Last week at The Hairpin, I wrote about She’s All That, as part of my ongoing series about romantic comedies:
She’s All That is a perfect example of how, in popular culture, male persistence in the face of female refusal is framed as romantic, desirable, and part of a healthy courtship. When Zach first tries to befriend Laney, he approaches her at school. She blows him off; he shows up at her workplace, where she tells him that “stalking is illegal in all 50 states.”
Next, he shows up uninvited to her house, and jokingly threatens to stay all day playing video games with her little brother—unless she consents to come to the beach with him. Later that night, when she says she can’t go to a party with him because she has to clean the house, he shows up again, this time with a soccer team tasked with cleaning her house. Now she has no excuse not to come out with him! She also has a troupe of complete strangers in her house. But now she can go to the party! Isn’t it charming how he won’t take no for an answer?
In the context of this movie, sure, it’s charming, I guess, with Freddie Prinze Jr’s big soulful eyes and very square jaw. He’s sweet as he threatens to camp out on her couch, unless she does what he wants, if affable threats are your thing. As viewers, we can suspend our disbelief and imagine we’d be cool with a bunch of fifteen-year-old boys we’ve never met cleaning our house —fifteen-year-old boys being known for their excellent hygiene and exceptional tidiness.
But the fact remains that Laney repeatedly tells Zach “no” and he repeatedly ignores her. Laney even uses the term “stalking,” and so does her best friend, but only to say, “The most popular guy in school is stalking you, and you aren’t the least bit curious?” Hardly the words of a concerned friend.
You can read the whole thing here.