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Media Habits at HBS – Six Words Every Woman Needs to Hear

If you’ve been dating for five years, you live together, and you’re still not engaged, he’s just not that into you.

He’s Just Not That Into You, based on the popular self-help book by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, is now a movie that explores the complicated world of dating and the hints women fail to understand.

– If he always says, “We should hang out,” but he doesn’t actually ask you on a date.
– If he says, “I’ll see you around” instead of “I’ll call you tomorrow”.
– If he’s dating or sleeping with someone else.
– If you’ve been dating for five years, you live together, and you’re still not engaged.
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Based on the advice doled out in the best-selling book by the same name, He’s Just Not That Into You is the story of four different women in their quest for love and commitment. Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Gigi, a young women desperately trying to unravel the mysteries of dating. Justin Long plays a bar owner who Gigi repeatedly seeks out for blunt dating advice. Jennifer Connelly plays Gigi’s coworker, Janine, who is married to Ben (Bradley Cooper). Ben meets Anna (Scarlett Johansson), a beautiful yoga instructor aspiring to be a singer. Anna is torn between having an adventurous affair with married Ben or enjoying the comfortable affection of her friend Conor (Kevin Connolly). Gigi’s other coworker Beth (Jennifer Aniston) tag heuer replica for sale , has been in a happy, long-term relationship with Neil for several years (Ben Affleck), but is getting increasingly discontent with his reluctance to get married. Drew Barrymore has a fairly minor role as another single co-worker of Gigi’s and Kris Kristofferson makes a cameo as Beth’s compassionate father.

This movie’s value lies not in the complexity of its plot nor its moving performances. He’s Just Not that Into You’s success is in its ability to make the audience empathize with the characters as they navigate the complicated, confusing world of dating. Throughout the film, I found myself repeatedly cringing at the women’s blunders, recognizing my own past failures to understand those six simple words. Though painful to watch at times, the movie entertains and enlightens.

Although the primary focus of the plot is on dating and marriage, the film also explores the nature of friendship among women. The movie portrays other women as responsible for naively perpetuating the myths of “He’s just intimidated by you,” “He’s just really busy,” and “He’ll leave his wife for you.” When the women are lamenting the ambiguity of the state of their romantic relationships, their girl friends rush to provide a story of how their cousin’s cousin was in the exact same situation-and now she and the guy are blissfully married, thus giving the desperate woman more fuel to run the engine of her denial. At the same time, women are portrayed as extremely supportive of and loving toward one another. To the film’s credit, women are rarely portrayed as directly competing with one another for a man’s attention. Even in the case of the woman whose husband is cheating on her, there is no “showdown” between the two women. Thus, the focus of the film is rightly put not on men’s actions or other women’s actions but on our control over own actions and how we react to different situations.

The film is disappointing in its one-dimensional and caricatured portrayals of gay men and women of color–and its complete absence of lesbians. While the message of the movie is one that people of all backgrounds and sexual orientations can relate to, the film distracts from its universal appeal with unimaginative and uninspiring “cameos” by gay men and people of color. Near the beginning of the movie, a young “African” woman is crouched on the ground with her girl friends, wondering if “he just forgot my hut number.” Later in the movie, two gay men explain that “gay dating signals” are different than straight ones, and then demonstrate how holding eye contact for longer than three seconds is an invitation to sex. These are just two of the several moments when the movie relies on stereotypes to get cheap laughs.

Arguably, straight women are not portrayed much in a much better light. Women are portrayed as desperately seeking marriage breitling superocean replica, constantly emphasizing a man’s love and approval over their own self-esteem and dignity, and prioritizing catching a man over being successful in their careers and fulfilled as individuals. However, the truth of the matter is that romantic relationships are important to women of all backgrounds, education levels, and income levels. The movie drives this point home, and also highlights the fact that while marriage may seem like the ultimate goal, the work of maintaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship does not end with the wedding.

I recommend both the book and movie He’s Just Not That Into You for anyone who has ever wondered why their guy stopped calling, why his Facebook status still says “Single”, or why women don’t just seem to get the hints they’re being given. The film is thought-provoking, funny, and tells many of us the awful truth our girl friends are too kind or clueless to say.

***3 out of 5 stars

February 23, 2009
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