How to Critique Romantic Comedy

I posted a rant about Maureen Dowd’s op ed on romantic comedy over on PopD, and then it was suggested to me that I might want to address it here, without the easy shorthand of “We’ve been critiquing romantic comedy for nine weeks so I don’t have to tell you how to do it.” So this isn’t a rant, but it is still in response to the Dowd piece, a recasting of that rant for people who haven’t been watching romantic comedy with me for two months. I’m still annoyed as all hell at Dowd, but I’ve stopped foaming at the mouth.

If you’re going to do a serious, intelligent critique of a genre, you have to do more than say, “Oh, my God, it’s terrible, don’t you think it’s terrible? I think it’s terrible. I’m having such a good time saying it’s terrible with you.” You have to actually discuss the genre, explaining why you think it’s terrible, where you think it’s falling down, how it could be better. Otherwise you’re just a couple of Mean Girls sneering at actresses who probably don’t have that much input into the script (but Aniston and Garner are such easy targets or, as Snotty Guy in the op-ed says, “Anybody named Jennifer”) while you mourn the loss of the good old days when you had to walk five miles through the snow uphill both ways to see Bringing Up Baby and Annie Hall. This pretty much tells your reader that you know zilch about romantic comedy, but by damn you know what you like. Continue reading