There's been a recent awakening in the film business. Studio executives seem to have realized–again!–that people of color, specifically black Americans, want to see movies that reflect our cultural and individual experiences with love.
Film bigwigs are investing dollars in movies like the burgeoning Think like a Man franchise, The Best Man Holiday, and the other black romantic comedies slated for release in the coming months.
There are few women as pleased and disgusted with the sudden revival of black romantic comedies as I am. I'm infatuated with romantic comedies. I'm not ashamed to admit that I spend hours watching modern princesses claim their princes and gallivant off into the skyline of Los Angeles or New York. These days, I watch romcoms for work: I'm a media studies scholar working on a thesis about romantic comedies.
A teen girl waits inside a creepy, empty house with a knife. She knows the killer is outside and she knows he's coming to kill her next. Her friends are dead, her clothes have been ripped to shreds, she is covered in blood, and she is all alone in the deserted house. But she is ready. She waits, ready to avenge her friends and save her own life. She is the Final Girl.
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Tropes vs. Women is a six-part video series by Feminist Frequency that explores the reoccurring stories, themes and representations of women in Hollywood films and TV shows.
The Evil Demon Seductress is a supernatural creature usually a demon, alien, robot, vampire etc. who is most often disguised as a sexy human female. She uses her sexuality and sexual wiles to manipulate, seduce, kill and often eat poor, hapless men by luring them into her evil web.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a cute, bubbly, young (usually white) woman who has recently entered the life of our brooding hero to teach him how to loosen up and enjoy life. While that might sound all well and good for the man, this trope leaves women as simply there to support the star on his journey of self discovery with no real life of her own.
Of Katherine Heigl's box office currency in Killers–the disappointing rom-com action flick now bombing in a theater near you–Time magazine's Richard Corliss had this to say:
[Katherine Heigl] has come close to the traditional definition of a star: someone who will get people to pay to see her in bad movies.
The article goes on to deconstruct why the derivative spy rom-com isn't performing up to expectations, which weren't particularly high to begin with. While some exploration of seasonal box office precedent–early June is the largely the time for gross-out comedies–is legitimate, Killers misses the mark for one specific reason: the filmmakers' failure to understand what constitutes successful use of the "So I married a secret agent" trope.