Love For Sale

I think I finally understand the appeal of romantic comedies. But first an important question: Have you ever read fan fiction?

Basically, fan fiction is an unofficial, non-canon sequel or companion piece to a piece of fiction not at all affiliated with the creators. As the name implies, it is exclusively produced by a fan.

Why does fan-fiction exist? For a number of reasons. As a writing exercise. As a testament of loyalty and/or fandom. To give eternal life to a beloved franchise. Or (most likely) maybe it's to fulfill a long-sustained fantasy.

I'm going to segue abruptly to a famous term anyone remotely familiar with TVtropes.org should know: Shipping. Shipping is the pairing of two characters whom the viewer/reader believes should have a romantic interest. Most commonly, two lead characters with unresolved sexual tension. Within the canonical confines of a TV show, shipping almost invariably spells doom (Moonlighting, The X-Files, and CSI spring instantly to mind.) But in the no-holds-barred world of fan-fiction, anybody gets paired with anybody else. It's up to the lewd, perverted mind of the writer.

Now, what does all this have to do with romantic comedies? Simple; Romantic comedies are the ultimate form of fan fiction.

Hollywood producers tap into the primal urges of the target audience. Think about the astronomical number of mouth-breathers who go apeshit every time there's a celebrity hook-up, break-up or sex scandal. What if we could harness that power and profit from it? What if we could ship together two of the hottest celebrities in LA-LA-Land, project their romantic private lives onto 50-foot screens across the country, then sell the DVDs to In Touch reading freaks for $22 a pop?

Through the magical power of the RomCom, we can ship together an infinite permutation of actors and actresses, drag them through the artificial trenches of relationship hell, and both thespians come out smelling like roses on the other side. Meanwhile, audiences get to pretend Guy HotChest and Dame SweetLegs are actually canoodling, and studio execs get to refill their money bins in time for their Thursday morning breastsroke.

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