Guest post by Jonathan Cohen
There was a time when the movies provided many Americans with the story lines for our love lives, as well as a place to make out. An entire film genre, the romantic comedy, was designed to assist people in this way. These love stories would follow heroine and hero through amusing conflicts and misunderstandings, then bring them together for a happy ending that was also a beginning—possibly a marriage or reconciliation, or at least a long kiss.
If you’re a film buff, and at all a Romantic, you probably have your favorites. The Shop Around the Corner, A Holiday Affair and Philadelphia Story are just a few of mine. I don’t know why Hollywood seemed to make so many great films of this kind between 1940 and 1965, but today the good ones are much more rare. As part of the downward slide toward vulgarity and immaturity in American pop culture, we now have a whole new genre of unromantic comedy designed not to encourage intimacy between partners, but to defend against it, besmirch it and expunge it from the world.
Today we learn about love from Judd Apatow, the Farrely brothers and their endless imitators—all stuck in a mindset that was once associated with twelve-year-old boys. In place of mystery and romance, we get diarrhea and vomiting. Instead of subtle feelings, we get sadism and humiliation, spilled semen and all manner of bungled sex acts. I know I am hopelessly old-fashioned, but I can’t understand how this kind of crudeness and coarseness has become part of mainstream entertainment, or how seemingly normal people continue to pay for this stuff.
Even more mind-boggling is to imagine younger people today, from teenagers on up, who have only unromantic comedies to guide them through love relationships. Picture some teenaged boy nervously applying too much cologne, getting ready for his big date with some mysterious, fluffy-haired female he hopes to woo. All so they can sit together for two hours of Judd Apatow? I have to wonder: what is the desired aftermath to this kind of date? Let’s go park someplace so I can ejaculate on your face?
Fortunately, people with a different vision of romance can still say not to unromantic comedies and stream old movies together. The world may be getting colder and uglier, but we will always have Hepburn and Tracy, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck and so many others to teach us about love.