Romance movies’ influence on our culture is ruining our expectations for love and relationships.
Elise Anderson ’17
The destruction of contemporary culture’s understanding of love is a result of the portrayal of romance in film.
The selective storytelling of film in media tells us what we should care about and establishes socially accepted standards. In society, we are told to center our lives around love and relationships. We are told that love is placed above ambition and personal growth. The patriarchal society and gender norms cling simply to the stability of a familiar viewpoint and create a standard to which they hold against all others.
The knight in shining armor arrives on a white horse to save a maiden. The persistent but childish comedic friend finally wins the girl. The prince of the warring family meets the princess in a forbidden affair. However, no one asks the big question: what happens next? Reality in the relationships we have with others is a part of cinematic storytelling that is absent.
Laura Marostica validates the idea that opinions are easily molded. Her explanation is that, “A parallel theory suggests that even if viewers aren’t necessarily taking notes in front of the movies they watch, what they see over a long period of time will still shape what they perceive as normal, thanks to oft-repeated themes and images in the land of movie love.”
We model our behavior after what we see from people around and similar to us. Dr. Bjarne Holmes analyzes this cultural interpretation and influence of cinematic romance. “People feel if their relationship is not like a Hollywood film then it is not any good.” General awareness surrounds this genre and only builds in extremity.
This market also establishes a gender model that dictates their behavior, actions, self-regard, and sense of purpose in a relationship. The role of both partners has built-in expectations for how to act and treat each other. Jake and Melissa Kircher question the distortion of love. “As people consume the media’s view of love, it’s becoming more common for relationships and marriages to be primarily based on a desire for happiness and personal fulfillment when these feelings fade, people think love is gone and become an emotional train moving from one lover or spouse to the next.” Where do we know when love starts? If the only measure of a standard relationship comes from what we see on screen, we miss out on building strong relationships that develop naturally.
The treatment of significant others is another guide to finding the fairytale. They teach the acceptance of utilizing power over one another. Erika Turner argues, “we are taught over and over the value of desperate love – love so powerful that it destroys our sense of self and, sometimes, is cause enough to destroy another person.” Film gives romance movies the ability to put emotional strength on the same plane as physical strength. Teaching reciprocal, selfless love is what should be emphasized in widespread media, not teaching how to take advantage of those who actually do love us.
As a college student whose parents encourage my personal ambition, self-love, and pursuance of education, I want my future children to live in a society where love doesn’t have to be culturally constructed. They can find value in what true love for someone is rather than fall victim to the pretenses of what the media and society tell them to expect from love.
I want my children, and all children of the forthcoming generations, to truly comprehend the influence of movies. I need them to truly comprehend that movies do not need to be a social model.
So after the happily ever after, the knight doesn’t know how to communicate. The friend turned love interest can’t handle responsibility. The prince won’t get past the differences that divide their families.
There must always be a reality to every perfect on-screen love interest. Romance films only tell as far as the fairytale.