I… what? Not all nerdy boys who are bad at talking to women are Nice Guys™.Some of them are just kids who haven’t developed confidence or figured out how to talk to girls yet.
For the record, Kat and Bianca are obviously who you watch this movie for. And I’m not calling Cameron a paragon of modern feminist thought. But I don’t think he really qualifies as a Nice Guy™.
I don’t consider Cameron a Nice Guy because he’s awkward. I consider Cameron a Nice Guy because he spends the whole movie doing nice things for Bianca, someone he knows nothing about when he takes on these tasks, so that she’ll date him. And when she seems like she’s not interested in him romantically, he gets upset. He doesn’t want to be her friend, he just wants to date her, and it seems unfair to him that he would do nice things for her and then she would reject him romantically.
There are two separate parts of your argument here, as far as I can tell:
- Cameron is a Nice Guy because he is attracted to someone and does nice things for her so she will date him.
- Cameron is a Nice Guy because he gets upset when she doesn’t appear to be interested in him romantically and thinks it’s unfair that he does nice things for her and she doesn’t want to date him.
The first part is bullshit. It is a perfectly valid thing to be attracted to someone and do nice things for them in an attempt to convince them to date you. I would go so far as to say it is perfectly valid to be attracted to someone romantically but not want to just be friends with them, but that is not central to this discussion.
The second part, if true, is on the road to identifying Cameron as a Nice Guy. While it’s reasonable to do nice things for someone in the hope of proving oneself a desirable romantic partner, it’s not okay to think you deserve to be with someone just because you did something nice for them.
There is a distinction between thinking you deserve to be with someone, and being upset that someone you’re interested in doesn’t want to be with you. The former is a sign of Nice Guy-ism; the latter is a sign of humanity. I personally think Cameron falls well within the bounds of the latter camp.
To me, it’s the perceived pattern of victimisation that makes a Nice Guy: “WHY OH WHY do those STUPID WOMEN always go for ASSHOLE BAD GUYS?” And I don’t see that in Cameron. Cameron is aware that attracting Bianca’s interest is going to be difficult, but—for whatever shallow reason—he decides to make the effort anyway. He is quite understandably unhappy when it seems like his efforts have been unsuccessful, but I don’t remember him blaming his failure on Bianca being a stupid woman.
What he does do is call her out on being a selfish, spoiled person who repeatedly lied to him and took advantage of his interest in her to get a date with someone else:
CAMERON: You never wanted to go sailing with me, did you?
BIANCA: Yes I did.
CAMERON: No you didn’t.
BIANCA: Well, okay, no, not actually.
CAMERON: Well then that’s all you had to say. Have you always been this selfish?
CAMERON: You know, just ‘cause you’re beautiful, that doesn’t mean that you can treat people like they don’t matter.
Guess what: it’s perfectly valid to call someone to account when they’re taking advantage of or manipulating you, regardless of whether or not you’re romantically interested in them.
Cameron does go on to make a laundry list of things he had done, and it’s pretty thin: defending someone you like against accusations of conceit doesn’t make you deserving of a cookie, and he was the one who opted to learn French for her. That’s the closest he comes to sounding like a Nice Guy—”I did all these things for you, and you lied to me and used me to get with someone else”. But that’s not the same thing as “I did all these things for you, and WHY AREN’T YOU SLEEPING WITH ME?”.
The difference is between doing nice things for someone and thinking that you deserve to be treated like a person in return, and doing nice things for someone and thinking that you deserve to own them in return. See the difference?
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