’ll see quite clearly how conventional heterosexual relationships descend into shocking violence and degradation anyway. Then tell Magda how you really feel about her.
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