What makes it funny?

There's a new movie out that we'd like to see. Here's the basic plot.

A couple start going out. One decides to break up. The other one is upset, as well as being a lot physically stronger, and decides to make the ex's life completely miserable, with destruction of property, death threats and emotional manipulation.

Here's the thing though: it's not a thriller, it's a comedy.

The movie is based on the idea of a mild-mannered guy falling for a sweet-looking girl who is actually a super-hero, albeit fairly flawed. When he decides to call the relationship off, she won't let him go. The slogan for 'My super ex-girlfriend' is: he broke her heart, she broke his everything. Sounds hilarious, right?

But I've been puzzling about why it's a funny idea. All over the world relationships break up in these circumstances, and we consider it to be tragic. It's certainly not amusing to see people take out restraining orders against manipulating, controlling violent former partners. It's not a laughing matter that most murders are committed in a domestic situation.

The only thing I can come up with is that in this movie, the one who is doing the threatening and violence is a woman. The idea wouldn't work as a funny movie if it was a male superhero threatening a human girlfriend. Is seeing women with power intrinsically amusing?

How does something become funny? I think it must be by turning the situation around. Many more men dominate and control women than the other way. When a woman is able to hold physical power over a man, it's the plot of a Hollywood comedy.

I'm still at a bit of a loss as to the implications of this. I'll have to see the film and see how the characters are treated. My guess is that the superhero girlfriend will be characterised as slightly ridiculous. If the movie was the other way around and the superhero was a male, I think he would be portrayed as menacing and evil.

In the meantime, I'm going to start analysing things I find funny and try to work out what humour is made of.

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