Romance films are here to stay. Here is an adaptation from an article in The LA Weekly defining the mindset behind the new model of cash cow romantic chick flick. Specifically, it discusses Nicholas Sparks’ romance novels which have been repeatedly adapted to box office success. What’s the secret formula?
In these times of economic uncertainty and social upheaval, audiences are reverting to good old fashioned romance, knights in shining armour needing to be tamed, and damsels in distress needing to be rescued. We need to relieve the nostalgia of uncomplicated, happier, familiar times of yesteryear.
Consider the soothing, reassuring images in his films such as “Dear John” and “The Notebook”; running along beaches during sunset, phallic lighthouses stoic and warning us of danger, steaming cups of freshly brewed coffee and wholesome girls in turtleneck sweaters waiting until they get married or their lovers’ return. As hackneyed as these scenes are, they connect with audiences (especially of the female variety) because they portray a romanticized, fifties style version of courtship when women aspired to baking the perfect meatloaf.
When our economic and romantic chips are down, faith pulls us through. It’s not necessarily bible bashing, but subtle affirmation of our humanity and our ability to bounce back. When we’ve lost everything, we fill our time helping others such as volunteering free medical help in “Nights In Rodanthe” or building houses for the homeless in “Dear John”. How’s that for escapism?
NO INTERNAL DEMONS
The schmaltz of our lovers ensures they rarely have inner demons; no substance abuse problems, kleptomania or anger management issues. Unlike many romantic comedies where couples are initially forced apart due to personality clashes, romances involve external conflicts such as war and terminal disease. If they do have inner demons, it’s always someone else’s fault; such as divorce or unemployment. Combined with faith in a higher force looking after us, no matter how bad things get, these are welcome messages for the depression era.
TILL DEATH DO US PART
Like all good tragedies, someone must die. It’s morbid, but it’s poignant. The strength of a couple’s love will transgress all barriers. In Greek culture dead people are referred to as “forgiven”, so a loss of life is also an absolution of sin.
A good old fashioned love letter is the heart of all romance, Sparks style. Not a text, email, IM or tweet in sight. Much like a man proposing on a bended knee, we like to revert to proven basics during tough times. By looking back we can plan the future and avoid the bleakness of today. How else to you think the Baby Boomer generation came to be?
Much like Cinderella, these girls are beautiful, but not stunning, austere, but not dull. They knit and cook with flare; a far cry from the high-powered women in “Sex In The City”. Such characters present an element of comfort and attainability, especially for the hapless men in these films. These girls readily soak up the wisdom of their fathers, just like the good old days.
Like many heroes, the romantic men are separated by altruistic missions for the greater good, such as war, medical emergencies or sailing the high seas. However, there is always time to write a heart-felt love letter without heading for the nearest house of ill repute once they hit land. Their few unsavoury urges seem to involve fighting, but only the bad guys, so it’s alright. This is a staple of noir films signifying marginalized, emotionally crippled, isolated men returning from war or prison.
JUST DO IT
Like all good girls and boys who’ve waited, a peck on the cheek is okay. They’ve earned it. As long as they’re both wearing at least one item of clothing and kiss each other goodnight, pre-marital sex is acceptable. No drunken, unprotected fumbles here.