Sunday, January 15, 2006

What a Girl Wants

Is not necessarily the same as what a girl needs.

So yeah, I'm back from the Evil Empire / United States... Sorry, I just could not refuse taking a dig at Ronald Reagan. I was reading the Washington Post on the way back from America, and they had a sidebar mentioning how all two-term presidents in recent history (starting with my personal hero, FDR), had record-low approval ratings coming into their fifth year in office, and what they did about it. In talking about Reagan and how he was able to shrug off the Iran-contra Scandal by the end of his fifth year, the Post managed to give him credit for ending the Cold War.

Huh? So Reagan's fundamentalist rantings about how communism was the root of all Evil and how the Soviet Union was the Evil Empire, his desire to build a space-based missile defence system at a cost of hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars, while not cutting back on nuclear arms productions... Reagan ended the Cold War? It had nothing to do with Gorbachev basically telling Reagan that the Soviets were going to dismantle their nuclear arsenal, and whether the US chose to do so was up to us?

OK, now that I have gotten my usual liberal ranting done, here is a rant on a topic that is decidedly abnormal for this blog. I used to, back in school, have all of these thoughts about various topics that I would write down in a notebook I kept. Then, I realised that most of my thoughts weren't as good unless I talked them over with people. Luckily, a few years later, I have found a wife who is (at least) my intellectual equal, and who even puts up with my long-winded way of thinking out loud.

But I just realised that now I have a blog, and what are blogs for if not thinking out loud? So, thanks to the Internet, you can tune into my thought processes any time you dare! Not that this will mean that my poor, long-suffering wife will be spared my rants, of course. :)

So finally, to today's topic: what a girl wants.

I have seen a lot of movies in my time, and read a lot of books. Most fiction is escapism, and escapism tends toward the romantic. Most people who know me also know that I am a bit of a romantic. I am a bit sappy, and yes, I have been known to mist up a little bit whilst watching, say, "Anne of Green Gables" (gee, Mom, wonder where I got that trait?). So I am not the sort of guy to shy away from romantic comedies. In fact, the romantic comedy (and no, Matthew, "Scarface" does not qualify, I don't care what you say!) genre is probably one of my favourites. Granted, I like them a little wittier than "Bring it on Again" (which I refuse to link because I don't want you actually buying that shite), but I do like them.

Romantic comedies, more often than not, are concerned with the question of what a girl wants; in fact, some of them even put that right out there in the title (I will link this one, but be warned: it is not the best movie in which Colin Firth has ever appeared)!

And unfortunately for the women of the world, most of them get it dreadfully wrong, or at least communicate the wrong idea to the Sensitive Male of the 90s. Or 00s, I guess, though the Sensitive Male seems to have gone a little out of style after his mid-90s heyday.

You see, romantic comedies teach us men to be everything the woman wants. Be supportive, be "emotionally available" (whatever that means), be romantic, be spontaneous, be funny, and above all, be good looking. While I personally don't have a problem with any of these requirements (heh heh), they can create big problems for a relationship.

Here is what I mean: women may want guys who are all of these things, but women really need a guy who is willing to be himself (though they may not realise this). I know from personal experience that trying to be Super Guy, the best boyfriend in the world, makes you a shitty boyfriend. Why? Because she may be happy, but she is not getting to know you. You know, the real you? The guy who sometimes gets irritable in the morning before his second cup of coffee, the guy who stays up too late working on his computer, the guy who actually cannot stand her annoying friend, the guy who has no real fashion sense besides what he sees in programming magazines. (None of these examples have anything to do with me, by the way; I'm just putting them out there.)

And sooner or later, you get tired of being the Super Boyfriend, tired of pretending, tired of putting her first. And then you dump her. Or maybe she sees through your charade and dumps you. Or maybe she wants Super Boyfriend, and when she sees that is not really who you are, she dumps you.

In any case, it ends with tears, hard feelings, etc.

This is the part that the romantic comedies do not show you. And I don't blame them: that sort of thing makes for a pretty depressing movie. (Before you ask, yes, I do know about "Hi Fidelity", which actually does show this happening. Great movie. Watch it!)

But, drawing on my vast reservoir of personal experience, I can tell you that when you are yourself, and it doesn't work out, it tends to not work out faster. You know, before the L-bomb has been dropped and everyone is really invested. And hell, sometimes it does work out, as evidenced by my matrimonial state.

There is a good lesson that can be gleaned from some romantic comedies, though: fate. Stop trying so hard to find a girl, fellows. In my experience, when you are relaxed and confident, she might just find you. Or you might find yourselves picking up trash together in rural Japan. Whatever. Just go with the flow, man. ;)

Wow, was that me writing all of the above? I promise that the next entry will be more like what you have come to expect from me: bad language, far-left liberal-fringe lunatic opinions, off-colour jokes, and commentary on life in Japan.

But Valentine's Day came early. What can I say?


Chris said...

I'm calling Jon Perle to come and lay the smackdown on your liberal ass.

