Friends with Benefits in Hollywood

I recently saw two ridiculous romantic comedies: “No Strings Attached” and “Love & Other Drugs.” Don’t laugh. I was on a plane.

With few exceptions, I am really not a fan of the rom-com, and the word “ridiculous” goes along with them more often than not.

These flicks I find to be horribly irresponsible, if not downright insulting, because they send this general message to women: With the love of a good woman, a jerk will magically transform into a relationship-minded prince who worships the ground you walk on.

Haw. Haw. Oh, that’s a good one.

On the surface level I’m sure most women are aware that these storylines are fiction and yes, we realize real life isn’t actually like that. But we’ve seen this same theme time after time since we were wee little girls, so subconsciously, we wonder why we’ve been hanging on the corner of Hollywood and Vine all these years and still no Richard Gere.

These films have been setting women up with false expectations since the beginning of time (before the rom-com, of course, there were fairy tales), but the two aforementioned movies took on and effectively idealized a relatively new phenomenon in the world of dating and relationships: the fuck buddy.

The central premise was essentially the same in both films: Boy and girl mutually agree to embark on a friends-with-benefits only relationship — but lo-and-behold, chemistry abounds and after a few mind-blowing rolls in the hay, the boy wants more.

That’s right, the boy wants more. The girl does not.

Oh, heavens to Murgatroyd! Where do they come up with this stuff?

Now, I am not saying it is impossible for a guy and a girl to be sex friends and sex friends only. Happens all the time. But how often does the man actually fall in love with the woman in such a situation?

I am not one to say never, but I will say hardly fuckin’ ever. Especially when he looks like Ashton Kutcher or Jake Gyllenhaal.

If anything, the reverse is likely more common. But, naturally, they couldn’t make a movie based on a girl falling for her fuck buddy, because that would just be too much like real life and, in a word, pathetic.

So these movie executives peddle this pie-in-the-sky fantasy to the public, which an innocent teenage girl sees and believes that maybe if she become fuck buddies with the hot guy, she’ll win him over with her irresistible wit and sex appeal. Hell, Anne Hathaway had major bags under her eyes the whole time and Natalie Portman had the personality of a lamp — so if they could do it, so can I, dammit!

See what I mean by irresponsible?

I don’t feel it’s much of a spoiler to reveal the obvious ending to both stories: after much ado, the pair realize they are meant for each other and their souls merge in a state of lovey, gooey bliss. Fin.

And that’s where the filmmakers leave us, with the assumption that the couple remain in that state, happily ever after. But I’d like to explore what might in actuality happen after the script is shoved in a file and the cameras are shut off…

What happens next: No Strings Attached.
After professing their undying love for one another, Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher begin going out on real “dates.” However, being that he’s just a lowly production assistant, Ashton can’t afford much more than Koo Koo Roo. Then when his boss rejects his new scripts, he turns to the bottle. This peeves Natalie, a young doctor, and to top it off, she hates chicken. On the flip side, Ashton discovers that Natalie’s cold bitch persona, while once viewed as a hearty challenge, is now just plain annoying. They bicker and the sex turns lukewarm. Suddenly, that yuppie doctor at the hospital starts looking pretty damn good to Natalie, and Ashton steals off behind the set with the nerdy chick with the nice rack at work.

What happens next: Love & Other Drugs.
Once it is decided they can’t live without one another, bad boy Jake Gyllenhaal and “I can take care of myself” Anne Hathaway move in together. Anne’s Parkinson’s progresses to stage 2 and Jake gets embarrassed when he takes her to work galas and she spills wine all over his colleagues during a bout of the crazy knees. “I turned down a steady stream of pussy for this?” he begins to ask himself. Meanwhile, Anne can sense Jake’s unrest, so she sleeps with his chief client, Dr. Dickhead. Jake can’t believe she beats him to the punch, so he pops a couple Viagra and sets off on a weekend-long bender in the underground sex clubs of Pittsburgh.

How’s that for some sequel action? What say you, Fox 2000 and Paramount Pictures? Do us women folk a proper and stop selling us a fucking pipe dream. Kay?

