A few months ago, I wrote a column about "chick flicks," those overly sentimental movies like "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Steel Magnolias" that some women, I innocently deduced, seem to prefer.
I pointed out how chick flicks were easily identifiable because they feature such plot elements as terminal illness, failed romance, and women against the world.
I noted that men had much better things to do than to watch movies that bummed us out or that featured the demise of our entire gender.
Since I wrote that column, I have been approached by a few women who took offense to it, some good-naturedly, some not so good-naturedly. Their point seems to be that many women don't like those kinds of movies any more than men. That perhaps I was at best stereotyping the fairer (no offense) sex, and at worst I was a typical male sexist pig.
Another point they made was that maybe it was high time I did a column about guy flicks. In fact, such a column, they implied, might be the only way I could redeem myself.
Being the insensitive male that I am, I ignored these requests. Until, that is, I came across an Associated Press article headlined "Guy films: Guns are optional."
Exercising my God-given guy ability to take the path of least resistance, I said to myself, "Eureka! At last I can write that column about guy flicks and redeem myself in the eyes of all womandom.
Besides, with a six-screen cineplex opening this fall at Sawmill Crossing, we best get this issue resolved.
The article, written by David Germain, pointed out that most people think of guy flicks as action-adventure thrillers like "Mission: Impossible," "The Wild Bunch," "Dirty Harry," "Die Hard," and "Lethal Weapon." You know the type: lots of shootouts, car chases, explosions, and sundry other types of loud, macho dialog and violent behavior.
But while that may have once been true, Germain observes, it no longer seems to be the case based on a recent spate of movies featuring guys in sensitive, caring roles. Among the movies that belie the old stereotype, he cites two late-summer releases, "The Tao of Steve," a romantic comedy about an overweight lech who finds love and rethinks his libertine attitudes, and "Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire," about two brothers who share advice on their love lives.
He also mentions "Jerry Maguire" and "As Good As It Gets" as further examples of a trend in the making .... movies about men who gradually open up to their emotions and feelings.
Why is this happening? The theories Germain kicks around include men's increasing exposure to feminism, and the fact that higher divorce rates are causing more boys to grow up with their mothers as the dominant parent.
I don't know how many guys are still reading at this point, but I would suggest to those who are that the time might be opportune to jump on the sensitive male bandwagon. For one thing, it's a trend that I don't think we could slow down if we wanted to. For another, as I mentioned earlier, men have always been known for choosing the path of least resistance.
It goes all the way back to the beginning when Adam was overhead remarking to Eve, "I had my heart set on a banana, but what the heck, I'll have an apple with you."
For an example closer to home, legend has it the chief of the Shooflys simply shrugged and started packing when the first lady suggested she needed larger digs.
I'm not saying this is an admirable male trait. In fact it's no doubt one of our gender's many glaring weaknesses. On the other hand, why step in front of a roaring freight train.
Now two roaring freight trains on a collision course, that would make a great movie scene. Maybe Schwarzenegger and Eastwood at the throttles.
Of course at the last second they slam on the brakes, meet on the tracks, hug each other, and have a heartfelt discussion about their emotional needs.
See how this works, guys?