Smear Campaign

Turning Shit into Gold since 2006

Runaway Pride

Three days ago I signed paperwork that disolved a ten year union. Do not cry for me, internet. The first three years were bliss but half a decade into our partnership and things began to unravel. The wave of comfort and security was like a drug and instead of severing our ties at that crossroads moment we instead continued to live like parasites, devouring one another’s souls in the process. The final years were an embattled tug of war that stifled creativity with a firmly padded grip. Endless repetiton of familiar tasks turned the brain to mush and made the heart black with resentment.

As you have probably pieced together by now, I was laid off from my job of ten years less than one week ago. You are probably also wondering why I am not soaking my sorrows in a bottle of Svedka and downing a baker’s dozen of day old Krispy Kreme. I’ll tell you why. Sometimes a stressful moment can drive a person to participate in activities that cannot be explained. Two hours unemployed and I was a quarter of an hour into the 1999 romantic comedy, Runaway Bride. Honestly, I found this movie more offensive than the manner in which I was let go from my job. Hidden in the on-demand feature of my over-priced cable entertainment package was a slew of 90s dram-coms, rom-coms, com-coms, and Schindler’s List. My fingers scrolled and clicked with a complete lack of consciousness. Before I could make a viewing decision the opening credits were rolling and I was locked into 117 minutes of female degradation and Richard Gere walking about in a bucket hat .

Here is what I was able to ascertain about this paramount piece of crap; Richard Gere is a big city reporter who writes a disparaging column about women for USA Today. With the clock ticking, and his ex-wife/editor gunning for a story, Richard takes a stab in the dark and writes a completely bogus story about a woman in a small town who is about to embark on her fourth attempt at marriage. After three failed walks down the aisle she is set to wed the high school football coach who also happens to be an avid climber, making it to the summit of Mount Everest twice. The article is humiliating and based entirely on Richard’s assumption that this ‘man eater’ will once again flee the altar. When the article is released the entire nation is captivated by the ridiculous tale of one women’s perpetual bout of cold feet. Julia thinks her friends printed this as a wedding prank but she is sorely let down when she realizes that a strange man in New York City has decided to publicly shame her for utterly no reason. In a valiant attempt to regain her pride, Julia writes a scathing op-ed piece in her defense and gets Gere fired, leaving him unemployed and discredited as a journalist. As soon as he is fired by his ex-wife/editor, Richard packs his bags and heads to Hale, Maryland, in the hopes of humiliating Julia further by proving that his thesis is correct and she will in fact ditch her future husband moments before vows are exchanged. He will follow her around until she calls off the wedding.

Richard rolls into town in an over-sized button up shirt and a forced tough guy accent. He starts his smear campaign by stirring up stories from friends, relatives, and ex-fieances. He coaxes granny into blabbing about her past liaisons, while her father freely reveals that his daughter is the undeisputed laughing stock of the town. She is a living, breathing, long running joke to all who know her situation. Despite all of this she somehow gets every man she comes in contact with to fall madly in love with her. It is at this point in the movie when her best friend, played by the hair clip riddled Joan Cusack, gives her the most uninspiring pep talk of all time. She tells Julia that her constant flirting and availability hurts everyone around her. She tells her, “it is time to get your own man.” Julia profusely apologizes for being a single woman with her own business and the need for freedom. She then pulls a hideous duck face for laughs and begins to come to terms with her non-conformist lifestyle.

To release stress during this dark period, Julia takes uncordinated swings at a punching bag and goes on long, limp-wristed jogs while the Dixie Chicks sing her anthem, “Ready to Run”. When it becomes apparent that Richard Gere will not be stopped in his quest to personally tarnish Julia’s character she gives in and allows him all access pass to her life leading up to the wedding. Over the next few weeks they spent a copious amount of time together, growing closer as the wedding nears. She shows him the wicker basket of engagement rings from all of the failed marriage proposals that she keeps in her work shop. In an attempt to woo her affection, Richard raises his voice at an elderly shop keeper when she refuses to sell Julia a $1,000 wedding dress. Apparently this was his way of atoning for the callous viewing of a VHS tape filled with scenes of her failed wedding days that he conned off of her alcoholic father. With the wedding clock ticking, Richard takes her behind the barn and lectures her about why she will not marry her current fiancé. Her confidence is rocked and her bachelorette luau comes to an abrupt end with the incessant prying into her personal life and the endless criticism of her decision making skills from a disgruntled former journalist with a wicked agenda.

Somehow in the midst of all of this turmoil, Julia and her fiancé make time for a wedding rehearsal. In a gross twist, she ends up kissing Richard instead of Coach Football Mountaineer during the nuptial practice. Richard and Julia decided to get married the next day. (At this point I was scratching my head so hard that I needed a band aid to stop the bleeding.) The wedding day arrives and hoards of camera crews clamor to Hale. News trucks and paprazzi swarm the small chapel as Julia prepares to walk down the aisle for the fifth time. Richard gives her one last, ‘I know better than you’ look and the music queues. All eyes are on Julia as she heads towards Richard. At the last second she turns and runs out of the church. Friends and family clutch to her gown in a frantic attempt to force her to stay and wed the city slicker. Finally she escapes and hops into a Fed Ex truck and speeds away. This, in my opinion, is where this movie should have ended. Julia makes her escape and never returns to this overbearing, old fashioned town, taking her skill as a industrial hardware parts welder to another small town thousands of miles away. Instead she waits a few weeks before breaking into Richard’s NYC apartment to ask for his hand in marriage. The end.

The end. That’s the end of this vapid tale of one woman’s life under the microscope of a misogynist stranger and bigoted townsfolk. Two hours later I was somehow watching Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason. Within thirty minutes the perfectly normal looking Renee Zellweger was called a fat pig and a cow by men with bulbous mid sections and balding heads. Enough is enough, people. We need to stop accepting these sad, poorly tailored depictions of women on screen, even if they are wrapped in the guise of a Gary Marshall production.

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