38 replies

  1. Years ago, I went through a really rough patch when I had to turn to hooking to pay the rent. My best friend, also a prostitute, passed a wealthy client on to me one weekend, and my life was transformed! The millionaire that I turned up to service was handsome and charming, and he showered me with money, allowing me to buy beautiful dresses and jewelery and hobnob with the rich and influential. We had fabulous sex and spent many romantic hours soaking in the jacuzzi and, little did I know, falling in love. By the end of the contract, my john had even severed a longterm friendship and business partnership by decking his best friend who -wrongly of course- assumed I was available to anyone for the right price. Despite this romantic gesture, I fled in tears only to have him follow me and declare his love for me. Huge bouquet of flowers in my arms, he wisked me away in his snazzy sportscar, to live happily ever after. Uh…no, wait…sorry, that was Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. My bad.

  2. Oh, God. You’re making me realize I am totally trying to live out a Hollywood movie. I need help. Like the serious, psychiatric kind with drugs and explanations about how I feel about my mother. Oy. And I need to break it off with Mr. Repeat. Maybe try to regain some self-respect in the process?

    Damn studio executives! Let’s blame them for my irrationality. That sounds fun.

  3. I could not agree more–I blame “She’s All That” for my idea that the hottest boy in school/life will come whisk me away from nerddom and into a full on hot-girl persona I don’t embody in the least bit.

    Plus, watching rom-com’s by yourself is always depressing. Maybe not right off the bat, but at some weird moment later that evening or the next day.

  4. Haven’t seen either film, and I have little interest for Hollywood … but I disagree with your opinion, “These flicks I find to be horribly irresponsible, if not downright insulting, because they send this general message to women: With the love of a good woman, a jerk will magically transform into a relationship-minded prince who worships the ground you walk on.

    I think It goes without saying that with real Love any one can transform any issue. Can you show a jerk compassion? Are you willing to fully love and accept yourself? Are you willing to wait for the jerk to make a change? Are you able to endure it when he challenges your personal convictions? If you answer “YES” to the above questions, then your Love is probably transformative, but very few women love unconditionally- actually, very few people love without conditions. And yet there must have been at least one time in each and every one of our lives when we were touched by the selfless act of someone just giving his or her presence to us and we were able to let go, heal, or transform in some way.

    Women who love unconditionally are the goddesses that drive the bad boys crazy. There is a huge distinction between the love that comes from a woman in touch with her Divinity and a woman who “loves too-much” to fill a void, or to feel validated – listen, if you’re insecure don’t go pursuing the alpha male cos he’s probably not going to call you after he bangs you.

    But a genuine goddess can, over time, (I’d say, miraculously) transform the most macho of men through love and friendship – but, only if she is evolved enough to have to some degree transcended the notion of patriarchy herself : that she sees herself on equal ground as her male counterparts, and also, never speaks or thinks ill of other women. So, it takes a lot of courage to learn painful lessons and grow, and to take rejection as an opportunity to improve your ability to Love. If you can hang out with your bad boy when he starts testing you with his “crazy-making” – then you are able to detach from the drama with love and compassion. When a woman responds to his crazy-making with cool, detached friendliness – you better believe you’ve got him wrapped around your finger! Believe me, in a few months he’ll tease you for stealing his mojo!

    If you don’t know this about men and relationships, then you’re probably just as “high-maintenance” and would do better to take a good look in the mirror than point the finger.

    • a. Most women are not “goddesses” (including the women in these films), yet mere mortals. That is OKAY.
      b. Differences in opinion are perfectly fine and welcome, and I could have respected (although not agreed with) your opinion until I read your last sentence, which essentially said if I don’t share your views then there must be something wrong with me. I’m afraid I can’t give credence to someone who makes such an uninformed pre-judgement about any one person.

  5. okaaaaaaaaaaaay.

    1. glad i didn’t see either of those movies, i sorta knew they’d be lame. although i considered love and other drugs, but sounds like i’d wanna kill myself

    2. actually, interestingly enough, i’ve had a few guys in that scenario want to be the committed ones. and my friends have been having them pop up everywhere too. it must be the whole end of the world crap…. they are getting needy!

