Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Myths we live by

I went to see "Enchanted" last week, which was OK, but not as great as I thought it would be given the preponderance of positive reviews. Amy Adams was a treat as Giselle, though, because I found her innocence completely believable, and that is no small feat.

One moment that struck me was just before the big production number in Central Park as Giselle reacts incredulously to the news that Patrick Dempsey's character does not sing to his beloved, and Patrick Dempsey looks completely mortified when Giselle bursts into song.

It made me think that men and women grow up with completely different myths about romance. Yes, sweeping generalization, here, and I don't know how men get away with not having the same myths, being exposed to the same popular culture, but it seems to me that women do get a certain myth of romance that, even if it does not involve production numbers, does involve a certain sense of drama.

I see it in ads particularly. Jewelers ads are a fine case in point. The man comes home with the Kay jeweler bag in hand, or hides it under a Christmas tree, or what have you. Now, are those ads directed towards men or towards women? I would suggest that those ads are for women. The jewelry ads directed at men are far more blunt: "Please the woman in your life with THESE DIAMOND EARRINGS which cost $X."

Meanwhile, there's an appalling ad directed towards men where the young dweeby kind of guy comes home where the tall blond goddess stands unloading dishes. The young man presses a button on her face, which folds back, and he places a new chip inside. Her face folds back into place and she asks, "Do you want to help?" "No, I'll just watch," he says. And I fear that is the myth men are given: the compliant and helpful woman unloading the dishwasher.

It seems to me that women are invariably disappointed when men are not romantic, and men are invariably disappointed when women have complaints. And we are fools if we think we are not influenced by these myths. They are potent and ubiquitous, and an excellent thing to watch out for in the Christmas ads that will bombard us over the next few weeks.

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