Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why You Should Beware of Romantic Movies

Romantic movies, and romantic comedies in particular, are made to play into the supposed ideals of women, not to reflect the reality of relationships. If they did the latter, they wouldn't sell, because the public doesn't watch movies to see what they can experience in everyday life.

These movies, though made to reflect public opinion, in turn help to create or perpetuate the viewers' romantic ideals, and a deceptive cycle is formed. Very few people ever stop to ask themselves whether or not any of these fictions reflect real life. I know I didn't until well into my twenties, and I have acquaintances who clearly still have not.

Yes, Hugh Grant makes you woosy and increases your heart-rate; but how much of that is because he is a bumbling idiot and supplicating push-over who gives in to the courted woman's every wish; and how much of it is because of the romantic setting, the background music, the omission of anything less than perfect, and most importantly, the female audience's wishful thinking that they can have the best of both worlds - namely, a man who is strong enough that he isn't swayed by his emotions, but one who is swayed by his emotions so much that he can't control himself around a woman? This does not exist.

So be careful the next time you watch or read anything about a man or a woman in love - especially if you often find yourself looking for men like the ones you see in the movies. I do think there is a place for movies and novels in society, so I'll stop before this starts to sound too much like The Republic; but Plato wasn't entirely wrong to warn us of the pitfalls of fiction...

30 comments:

  1. Can you give an example of a movie that is closer to real life? Or maybe pieces of different movies?

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  2. To the above comment...why? Google Romantic Comedy. Stop wasting everyone's time.

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  3. But it's precisely when you start to sound like The Republic that things really get interesting. ;) This post is way too short!

    In all seriousness, I agree with your assessment of fictional love stories, whether in print or on the screen. It was after reading the Manosphere that I actively stopped reading them. It had become impossible to suspend disbelief.

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  4. So true, Andrew. The Manosphere describes romantic 'chick flicks' as women's equivalent of porn. I think they have a point there...
    Yes a good romantic drama is great entertainment - but that's all it is...entertainment. Havng said that, a girl needs SOME hope of finding a handsome, tall man who will sweep her off her feet though...otherwise, what's the point of life? ;)

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  5. I don't think this question belongs here, but didn't know where to put it.

    Women always complain that 'men never listen'. I am not sure whether a guy forgetting details is a sign he is uninterested or just forgetful.
    After dating a guy a couple of months (intensely, seeing each other every second day or so, on his initiative), he asked me if I'd ever been to is hometown (big city). I had told him that I had been there on our first date. We even talked about restaurants. I have en entire facebook album from that city (with it being the title), out of 5 albums only, and I KNOW he's been going through my profile (it's clear from other facts he knows and he contact me there also).
    He asked me just as we were lying in bed. I didn't say anything about it, other than "yes, of course". I don't get it? As a really far-fetched theory, he's been coming on a little stronger than me, and I speculated whether he wanted to seem less keen/informed than he is? Other than that, I don't understand how he could forget.
    Is it a bad sign if a guy appear to forget little details?

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    1. It isn't a definite sign, no. It could mean he isn't interested in you, but it could also be a reflection to his disinterest in what you are saying, or preoccupation with something else WHILE you were saying it. It doesn't mean he isn't interested necessarily.

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    2. Men aren't as good with remembering random details. As problem solvers, we're used to filtering out content from conversations that, although it may be interesting at the time, is ultimately unimportant. Women on the other hand tend to be more interested in maintaining relationships, and so consider bits of personal information as important.

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    3. And this is where I am like a man, I was with a guy who was constantly telling me that I do not listen. It's not that I don't listen or that I've even forgot, it is that the information is not at the forefront of my brain if he randomly brings it up. I normally ask about stuff that I have talked about before with people just for their answers to remind me that actually I do remember, I just didn't at the previous moment, if that makes sense.

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  6. I'm curious as to what your opinion is on TV shows like "The Big Bang Theory" and how they affect perception (are they helping or hurting the Red pill cause so to speak.) I've been watching it, with new eyes since finding your blog,lots of Manosphere references in it. It's like a visual representation of everything Beta.

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    1. Never seen or even heard of it, sorry...

