Part 43: Romantic Comedy (or, Jennifer Aniston)

After receiving this blog’s title (‘Romantic Comedy’, a suggestion tweeted by @elizacummings*) I was going to hijack this virtual space and use it as a platform to have an 800 word feminist rant re: the devastating damage improbable portrayals of love via the rom-com genre inflict upon women. I intended to utilise my wit and humour to frame an analysis of all the ways that sickly cinematic representations of ‘girl-meets-guy, it goes wrong, it gets sorted’ have negatively impacted on me as a woman (and, by default, all other people with lady bits) by making me feel unpretty, undersexed, unlovable and giving me unrealistic expectations of future romances.

Then I realised I didn’t care, and decided to write about Jennifer Aniston instead.

Jen-Jen, aka the caramel-haired singleton who played Rachel in Friends, has become synonymous with the rom-com genre. In fact, it’s kind of all she’s done with her career since Ferris Bueller’s Day Off**, and I’m almost too young to remember that (I’m being unkind here, because I know she did also do that one where she was a depressed supermarket cashier with greasy hair and an unflattering blue uniform).

Her prominence in the Romantic Comedy genre, coupled with the media painting her as VICTIM (the capitals there are intended to emphasise the extent of the tarnishing) in her divorce from the once-hot Brad Pitt, led her to garner ‘America’s Sweetheart’ status.

We mostly think of her, if we think of her at all (usually when we click on the celebrity side-bar of the Daily Mail website) as a girl-next-door type – unlucky in love, kind-hearted, nice, beautiful-in-a-wholesome-way. And rather boring.

I’m going to blame her showbiz chums for this perception, because I once watched a hard-hitting documentary on her life (alright, it *might* have been an E! True Hollywood Story) where they all described her in saccharine terms: ‘everybody loves Jen’, ‘she’s so nice’, ‘she is such a good person’.

Listening to her friends and co-stars speak, you imagined Jen was the kind of fluffy, simpering yawn-maker who forces you to get drunk at parties just so you can do something outrageous to offend them. Or maybe that’s just me. I usually respond with instant dislike to people whom others describe as ‘nice’. It’s an appellation that more or less guarantees the bearer will be tedious company who refuses to slag off stupid people over coffee, and might want to talk about kittens.

The thing is though, in this same ‘documentary’ Jen came across as a bit edgier and more interesting than her rom-com persona, and the testimonies of her co-stars, suggested.

She smokes for a start, and drinks like a fish. Which is good because she mega rich, and is therefore someone I definitely wouldn’t feel bad about stealing fags from on a boozy night out.

There is also other evidence that she might not be as boring and one-dimensional as her movie-roles would suggest. For example, after she split up with Brad, she did the sensible thing and stayed single for ages, shagged loads of different blokes and turned up at various red carpet events looking ten types of amazing.

You’ve got to admit single people, that Jennifer’s life, which includes owning massive houses in California, sleeping with hot actor-types, and perfecting the shiny-shiny hair look, is – from the outside – a lot more fabulous than Angelina Jolie’s (which is, presumably, the kind of life Jen could have had, had she stayed married to her ex-hub), which includes wiping the bums of international children, and making depressing art-house films about the Bosnian War.

I’d say that Jennifer Aniston was in her prime at the height of her singledom. When she’d been alone for ages, had that ‘I just rocked off the beach glow’ and didn’t seem to give a shit, even when the tabloids were flinging nasty handfuls of misogynistic shit about ‘why Jen can’t keep a man’ all over her slinky red maxi-dress.

And even though I’ll never think Marley and Me is a film that should have been made. Even though I will never have silky golden hair, or marry a sexy Hollywood Movie star and discard him right before he’s past-it, I’m a little bit in love with Jen, without being jealous.

Yes, Jennifer Aniston is a reason to be single, because she’s made her millions by selling the vision of true-love to a brain-addled audience in movie after movie, and yet managed to stick her own fingers (or finger, I think the V-sign is a British thing) up at convention and have a good full life without a man.

She has even managed to maintain her good-girl image while juggling casual sex with alcohol, cigarettes and yoga***. Hurrah!

Let’s just hope these rumours of her current, happy romance leading to a second go at marriage turn out to be false. Nobody likes a customary happy ending. Unless it happens to them.

*I’m still taking suggestions people, until Sunday, so if you have an idea for a blog then tweet me @ElfinKate, or use the comments box below.

** Even Friends was, essentially, just a ten-season rom-com with Ross and Rach at its centre.

***She gets extra amazing points for doing that in America; where there are religious nut-jobs posing as viable presidential candidates, and Mormons.

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