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Friday, 27 November 2015

Problematic Love Stories

Problematic Love Stories

On my recent flight to Kazakhstan I was flicking through the film choices and settled on what seemed like a harmless rom-com. It was written by the same person as 'My Best Friend's Wedding' (one of my all time favourite films), starred Chris Evans, and most importantly would provide ninety minutes worth of distraction on a four hour plane ride. What could possibly go wrong?

Well it turns out a lot. The film made me laugh out loud in places, and on the surface could be read as a fun, frothy romance where guy falls in love with girl, guy defeats objects in way of being with girl, final kiss and they live happily ever after. But something about it didn't sit right with me: I was rooting against Mr. Romantic Hero Lead, which is not something I normally do, and I felt thoroughly unsettled by the end. 

See throughout the plot Mr. Romantic Lead wouldn't give up on chasing the Leading Lady, even when it was pretty clear she wasn't interested. She was engaged to someone else so he kept trying to ruining things for her, even though it looked like she was perfectly happy with her existing life, which is really romantic right?

When they finally sleep together he makes this big deal about how he's being needy and shouldn't be, as if it was totally weird that he cared about her the next morning. That and the fact he made it out to be a 'girly' thing to be doing drove me crazy, and don't even get me started on the final scene. When someone is crying about the fact that they just ruined their wedding and they tell you to leave them alone, that does not mean 'please kiss me'. It means leave them alone.

Ultimately, though, it was the plot line of 'it is romantic to keep chasing after someone even when it's clear that they are not interested' that I just couldn't get onboard with. There is nothing adorable about someone actively plotting to ruin someone else's life in the name of love. There is nothing admirable about someone who won't give up when they're getting signals that make it abundantly clear that the object of their desire is happy and uninterested. It doesn't give you license to be a horrible person to your friends, just because you're 'following your heart'. And there's nothing wrong with wanting someone to call the morning after you sleep with them: it doesn't make you needy, nor is it a 'girly' thing to do (I want to punch something every time I hear that word).

We live in a culture where 'blurred lines' and the active male pursuit of passive women is having horrifying consequences. Now don't get me wrong, the woman in the movie did give some signals that she liked the romantic lead and it seemed like she was happy in all of their sexual encounters. But movies that romanticise the intense pursual of someone undermine the concept of consent and the important lessons that a lot of people are working hard to get across.

We need to teach both sexes that successful romantic partnerships come from enthusiasm on both sides: if you actively have to convince someone to go out with you then you probably shouldn't be together. Grey areas will become a whole lot clearer if we set the bar to 'actively interested in someone' as opposed to 'could be persuaded to be interested', and the media we consume often shapes our thinking. So sorry Chris Evans, as cute as your acting was, the story line isn't okay. I for one want to start seeing romances where we set a better standard of power dynamics. It's okay to be keen (and it's certainly okay to want someone to call!), but isn't it better when both people are?

4 comments:

  1. some people can only exist as half a couple, not as a person in their own right , this view doesn't fit with the average rom com

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  3. "If you love something, let it go. If it returns, it's yours; if it doesn't, it wasn't." But I think that the guy isn't the only one to blame, because the woman is just as much an active participant in the entire situation. If she didn't want anything to do with him, she would not have slept him.
    Btw, I nominated you for the LIEBSTER AWARD, you can check it out in my latest post.

    http://www.brittneymathurin.com/

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    1. Thank you Brittany! I agree, he wasn't but I do think we need to change some of the rhetoric we place on romance xxx

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