Clumsiness Is Not Cute

Romantic comedies and Disney have told us so many lies and given us so many misguided expectations that I could easily dedicate an entire blog to breaking these struggles down one by one. Suffice it to say that reality is thoroughly disappointing.

I am slapped in the face with the inaccuracy of one particular lie on a daily basis: that being klutzy is somehow charming. Here in the real world, it’s just not. After being so regularly slapped in the face I am, naturally, quite angry. Like all good passive aggressive people do, I have decided to deal with my anger by writing a letter I will never send:

Dear Romantic Comedy Writers,

I have tripped and fallen on my face in catastrophic ways on four continents. I wipe out like it’s my job. I’ve falling into a gutter, lost my laptop to a snowmageddon wipe-out, tumbled down steps in China and couldn’t walk for days, and let’s not even get started on these lovely Parisian streets.


Technically this is taken from campus and, if anything, slightly less adorable than my block.

Actually, let’s. Let’s talk about this, Romantic Comedy Writers. I am in Paris. I live about three blocks from the Eiffel Tower. I am surrounded by charming little cafes and my next-door neighbor is an upscale flower shop. My neighborhood, and this whole entire city, is ridiculously cute and a thousand times more lovely than the poor imitation you construct in Burbank.

Warner Brothers Back Lot

Warner Brothers Back Lot. Way less cute, right?

Unfortunately, the roads here being old and my capacity with the bipedal arts being what they are, I trip and fall a lot. It happens.

According to the version of events that you have been feeding me for my entire life, after I lose track of my own feet in the little cobblestone path and go tumbling down, a charming Patrick Dempsey lookalike in a suit is supposed to appear, help me to my feet, and offer to buy me dinner.

I can tell you that after years of trial-and-error with the methodology proposed in movies, it just does not work this way. I fall and I am left to pull myself up and dust off my own wounded pride all by my bruised little lonesome.

Mindy Kaling wrote a piece for the New Yorker about the wholly fabricated female archetypes created in the world of romantic comedies. The RomCom Klutz is first on her list:

The Klutz clangs into stop signs while riding her bike and knocks over giant displays of fine china in department stores. Despite being five feet nine and weighing a hundred and ten pounds, she is basically like a drunk buffalo who has never been a part of human society. But Fred Tom loves her anyway.

Clearly I need to chop off a limb so that I can weigh 110 pounds, as that’s what is missing in order to make Fred Tom love me.

But I digress. I was writing a letter, wasn’t I? Right. Romantic Comedy Writers, if MTV had to insert a warning at the front of episodes of Beavis & Butthead to remind people that they were watching cartoon characters and they couldn’t try that nonsense at home, you should also be required to warn us that the version of reality you present is potentially hazardous to our health.

RomCom Warning: May produce endless bruises and ego damage. Handsome male lead not included.

Someday, when I break an arm or something falling all over myself, I think I’ve got grounds for a law suit. Except for the fact that I have this digital record of my inability to remain on my own two feet, wholly independent of your misguided representation of the world. Oops.

Fine Romantic Comedy Writers, I won’t be able to sue you for anything and I’ll probably continue to watch the shit you put out because I’m a sucker. But consider this my formal complaint. I don’t care so much that you’ve lied to me, because, as I said, I expect that from you. On this particular count, the way you represent clumsiness, you’re just assholes.

No one thinks, “Oh look at the way her knees are all scraped up – how endearing!” It’s more, “It’s noon – is this girl drunk already? Bad form.” But for making me believe the former is possible, I repeat: you’re just assholes.

I think you owe me an apology. Several, in fact. At least one for my pride and one for each of my knees. My pride and my knees will accept your apologies if they are delivered with DVDs of Crazy Stupid Love or Monte Carlo (shut up, Selena Gomez is adorable.) Also a bottle of wine.



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  • Nikki Ursprung

    The annoying thing is that, even if there is a handsome man around, they give you this look of absolute shock and horror if you trip over something (tree root, cobblestone, your own feet, etc) and land square on your face.  It’s not even this “I should help her because she could be injured” reaction; it’s all “That girl is totally freaking broken beyond all repair.”

    • Sweeney

      Pretty much. I can’t fault this fictional man too much though, because that assessment is probably accurate, at least in my case. #wompwomp

  • Shelly

    I will definitely agree with everything you said.  I am 99% sure Nick has never found my clumsiness cute or endearing.  It’s mostly a pain in the butt that I break most things in our house.  We can no longer use our iron because I tripped on my foot and knocked over the ironing board and broke the iron.  

    • Sweeney

      Or having to rearrange furniture in a way that will yield the least instances of tripping over shit?

  • Rose

    I love you. I think this every time I don’t meet a cute charming guy in a bookstore or the grocery store. Why do these stereotypes exist to torture me?

    • Sweeney

      I love you too.  I don’t know why they are trying to torture us, but it is quite clear that mocking us is the sole reason they exist.

  • Brittany

    I for one am very glad you are standing up to all those gosh darn liars masquerading as romantic comedy movies. I too am very clumsy and am honestly surprised I haven’t killed myself yet.


  • Patty

    hahahahaa. this made me laugh so hard.
    thanks for the link to mindy kalling’s piece. brilliant stuff.

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