Matthew said...

Hey. When did you get more liberal than me? (I take it that you are one of the legions of fiscal conservatives that are pissed with the neo-cons....)

PS - Scarface IS a romantic comedy. It has romance and that 'Push it to the Limit' montage is hilarious. Romance plus comedy equals romantic comedy, right?

Josh Glover said...

@Kohler: Jonathan Perle would need a functional, space-based SDI before stepping to this!

@Matthew: Yes, I am a New Deal Democrat, which is not a fun thing to be in today's America. Social liberal, fiscal conservative. More or less.

For more on my political views, check out Politics Schmolitics.

Matthew said...

I guess you like the political enviornment in Japan where the conservatives (LDP, 1/3 of Minshuto) are really New Deal Democrats in disguise....

BTW, has just been getting better and better. You are working for a helluva classy operation.

Josh Glover said...

I am a big fan of Koizumi, but less enthused about his probable successors, Abe and that other crazy nationalistic guy.

Thanks for the compliments on I am really enjoying working here. If you have suggestions for improvements, feel free to hit me up--I can at least make sure they get to the right people.

Matthew said...

Koizumi is 50/50 in my books. He seems to get everything half wrong. For example, he makes an apology to China for wartime misdeeds - pisses off the Japanese right. Makes a Yasukuni visit - pisses off the Japanese left and makes the Chinese side think that the earlier apology is BS. Everyone gets a bad taste in their mouth. Abe may have a bit more sense but he lacks the Koizumi charm.

As for, I am a frequent user (always outside of Japan). One thing that I have seen lately that I really like is the use of two columns of 10 items each on some of the more popular pages (ie. manga/anime kenkyu). Great for larger computer screens. The best thing is, the amount of stuff that enters your vision at one time is about the same as when you are browsing in a bookstore. This is, in my opinion, the best feeling that an online store like can hope to give its visitors. I think that it would be great if this were implemented site-wide (and perhaps with slightly larger images of the covers).Anyway, I have not been using the site in a while (while I am in Japan, I enjoy going to bookstores) so I'll let you know if I notice anything else when I am overseas.

Josh Glover said...

Part of the Koizumi charm, however, is that he largely does what he wants, regardless of what his party or the Japanese public say they want.

This allowed him to punch the postal reforms through, despite the fact that many LDP members didn't want them to happen.

As for the Yasukuni visits, I read in Time Asia that his advisors and the LDP mainline have told him repeatedly not to go. But he persists, and won't really explain his reasons beyond the political doublespeak "I go to pledge to the fallen that I will never let another war occur". No-one knows why Koizumi goes to the shrine except maybe Koizumi.

I actually respect him for that.

Having said that, there is a very real danger that he could seriously damage Japan's credibility with China and Korea. As those two countries continue to grow economically, there could be some real consequences for Japan. For example, Japan wants to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council (which they certainly deserve, by virtue of the fact that they fund 20% of the UN's annual budget), but China has a veto. Guess how they might use it?

matthew said...

I think that it is pretty clear at this point that Koizumi goes to Yasukuni because he thinks that his view of the shirne is correct and that of the Chinese is wrong (that of the Chinese IS wrong -- the People's Daily has reported that it funded by the Japanese government which is not the case). I guess you can give him some cred for that but in a purely pragmatic sense, it is probably better to let an issue like this slide and re-open a dialogue with Japan's neighbours on the big issues. Japan has the luxury of having fewer foreign policy beefs that many countries and probably should not be throwing gas on the fires that do exist.

Japan's smart plan for getting on the UN security council was to throw in with Germany, India, and Brazil and try to all get on at the same time. This was shot down for a number of reasons (African ambitions for seats being a big one) but I can't see China using the veto and pissing off Japan, Germany, India, Brazil, and the USofA which is backing the Japan bid (as it should, Japan is right there with the UK on the list of top US allies). China does not get a 'line item veto'.

As for messing things up with China and Korea, I think that the potential economic fallout is exaggerated. There was a massive anti-Japanese boycott movement in China this year and no real negative impact on the Japanese economy (growing as well as it has in a decade by some accounts). Another question is, what is China going to do without Japanese (and American) investment? China's GDP may be growing but its GDP per cap is still 1/30 of Japan's. Japan also tends to do very well in the GNP area because of its strong multi-nationals (China does not). Hard to see where this is all going but the general rule is -- if everyone gets along, everyone makes money. That is why I am hoping that whatever the next Japanese PM thinks about Yasukuni, they think about Asia a bit as well (or finally get around to building that gov. funded war memorial).

BTW, I agree with you 100% on the romantic comedy thing. The 'male version' of some of those romantic comedies that you mentioned would be one of those college movies that look like one big wet t-shirt contest. Men can't expect women to conform to misogynistic fantasies like this so the reverse should work as well. Relationships are about compromise, romantic comedies are often about submission (not the good ones, however). Also, have you ever considered how many of the romantic comedy stars get divorced in real life?