What a Girl Wants
Item! Who’d have thought that today, in swingin’, happenin’ 1962, we’d have to report that New York’s most confirmed bachelor, Know magazine writer Catcher Block, has been seen gadding about town with none other than women’s libber Barbara Novak, author of the anti-romance book Down With Love. Who’s kiddin’ who here, kids? Item! Was that Know editor Peter MacMannus tête-
*sigh* Oh, for the days when the cads wore tuxes, had delicious accents, and were as all-around scrumptious as Ewan McGregor. What’s a 21st-century gal to do, faced with cigar-chomping ex-frat boy stockbroker assholes who think they’re sophisticated, and Man Show-watchin’, bikini-inspectin’, Maxim-readin’ doods who’re proud they aren’t? Of course I use the word “reading” loosely.
Not that I’d really want to turn the clock back to an era when the only things women were good for was making the coffee and preserving their virginity. Bor-rrring. But the kind of romantic jape that Down With Love is — the hey-
Ya gotta rewind to before we all got confused about the differences between what a girl wants and what a girl’s supposed to want. So we get sweet and spunky Renée Zellweger (Chicago, White Oleander), who’s allowed — by virtue of the fact that this is a pretend 1962 seen through the knowing eyes of 2003 — to be kinda ditzy and so smart (in the end) that you want to cheer her, to be delicately feminine, in her endless candy-colored wardrobe, and demandingly, bitch-
And Catcher Block hears it loud and clear, and is afraid. Playboy and bon vivant, he doesn’t like this new distinction between “good girls” and “bad girls.” He’s going to trap Barbara, make her fall in love with him — which no proper Down With Love girl would do; she’d just use him for sex — and then expose her in the pages of Know magazine, a sort of forerunner to Maxim, so sure it knows the full extent of what women want, heh. And he plans to do it by acting like a traditional woman, refusing sex to this sexually aggressive woman — a punishment, surely, when he’s so dashing and desirable — but dangling the promise of it in front of her so she’ll hang around long enough to fall head over heels. McGregor (Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, Moulin Rouge) dishes out Catch’s irresistibility with a spoon — of course she must fall for him. Right?
Stretching stereotypes to absurd extremes could only work when lots of men and women conformed to the types, and reversing them is really all about balance, of course, about embracing the masculine and the feminine in us all. Which, as we drift toward extremes again, from Maxim on the one end and “the new abstinence” on the other, is probably something we need to hear.
Oh, and martinis: we all need martinis, too.