December 16, 2008

The Notebook isn't good for you

Filed under: Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , — Melanie @ 10:34 pm

A recent study blames romantic comedies for unrealitisc relationship expectations. FINALLY!

Rom-coms have been blamed by relationship experts at Heriot Watt University for promoting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.

They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.

Many held the view if someone is meant to be with you, then they should know what you want without you telling them.

Psychologists at the family and personal relationships laboratory at the university studied 40 top box office hits between 1995 and 2005, and identified common themes which they believed were unrealistic…

“We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds.

“The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise.”

I’ve been lecturing on this very topic for years. It became evident in my own life many years ago when I went to see Kate and Leopold. Here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2002:

I did it again…thinking about the movie I saw last night- “Kate and Leopold.”

I don’t think these romantic movies are good for me. Entertainment inventing reality. Cold, eternal winter, heart frozen, walking to my car alone, sitting in the theater alone, feeling disappointed with my own experiences, my lack of quality experiences with men, yearning for Leopold. Hoping I’ll meet a man like that or have a situation like that. Dreaming. Feet hitting the ground evenly, beat of heart and step of feet in unison.

I’m pissed for thinking about this, because I feel like that’s so much of what women do…fret over, discuss men, scenarios, fairytale meetings, fairytale marriages, mystical connections, unborn babies, and none of it is real. It is not happening right now. I don’t know if it ever happens, if I want it to happen, if it could happen. Why does this matter? It shouldn’t matter. Spoon-fed illusions, unrealistic images of what I should be, what we should be, and what relationships should be, what we should hope for, what I should expect. Dangerous expectations. Manufactured dissidence, manufactured bliss built on a delusion.

Romantic comedies are like heroin.  I know it’s bad for me but I keep shooting up with the latest installation. It’s not surprising, really.  Romantic comedies or “chick flicks” simply reinforce the same themes, messages, images and heterosexual story lines that we’re socialized to adore and believe in as young girls. Rarely, do I feel better about my love life or my romantic relationships after one of these films.

The Notebook has got to be one of the worst films ever.  I realize this is not a romantic comedy but it serves the same function.  It creates a set of expectations about what heterosexual relationships should look like. I always advise my students, women and men, to view this film critically. Shit, this guy builds the love of his life a house!  A freakin’ house! Talk about unrealistic.

And, we (women, specifically) watch film after film, year after year and the we wonder why we aren’t satisfied or why we compare our relationships and ourselves to characters and plot lines from films.

1 Comment »

  1. I love this post. The emptiness that I and most other women feel is due to the expectations we have formed according to the media and romantic movie plots. The Notebook is my favorite, but it gives me false hope and unrealistic expectations which ultimately create a void that can’t be filled

    Comment by ? — October 10, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

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