Handsome is as Handsome Does

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Getting all the chicks in the movies

How many times do you see the hero in a romantic comedy (or dramedy) who plays an incurable loverboy and somehow has hot chicks falling all him them everywhere he goes?

Watch Jake Gyllenhaal when he finally gets the hot coworker into bed in Love and Other Drugs (with the promise of a threesome with a hot Asian girl, no less), or Ryan Reynolds when the gorgeous barista writes her number on his coffee in The Proposal.

Movies would have us think there are men like that around who make beautiful women all around them weak at the knees, and maybe there are. But if there's one thing real life shows us about women – and at the risk of sounding politically incorrect – the vast majority of them prefer not to make the approach.

Whether it's the pursuit and capture dynamic of relationships that's informed our behaviour since the days when guys hit women over the head with clubs as a dating strategy or the fact that girls are just a touch less confident and forthright when it comes to mating practices, ladies tend to work very hard at looking beautiful and then waiting for suitors to come to them.

So what gives with these handsome heroes who only have to flash their devilish smirk to have bevies of gorgeous women throwing phone numbers and rolled up panties at them? I think they're a wish fulfillment fantasy on the part of screenwriters who are as fat, gangly, unattractive or unsure of themselves as the rest of us. But there's a point to it, of course.

When the cocky hero who can conquer any chick he wants with a flash of his crooked smile comes up against the woman who'll win his heart and reform him, she's blind to his advances (as well as smarter than him, putting down the corny lines that always work on other – presumably stupid – women) and her rejection of him only makes him want her all the more. What it actually does is perpetuate the oppposite myth to the girls-flock-to-some-guys notion.

Her role in this archetype is to be The One, and the quickest way to set her apart from her competition in the mating market and give the story the romantic tension it needs is to cast every other hot girl as a one dimensional nymph only too willing to throw herself at the hero.

It positions the heroine as the standoffish one with the brains and him as the pursuer who has to use all the tricks in his arsenal of good looks and charm to bring her around, a myth that sells both sexes short.

As always, the movies sets up this effortless pulling power to look spontaneous and believable, working its magic on our perceptions and beliefs all the while, often at the expense of our own experience in the world.

Or maybe I'm just bitter because it's never happened to me...

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