What’s wrong with chick flicks?

the-vow-poster-407x600I’ve more than once heard chick flicks likened to emotional pornography for females. The analogy is extreme, but I think it’s effective in illuminating the fantasy-indulgent nature of the genre.

Chick flicks’ formulaic plots tell women what we want to hear. Just when the lead female character has finally given up on finding the perfect man to make her happy, guess what? She meets the perfect man! And he makes her really happy.

These films are often criticized for fostering the idea that the perfect guy is the key to happiness. The critiquing principle is that women should be self-sufficient and find contentment in themselves rather than chasing it in a man.

I seriously value self-sufficiency. One of the most detrimental things we can do to ourselves is allow another person (or the idea of another person) to control our happiness. Lasting happiness, ultimately, comes from a decision to rely on our personal perspective rather than our circumstance.

But I also think it’s unrealistic to deny that some forms of happiness are, indeed, circumstantial. Romance does make people happy. When you’ve found a person you like, and the feeling is reciprocated, the world just feels better.

And that’s where chick flicks become an issue. They give women an escape to a world where finding the perfect guy makes everything feel better. And that’s wonderful, until we realize that we’ve just watched a 90-minute movie and in in real life we’re still very single. It’s such a tease.

When we excessively indulge in a fantasy of something we want, but don’t have – in this case, the perfect romance – we women do ourselves a disservice. It’s a lot harder to be self-sufficiently happy when we’re constantly reminding ourselves that we lack a certain kind of circumstantial happiness.

What’s ironic is that real-world love stories often reflect the formulaic chick flick plots. It’s frequently when women give up on actively searching for romance that the right person drops in.

But as long as we’re over-indulging in these films, feeding the temptation to seek out romantic happiness, we’re making it a lot harder for ourselves to realize that fate.