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  7. Funny enough I always thought The Notebook was realistic.....or is it not? Hmmm. I found their connection realistic, regardless of whether Noah was a pushover or not. Maybe I'm just saying this cause I am in exactly the same plot as The Notebook.
    But anyway in this modern day and age I would hope to think that people, women, don't look up to romantic movies as the ideal/reality....Better yet, I wonder if romantic movies affect mens perception of courting a woman, whether they feel the need to supplicate to her, to an almost point of being a pushover....Just like how porn often changes mens expectations of how real world women should perform...

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  8. If you think there is room for it, maybe you can do a post on 'women's drama'?

    Or men's lack of it. Like many women I have experienced feeling like the oversensitive one. I've been seeing a guy and he's affectionate in person and all that, but I went quite a bit of days with no response from him. I got very upset, now he gets back to me and acts as if nothing is wrong. He initiates all contact and usually quite often, but ideally I obviously want him to think of and contact me all the time.

    How do you know if a man is acting calm in an attempt to calm you down or out of sheer indifference? Would you say men are less emotional than women, and we need to find an equilibrium where we accept some of that?

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    1. I think you get some men are more emotional and some who are not very emotional and that the same can happen with women. I think that in relationships many people make the mistake of assuming the other person knows how they feel. This is something else which we get from romance movies - that men can be completely in tune with how a woman is feeling. I don't expect a man to be in tune with how I feel all the time but I do expect him to care and really listen if I tell him how I feel. That's a lot more important.

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  9. The effects of romantic fiction (it begins with Barbie and Ken, Mills and Boon, Austen) being the same as porn is a good observation. Both feed unrealistic expectations and can ruin relationships. Unfortunately, relationships often do start with the quivering, heart palpitating, swooning, madness. And it's enjoyable. Then it dissipates with a thud. How to make the transition is a skill many of us fail to accomplish. Andrew, I hope you expand on this excellent start.

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  10. I have no idea what kind of TV you watch, so your response is probably limited to that.

    Romance movies/romantic comedies are directly aimed at women. But what about other series/media - do you think they give women the wrong idea when it comes to dating too?
    When I watch How I met your Mother, it always bugs me how Robin is portrayed as the ideal woman, sort of 'cooler' than everyone else - and she is afraid of commitment and has several qualities I would characterize as typically "male".
    I watch Californication (which is not gender specific, maybe slightly aimed at men), and the male characters may be sleeping around a lot - it does illustrate well how men separate sex and emotions - but all the male characters do in fact experience a great love. Hank, Runkle and even Lew Ashby all have that one woman they never forget and seem to constantly try and win back.
    I'm sure this is all about a great plot and creating drama, but I can't help but notice that even the alpha asshats we see in series seem to have that "great love" and I'm sure the goal is to make men identify with these characters as well? Are there any shows on TV/movies you think illustrate men's mindset well? (Fingers crossed you don't reply "Entourage").

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    1. Interesting that you mention Californication. I don't watch TV, but I saw two season of that show on DVD a couple years ago. I think there are men like Hank Moody, yes, but I wouldn't set that as your standard of "how men are" - nor would I suggest that for any show. All of them play into the viewers' fantasies and ideals. Though they touch on reality at times, none categorically represents it. Susan Walsh has written highly about "Girls," though I haven't seen it. You might want to check that out. From her reviews, it sounds like the closest thing to reality you might get on TV. In general though, I recommend turning it off completely, and engaging in the real world. After a couple years away from the TV, you'll start to see your perceptions of "men" and "women" change because they wills start to reflect real experiences more.

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    2. You don't watch TV and don't do social media! I get where you're coming from, though I'm from a family in film production and read scripts growing up, so I can't really escape that love of fiction, I'm a bit absent-minded.
      Of course real men teach you a lot more, it's just that the best experience and learning often come the hard way. I guess I thought that series aimed at men would portray characters men see themselves in, and I was hoping there was a romantic in there somewhere in most of them :)

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    3. I've never thought of quitting TV but I'm prepared to do that as a kind of experiment. Have you written a post on this? Would love to hear more about how stopping watching television affected your experiences in dating. It sounds fascinating.

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    4. No I haven't written a post on that. I would think that in order to feel any effects, you would have to quit for a few years at least; and the full effect would probably take a good decade to manifest itself.