    • Blunt, I’m sure you’ve just enchanted them with your overall awesomeness and incredible sexual prowess. Who wouldn’t want that to keep forever and ever??

  6. Um. Yes yes aaaaaaaaaaaannnd yes.

    WTF Hollywood. I’d also add the portrayal of women in these flicks is abhorrent, but we often miss it because oooo! look! pretty boy and sexual chemistry! shinny things get waved in our faces and we get allll wrapped up in the bullshit “romance” of it all. But go back and check out the chicks in these movies: they’re either pining away for a man/the only one of their friends without one (*siiiiiiigggggghhhhhhhhhh*) OR they are driven “career women” who say they don’t care they don’t have a man but – they’re really oh so lonely and sad. And stressed. And probably bitchy. And, more often than not, the only way they “get happy” is finding a man – and maybe leave their job to boot.

    In addition, check out their friends! There are rarely well-portrayed female friendships (even SATC is lacking, in my eyes: the only kick-ass friend is Samantha, but she’s a big fat slut who deserves some breast cancer – oooo irony!). Usually the friends are whiney, kinda bitchy, already hitched (so then they can be happy) or lamenting their singleton to the world because the “career woman” lead can’t. Or maybe not – but then they’re probably slutty and shallow. At the very least, their basically comic relief at best.

    Makes my panties allll kinds of twisted. If you couldn’t already tell. OK. I think I can come down off my soap box now.

    • You go, sista! Love it! I am absolutely certain that if Hollywood were run by women we’d see much different types of films out there. I really don’t like romantic comedies. I think they’re incredibly silly and not funny. I guess the “comedy” is that they are so unrealistic they are laughable.

  7. THANK YOU!!! I know so many men who really do think that their ‘perfect’ woman will be the one to cure their comittment issues. Whaaaat?! And women (including myself) who have stayed tied up in a no-potential relationship thinking and hoping he might turn around. Its a completely pervasive, false (a great majority of the time) and f-ed up message. I wish that more (real) women could realize that the right guy is AVAILABLE, leaving those peter pan syndrome types to watch their black books shrink and head to a therapist!

  8. I love your alternate endings.
    I hate the fact that my 16 year old sister watches this movie and then perhaps goes off and thinks she needs to be this character in order to win the affection of some guy by having NSA sex with him.
    I’m skeptical and I honestly couldn’t see this happening EVER.
    I love the comment “Sometimes its chasing after a girl who wont give it up and sometimes its chasing after the girl who just doesn’t give a damn about you”.

    • Yes, they do leave you with a sense of “this is what it *should* be like,” then when it’s not, you think there’s something wrong with you. Bad, bad, bad.

    • I think many girls have been that girl, though most don’t like to admit it. It’s really not a nice thing to admit, is it? I’ve been that girl, too.

  9. Movies are designed to be fantasies and escapes from reality (therefore the opposite of reality, often).

    They aren’t designed to be parents. But people have decided they don’t want to guide children through reality in most cases these days, so they leave a huge void that movies and TV fill.

  10. I hate hate hate hate HATE to prove you wrong…and I may end up proving myself wrong, but my current boyfriend was my fuck buddy for awhile. Then he thought we should “Date” and then he thought we should be exclusive and then he thought we should be “boyfriend/girlfriend.” Which sounds really really really LAME I know. But I resisted the seriousness the whole way. I was getting over a serious breakup and was trying to blow off some steam and get over the ex and didn’t want anything. I honestly think its all about the THRILL OF THE CHASE. Sometimes its chasing after a girl who wont give it up and sometimes its chasing after the girl who just doesn’t give a damn about you. Its not cool or fair but it does seem to work. Stupid boys. And cheers, T.

    • I knew there would be someone with an example to the contrary. I’m sure it has happened (obviously it did with you), but I’d say it’s definitely not the norm. Men certainly do seem to like the chase. Glad it all worked out for you!

  11. Don’t forget the message they’re selling men with these movies: basically that you’re a heartless, soulless bastard who thinks he’s happy, but of course really isn’t on the inside (see “soulless”, above), until you meet the right woman and she reforms you! lol

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