Liz posted a link to Maureen Dowd’s op ed on romantic comedy and my head exploded. This kind of article makes me crazy (and thank you for posting the link, Liz, because it really is relevant). You’ve got two people who know absolutely zilch about romantic comedy slanging at actresses who are actually very good romantic comediennes (Aniston and Garner) because they’ve been in movies where the writing was bad. Why aren’t they smacking around THE WRITERS (and the directors and the actors who mess with scripts, as Toni McGee Causey suggests)? Because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, they’re two people showing off at the water cooler.
This kind of stuff is cheap criticism because they don’t go on to do what criticism has to do to be valid: support their thesis by analyzing their subject, determining their definition of a good romantic comedy, actually DISCUSSING their damn topic. Instead they’re making fun of the stuff they don’t like, mourning the loss of the good old days when they had to walk five miles through the snow uphill both ways to see Bringing Up Baby and Annie Hall without explaining why those movies are good romantic comedies (uh, they’re not) and why the latest romantic comedies are so completely without redeeming value. The most modern movie they could come up with was An Unmarried Woman which, by the way, is also not a romantic comedy. So Moonstruck isn’t any good, When Harry Met Sally . . . isn’t any good, 10 Things I Hate About You. . .
It comes down to the mindset that I found often in grad school, a mindset Dowd should have matured out of by now, the idea that if she doesn’t like it, it’s no good, and nobody else should like it either, and she doesn’t have to explain why or make intelligent analysis (really, you’re blaming the actresses, Maureen? and you’re a writer?) because everybody thinks like she does. For Dowd and her pal, Snotty Guy, romantic comedy is like porn, they can’t explain it or define it, but they’ll know it when they see it. This is Mean Girls stuff, not insightful discussion. Maureen Dowd has had some stupid columns in her career, but this one is right up there with her moronic take on romantic comedy novels in which she quoted and agreed with a friend of hers that women should put down their romances and pick up The Red Badge of Courage because, uh, Dowd doesn’t like romantic comedy novels.
Bad criticism, bad writing, bad thinking. Jennifer Aniston could write a better op ed.