During some channel surfing I recently came across The Break Up from 2006 starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Usually, I would keep flicking but having recently gone through a break up myself and being at home alone watching commercial television, I was in the mood for some emotional indulgence. I first saw the film when I was still a teenager and a lot of the issues went over my head (I was still psyched to have a driver’s licence). However, revisiting it now, the conflict between the couple spoke volumes to me.
One of the strongest scenes in the film takes place after the couple have just hosted a dinner party in their flat. Gary (Vince) starts playing video games whilst Brooke (Jennifer) wants them to get the dishes done. Gary resists but once Brooke decides to do them herself, Gary joins in begrudgingly. What follows is one of the film’s most memorable patches of dialogue with Brooke claiming she doesn’t want his assistance with a bad attitude- she wants him to want to do the dishes. “Why would I want to do dishes?” he exclaims, which is a fair point. When I first watched this film, I thought Brook’s character was naggy but that’s not her fault, Gary puts her in that ‘mum’ position. What ensues is an annoyingly familiar argument within a relationship: Gary accuses Brooke of being crazy for wanting him to want to do chores, Brooke complains about never being given flowers, Gary says she’s always hated flowers to which she responds ‘Every girl likes flowers, Gary.’ Men interpret this line as evidence that Brooke is crazy whilst all the women nod understandingly- we all do love flowers, despite our oft protests towards conventional romanticism. Here is a perfect example of the mysticism of the female mind. Women change their minds all of the time. All of the time. We don’t expect men to read our minds but we would like you to try and keep up with them. And how can you do that? By paying attention. Or with a little outside help.
The denouement of the film reveals Gary did not pay attention to Brooke’s efforts, hints or requests and by the time he does, it’s too late. If only he paid attention and acted earlier. Women understand men need help but don’t always want to be the one to to help you. It takes away from the magic a little bit. It’s great when you remember to get us cute birthday cards but it sucks if we have to remind you a week in advance. Having to ask or remind someone to do something they already should be doing is as annoying as doing the chore itself.
For all the guys out there feeling like Gary, and the ladies feeling like Brooke, perhaps HeroBoyfriend is just what the Doctor Ordered.