This past weekend I went to the NCAA basketball tournaments at my alma mater. The men’s night was, of course, much more crowded than the women’s. During the men’s game, I heard the following exchange from some way behind me:
Guy: So you wanna go?
Girl: Oh man, I am so wasted!
Guy: (laughter) Dude, duuude!
It made me a little bit uncomfortable to hear, though I’m sure it was perfectly innocent. At least I hope it was. A while later it got me to thinking about what happens when something like that happens in a movie. Naturally, the person who hears it insinuates himself (always himself) and takes the girl (always a girl) to safety away from the awful predators who would take advantage of her. She sleeps off her hangover (or whatever it is), and is forever grateful to her savior. Maybe they even fall in love themselves, and maybe they even sex later!
What would happen in real life? Any person who tried this would — best-case scenario — get horribly embarrassed. Then they may get some combination of the shit beaten out of them and/or arrested. If they somehow fulfilled the movie scenario up to extracting the incapacitated person (woman), that would probably end up with criminal charges because WHAT THE FUCK THIS IS NOT MY HOUSE!!!!
And yet, don’t we buy it when it happens in a movie? Why is that?
I’m sure there’s other examples, too. Is it as simple as suspension of disbelief? I like to think when I sit down to watch a movie, I hold the events unfolding before me to some standard of plausibility. That doesn’t mean I can’t watch sci-fi or fantasy; being plausible within the rules a work sets for its own world is okay, too. Seems like there’s lots of scenarios, and not just in the romance genre, that don’t play by that set of rules.
I’m interested in exploring whether this is something to subvert in a work of my own. I do love being subversive in my writing, but there does come a point when there’s too much of a good thing. Something to think about.