Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keep Your Eye on the Donut

A romance is...well, its a story about the challenges of loving someone. And that can mean a lot of different things. Let me just quote from a few submissions to www.writeharlequin.com What is Love in fact:

"Love is trust, and not wanting to change someone, but accepting them as they are. If you can't, then it isn't love. But if you can, that love is the everlasting kind. Now isn't that simple?"
—Bertrice Small

"Love is accepting: the good, the bad, the ugly. "
—Emilie Rose

"Love is pain in your heart at the tear in their eye. Love is when your heart sings at their happiness, even if what makes them happy is the opposite of what you needed. Love is knowing when to hold them tight or let them go. Love is the highest euphoria and the saddest moment in life, all rolled into one. Love is living.
—Sheila Baker

That's not always easy. I remember during a particularlyary difficult dating phase, listening to very anti-guy Punk songs (One of my favorites was the X-Ray Specs, "Guy are Not Proud." Great line in it: "Guys are such creeps, they'll even do it with sheep!" Upon reflection, I hope this was not a negative statement about sheep pulchritude, but focused more on the lack of a true sense of choice and consentual participation on the part of the sheep) and thinking...who deserves this? Who should be on the receiving end of actually having to date guys? And then thinking about making T-shirts that read: Men: They deserve each other. (Hey, it was a difficult time).

But on that note, there's a very interesting conversation over at Teach me tonight, an academic blog, about male/male romances & why women find them appealing. Let me quote:

"Because, if, as I argue in my article*, romances are actually about watching the hero figure out and confess his feelings, if they're about watching him move from the "masculine economy of use" to the "feminine economy of exchange," then watching TWO men have to figure it out for and with each other is more than twice as wonderful as watching one man figure it out for and with a woman."

I think there are other forces at work as well (two attractive men to watch, no women to "compete" with, etc.) but I found it a very interesting essay—they were using Brokeback Mountain as an example. In Japan there's a whole genre, Yaoi, with nothing but pretty boys, read by women.

I missed seeing that film, but didn't miss all the hype surrounding it, with the words "Gay Cowboys" on everyone's lips and people constantly being asked publicly if they'd seen the film and having to say no, so they wouldn't be forced to present their opinion on gay marriage, gays in the military or Mr. Cheney or Mr. Regan's progeny’s sexual orientation.

But what really fascinates me is the lack of commentary on Talladega Nights and the gay Nascar guys! While they did make the Sasha Cohen/Girard character French, and thus, I suppose, sufficiently "other" he is clearly happily loyally married to a nice man, has a good life, is a talented, successful, honorable guy (who has Elvis Costello and Mos Def hanging out at his house) and when Will "Ricky Bobby" I'm-just-an-Ordinary-American-Guy Ferrel refuses to shake his hand—he kisses him on the lips instead. No comment.

Talladega also presents an interesting take on the permissive father, the absent father, on understanding, forgiveness, and Mom's Rules (or in this case, Grandma's Rules). It's not without its classic qualities, and I enjoyed it, but hey, I like my mac with cheese. It just has to be the right cheese.

Because love, as we see with Little Miss Sunshine too, comes in many forms. So we can all spend a lot of time parsing words and analyzing elements and arguing about what came first (excuse me, I was thinking chicken or egg!) but the real challenge is the complex, multi-faceted nature of love, not the rules that we surround it with.

And when given a chance some people at least, can keep their eye on the donut and recognize that.

*Frantz, Sarah S. G., 2002. "'Expressing' Herself: The Romance Novel and the Feminine Will to Power," in Scorned Literature: Essays on the History and Criticism of Popular Mass-Produced Fiction in America. Eds. Lydia Cushman Schurman and Deidre Johnson. (Connecticut: Greenwood Press) pp. 17-36. posted by Sarah S.G. Frantz @ Monday, July 10, 2006

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