Action and rom-com have a lot in common, mostly the fact that we basically go in knowing what is going to happen. We know, for example, that Katherine Heigel will play a slightly clumsy, self-sufficient woman who is either madly in love with someone or really wants to get married for no particular reason. We know that the movie will either end with a wedding or a sex scene, and we know that the leading man will start out kind of dickish but end as an emotional, intellectual hero who sweeps our heroine off her feet. In action flicks, a particularly badass fellow will do particularly badass things. He might have a geeky sidekick who he trains to be sort of cool but who will never reach the prowess of the master badass. Given that they truly are very similar at their core, I have to laugh when people talk about men and women being so different. If action is marketed to men and rom-com to women, then really the lesson here is that men and women really aren’t all that different. Ignore that Men are from Mars; Women are from Venus crap, truth is, we all really want the same things in a story: growth, predictability, intrigue, humor, love, and the occasional explosion. Ok, so that last one is really only a feature of action flicks, but imagine how much cooler 27 Dresses would have been if Katherine Heigel had just left a pipe bomb in her closet full of dresses and walked away without looking at the explosion. That would have made that movie much better. They are similar genres, but I’d make the case that the better genre is action, and below I’ve compiled a list of reasons to support my claims.
1. Action heroes are better looking. Ok, so I’m sure some of my male readers are groaning now and thinking “Ah gee, another woman who wants all men to be muscular. Quit objectifying us. Big is beautiful.” Or they would be saying that if anyone used “gee” anymore. This has nothing to do with the muscles and everything to do with confidence. Ok, so it has a little to do with the muscles, but you can’t bite my head off for drooling over a well-muscled (not overly-muscled mind you) man when you probably drool over Victoria’s Secret models. I don’t blame you for looking, so don’t get mad at me. But seriously, action men have confidence, and confidence is sexy. How do you get confidence? By being good at something, which takes us back to the action movie layout. A badass man does the things that he is badass at doing. Who wouldn’t be confident in that situation.
2. The romance in action flicks is far more realistic that in rom-coms. Yep, go ahead, read that sentence again; let it soak in. It’s true. Lets break this down. In 27 Dresses, a man steals pages out of a woman’s date book and then proceeds to surprise her randomly at her home and places he knows she will be. What do we call that in the real world? Stalking. And now I’ve ticked off half my female readers who are all yelling at their computers now, “No, no! It’s sweet! He loves her.” It’s only sweet if you want the guy to chase you. Or how about Bridget Jones’ Diary, in which the hero of the story is the guy that treated her like crap. That happens in every love story in real life. Oh yeah. Hate breeds strong, long-lasting relationships. Nah. And I know that it was based on Pride and Prejudice. I’ll admit, I love Mr. Darcy, but not just because of the love story, rather, because he is so contrite for all that he put Elizabeth through, and because Elizabeth just laughs at him every time he’s pompous. Now lets look at action flicks. In Shooter, for example, Bob Lee doesn’t even realize that he’s in love until they kidnap “his woman”. I am sure we have all figured out that we really appreciate someone after he or she is no longer available. Or in Four Brothers, one brother has a truly volatile relationship that is held together entirely by sex. Call me cynical, but I’m going to bet that happens a lot more often than the flowers and romantic speeches.
3. Explosions and guns are cool. I still haven’t figured out why explosions and guns are supposed to be manly things. Just like I haven’t figured out why being good with tools is a manly thing. What’s so manish about checking one’s oil or digging post holes, and why is there even a market for girly tools in purple, pink, and flower print? Oh well, I don’t come up with the gender standards, so I guess I’ll just have to live with them as best I can. However, I think we can all agree that explosions are the best part of any movie, meaning that if there isn’t an explosion or someone shooting, the movie probably isn’t that great. I mean, I love watching/reading a little Sense and Sensibility when I’m feeling blue, but that movie/book would pick up tremendously if Helena would pick up a AK and set things straight, and in Love Actually, we have the president of the United States and the Prime Minister of Great Britain having a pissing contest and neither of them pushes a red button. The action version of that movie would have had them shooting at each other while some Special Ops American man and the female British Labour Party leader making out while a building burns around them. How could that not be sexy?
I guess the lesson here, if there is one, is to look for the guys in sunglasses walking away from the explosions without looking at them, unless of course they are just arsonists. Also, remember that violence is a better path to love than being a plucky, clumsy girl alone in the big city, and then remember that Charlie Greenberry offers terrible advice.