By Joanna Robinson and The Ladies of Pajiba | Miscellaneous | February 11, 2011 |
By Joanna Robinson and The Ladies of Pajiba | Miscellaneous | February 11, 2011 |
(Bleeding Heart Liberal Disclaimer: This piece is about to get real gender stereotyped and real heteronormative real fast, so I want to acknowledge, right off the bat, that sometimes dudes woo dudes, ladies woo ladies, and ladies woo dudes. And that, sometimes, lady wooers are the best of all possible wooers.)
Oi, dudes, come here, sit down, we wanna help you out. We ladies know that sometimes you gents get a little apprehensive when it comes to Valentine’s Day. There’s so much pressure to prove, on this one day, by hook or by Whitman’s Sampler, that your aim is true. I was thinking that, by rounding up a list of romantic gents from film, you might, by studying them over the weekend, get some good ideas about how to properly execute The Romantic Gesture. So I asked for help from the smartest, coolest, most film savvy women I knew…The Lady Pajibans. The resulting list, however, helped me realize something. Sure, we adore the Romantic Gesture (George Bailey lassos the moon! It’s a Wonderful Thing!), but it’s meaningless without the daily affirmations of love. That’s what the Lady Pajibans seem to respond to, a guy who treats his lady like she’s his Valentine every day. It’s not too late, boys.
“But who’s on this list?” you ask. “Is it just populated by those d-bags who make me look bad? I hate those guys.” Whoa, “d-bag” is a little harsh, but I catch your meaning. You’re thinking about that time when you were watching The Princess Bride with your ladyfriend and just after the line “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while,” you heard her let out a faint little sigh. And then, then you mentally hollered, “Westley, you insufferable d-bag, stop making me look bad.” It’s okay, it was the heat of the moment, we know you didn’t mean to call Westley that. The “Mr. Darcy is a Sh*thead” shirt was going a bit far, though, don’t you think?
Yes there are some of those guys on this list but, listen, it’s ladies’ choice and the ladies of Pajiba, are a mötley crew. They like soft-hearted gallants who will attend to a woman’s every need (Moulin Rouge’s bleeding-heart poet, Christian, and that poor sap there with the cue cards, Christmas music and a baffling soft spot for Keira Knightley). But they also groove on bold, brash, men who recognize strength in their female partner and respond well to it (Shakespeare’s Benedick and A Room With A View’s George Emerson). In other words, pick the Pajiban lady your Valentine most resembles (in the headspace, not the rackspace) and you’ll know which dude to study. So, here’s your curriculum, enjoy.
Patrick Verona—“10 Things I Hate About You”
There are a lot of stories out there about odd, lonely girls who break out of their shell, shed their ugly duckling phase and emerge as beautiful swans. And somehow, once they achieve this level of aquatic avian beauty, the world is able to see the inner beauty that was there all along! It’s heart warming. It’s also a crock of shit. Here’s Patrick Verona; the boy who fell in love with Kat Stratford absent any kind of makeover or personality transformation. He’s not scared of the fact that she uses large words or calls herself a feminist, he takes care of her when she’s drunk and injured, and he buys her a guitar instead of flowers to apologize. He’s also not some movie-dwelling dream of a rich jock with all the girls fawning over him who has the heart of a poet/artist/something else “sensitive” here beating inside him that makes him look past the superficial ways of his peers to find the girl who was there all along and figure out that she’d be really hot with some highlights and a miracle bra. The relationship is less a fairytale romance than it is two people who don’t really like other people all that much slowly learning to like each other, flaws and all. Given the choice between Patrick Verona and Jake Ryan, I’d pick Patrick any day.—Intern Rusty
Colonel Brandon —“Sense & Sensibility”
It’s the way he looks at her when he first meets her. How he just stands there, frozen, while she plays the piano, and you can see his heart just melting at the sight of her. It’s how he selflessly steps aside when he realizes she’s in love with someone else. It’s how he almost goes insane when she gets sick, and how much he cares about her, and how he’s the perfect gentleman. It’s the voice. It’s the fact that it’s Alan Rickman. —figgy
