Date

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

American Studies

First Adviser

Doty, Alexander M.

Other advisers/committee members

Pettegrew, John C.

Abstract

This thesis will examine the filmic conventions and ideological implications of the current reigning mode of the romantic comedy genre: the romantic hommecom (more popularly referred to as "romcoms for boys"). The romantic hommecom essentially centers one or more male characters within a neo-traditional romantic comedy-a mode typically associated with female audiences-infused with elements of the male-centered gross-out or buddy comedy. This current strain of the romantic comedy genre builds on previous generic conventions, but the romantic hommecom is primarily concerned with moving the supposedly immature and irresponsible single male away from his homosocial bonds and/or unconventional lifestyle, and "elevating" him to his proper role in patriarchal society through a monogamous heterosexual relationship. This masculine "redemption," however, typically comes at the great expense of female subjectivity and is ultimately of questionable value to all parties involved. My argument then provides close readings of three romantic hommecoms: Wedding Crashers (2005), The 40-Year Old Virgin (2005), and Knocked Up (2007)-all of which have been particularly important in working out the generic conventions and defining the ideological anxieties within this contemporary, dominant mode of romantic comedy. My critical position maintains that the millennial romantic hommecom is an anxiety-ridden, conservative response to the increasingly destabilized state of white, heterosexual masculinity. The objective of these films is not to offer progressive resolutions to these issues, but t~ mystify them, along with their larger social contexts, through the irresistible spectacles of gross-out humor and compulsory "happy endings."

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