Saturday, April 11, 2009

Life without romance

Following my Son Yeh Jin fanboyism, I began watching the first fifteen minutes of her 2003 drama entitled Summer Scent. Hye-won, the main character, has recently received a heart transplant to treat a chronic heart condition. However, when she encounters the boyfriend of her deceased heart donor, her heart begins inexplicably beating inside her chest. This occurs despite her already being romantically involved with another man. Stop!

That's horrible! Falling in love because your transplanted heart has some supernatural power over you? What about the love that you already have?

How in the world is that romantic? Yubin, already incensed by my relative spurning of Boys Over Flowers, had these words for me in response:

Andy, you shouldn't watch romantic things. It doesn't suit you.

Ouch... It's not the first time that my romantic sense has been thrown into question. A few weeks ago, two of my peers were discussing the Notebook on the hospital shuttle bus. I popped in and commented that the movie is not as mind-blowing as most girls make it sound. "That's because you're a boy," was the sardonic response.

I don't know quite how to respond to attacks like these. On the one hand, accepting a reputation as one who scorns romantic plot devices could bode well toward cultivating a testosterone-laden image of maleness. On the other hand, it's maliciously untrue.

You see, I appreciate a sappy romantic tragedy as much as the next bloke, regardless of whether they herald from Korea, Japan, or Hollywood. In fact, I deeply appreciate a strong drama because I secretly enjoy the captivating sensation of intense sadness. At the risk of damaging my masculinity, I will admit that I was deeply moved by Jun Ji-hyun's Il Mare, I was embarrassingly touched by Fuji TV's Zettai Kareshi, and I was unwittingly tickled by the cuteness of P.S. I Love You. Don't even get me started on Final Fantasy X.

The problem is not that I can't applaud a good romance, but a good romance is believable. A good tragedy is natural. Romance developed through tortuous contrivances and implausible mind-bending is not compelling. Neither is romance borne out of unnecessary pain dealt to others. It's difficult to cheer for a character who you hold in contempt. Similarly, tragedy borne out of self-stupidity feels deserved. While misunderstandings can indeed factor into great tragedies (one need only look to Othello and Desdemona), their reactions must seem organic, their situations uncontrollable. There can be no empathy for the masochist.

I know how to savour a good love story. That's why I'm unsympathetic to narratives that are unsubstantial, distasteful, or incredulous.

...and by the way, I also any enjoy anything with space ships, explosions, or sword-fighting. My favourite movie is Top Gun. Phew! Close one...


Alexis said...

"You see, I appreciate a sappy romantic tragedy as much as the next bloke, ..."

Haha, I don't know if that's true. You probably enjoy those more than the next bloke...

a_ndy said...

Shhh... I enjoy anything with space ships, explosions, or sword fighting and my favourite movie is Top Gun...

ted relaxing said...

The space ships, explosions or sword fighting, or even Top Gun are all just diversions... you don't want people to make fun of you watching sappy romantic stragedies haha

Joyce said...

LOL @ your last couple of sentences... Someone's trying way too hard! :P

For the record though, The Notebook was a pretty bad movie with some pretty bad lines... >>;;

yubin said...

i love the notebook!!
and my dad watched it and he liked it too!
he cried watching it.. haha