Jareth the Goblin King —“Labyrinth”
My freshman year of undergrad my roommate and I had a monthly ritual. We would order a medium pizza with black olives and cheesesticks with ranch sauce and sit down and re-watch Labyrinth. And at the end we would almost always end up yelling at the screen because that idiot Sarah chose her baby half-brother (not even a whole brother!) over David Bowie in tight pants. Really, that’s all I need out of a romantic movie hero: that he be played by David Bowie in tight pants. The magic kingdom and ability to stop time and juggle glass balls (what else can you do with those nimble fingers, Jareth?) are just icing on the cake. He promises to be her slave and give her anything she wants if she just agrees to stay with him and love him. I would totally let Jareth have my little brother for that life (sorry James).—Dr. Pisaster
Mark Darcy—“Bridget Jones’s Diary”
Another modernized literary hero, Mark Darcy will love you, just as you are. He’ll give you that brain melty, crinkly eye, Colin Firth-esque stare. He’ll also help you cook, save your career, wear embarrassing sweaters his mum got him, get in a fistfight for your honor and deliver a snog so thorough it’s sure to knock your genuinely tiny knickers off. What, nice boys don’t kiss like that? Yes they f*cking do.—nominated by Even Stevens and Courtney Enlow
E. Edward Grey—“Secretary”
A man of his word. A man who accepts a girl for who she is. A man of surprises. A man who takes charge in the bedroom. A man who shows remorse and can admit when he does something wrong. A man who likes to play fun games, who is both firm and gentle. A man who takes care of his woman. A man who, when he finds the right girl, settles down but doesn’t play dead. In Secretary, James Spader’s E. Edward Grey is all these things, wears a suit AND he looks like James Spader. What more could a girl want?—Cindy
Peter Warne—“It Happened One Night”
Gruff, sarcastic, unambitious, and an unemployed alcoholic to boot, this guy is the total package. It’s Clark Gable at his not-giving-a-damnedest, playing Peter as the fast talking, smart-aleck reporter indifferent to celebrity status who won’t hesitate to call Ellie out for being a brat, but will also offer to pick hay out of her teeth with his penknife. In the beginning he’s all snappy dialogue and witty insults punctuated by brief glimpses of tenderness (like loaning Ellie his favorite pajamas or hanging a blanket for privacy between their beds each night), but that gives way to earnest affection as the two get closer to know each other. The real draw of the film, however, is Clark Gable’s pecs. This was one of the first movies to feature a man fully undressed from the waist up. No matter that his pants were nearly up to his armpits, you get to feast your eyes on a few square inches of Man Chest.—nosio
Lloyd Dobler—“Say Anything”
And here he is, last but not least, the king of the Romantic Gesture, Lloyd Dobler. This young man is both a romantic fool and well-aware of the strength and power of Ms. Diane Court. In fact, I was going to call this whole notion of an idealized cinematic lead “The Lloyd Dobler Effect,” but some bastards already named their band that. Bastards. In all honesty, for me, it’s not about Peter Gabriel on the boombox or the post-coital shakes. It’s saying things like this: “What I really want to do with my life - what I want to do for a living - is I want to be with your daughter. I’m good at it.” So, come on, fellas, dare to be great. Dare to be Lloyd Dobler. —Joanna
In summation, bros, if you’re brown-nosing overachievers, you should spend the weekend baring your chest, doning your tightest pants, hoisting a boombox, learning to ride horseback, hiring a marching band, renting a saddle (unrelated to that horseback thing), and loving your f*cking lady friend…just as she is.
Joanna Robinson thanks all the Pajiban chicks who sent her nominations. She regrets she has but one column to give. If your nom didn’t make the cut, you can holler out his name in the comments section, or just mutter mutinously at your monitor. To the gents who don’t have a Valentine this year, you can always call me, but you best bring your Dobler game. My number is 555-867-5309.