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    5. I only watch stuff on my laptop now and I've chosen not to have a TV as me and my ex watched waaayy too much TV. I often thought about getting rid of the TV when with my ex as it seemed like such a waste of time, but never did.
      Listen to this song for inspiration:

      Throw Away Your Television by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

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  11. I think men's influence from TV and movies is worse! The male 'ideal' in films and series directed towards men always have certain jerk 'qualities'. He'll be a player, see women as disposable, usually rich at a strangely young age and a bit of a smartass. Most young guys I know are mostly concerned with becoming a young Gordon Ghekko or just be able to wear a suit to work. The type of media guys are exposed to really creates a bunch of Peter Pans - boys dressed as men. They also have an idea of their twenties being about becoming that player they want to be and women not 'getting in the way' of that. Which is fair enough, but guys are taught by media that they're nobodies if they don't fuck around, which is ridiculous. Films directed towards men value cocky more than confident.

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    1. Wow. I totally agree with what you're saying about gross out comedies aimed at young people. I like films which actually the reality of it and probe beneath the surface of that player lifestyle/show how truly flawed the characters. In the first American Pie film, they do this but only in a slight way. The reason I find it funny is because they're a bunch of young guys talking about their sexual prowess but having very little or absolutely no success with the opposite sex. I like that they have a character who eschews the player stuff completely. But obviously these films have gone too far in their messaging.

      And yes it's so true. I meet so many men who are cocky rather than confident. Some people get the idea that being a confident man means being that player guy but it's far from the case. I definitely think men would benefit from not paying too much to these films either.

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  12. I took your advice and I'm not tempted to watch romantic comedies so much to switch off from the world. I think it's helping me to judge men on their own terms.

    But if I could pick a favourite it would be 'Shallow Hal'. It's not realistic for the obvious reason that getting over the attractiveness barrier would be a big ask for a lot of people (and I think it's important couples find each other attractive so I'm not critical of this). For me it shows that you have to take a big look at yourself and recognise your own flaws before deciding that no one is a good enough match for you; and to realise the important and not superficial qualities you should be looking for. I like 'Knocked Up' too because of the character transformation the man undergoes. I always find the flawed male characters in romantic comedies more endearing than the 'prince charming' type.

    But maybe women get into wanting to fix the bad boys because of the classic romantic plot line or a man falling in love and changing his ways, so they want to be the exception to the rule.

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  13. Andrew, I wanted to hear your thoughts on relationship manuals for women. What is the worst advice that comes out of these books? I think these relationship guides can be as poor an influence as romantic films.

    Personally the worst kind of advice I hear frequently dished out to people worried about their lack of success in dating is: "Just be yourself. The right person will come along when you least expect it. Just wait and it will happen" or something equally nonsensical. You hear people saying they don't want to improve their appearance or overcome social awkwardness because people should love them for who they are. I understand that it's a sensitive topic though and don't mean my opinion to come across as harsh or insensitive. I only think that self-improvement is a very attractive trait.

    To turn back to the original post, I think films promote the view that if you only be yourself, love will come to you.

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    1. I haven't really read many of those manuals (I did buy one once and I've read a couple issues of COSMO just for kicks), but I agree. The "just let it happen" stuff is bullshit. Equally bullshit, though, is the advice to approach men yourself and "take charge" of the situation by acting like a man. The best advice is to be active in a feminine way, namely, by making yourself attractive and approachable. Then of course you need to filter, since your attraction will lure in the bad with the good.

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  14. I agree that the male character in movies are very different from the ones women find attractive in real life. But what about the female characters?
    Have you seen "There's something about Mary?". How much do characters like hers vary from those men love in real life?

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    1. What a good question, Sophie. I'd love if Andrew addressed because I think it would be a thoughtful post.

      An interesting example is the 'manic pixie dream girl' trope, exemplified by the type of characters played by Zoey Deschanel.

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    2. I can't stand Zoey, so I am hoping she is not the dreamgirl to a lot of men. I am guessing she falls under the category of women who try too hard to identify with men, especially her character in "New Girl" (which is pretty much designed after her personality).

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  15. You know what is weird is that I always thought romantic movies were BS and could not stand them until I actually fell in love. Now I can not get enough of them and some of my favorite movies are romantic movies like Ever After for example. To me it is strange that these movies appeal to people who are not in love.

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  16. I feel like the biggest mistake people make when basing relationships off of romantic comedies is this: they expect the guy to know exactly what the girl wants. We end up expecting him to be able to know when we're angry, to know that when we walk away we actually want him to chase after us. In real life, it's all about communication. No, it's not as romantic as the mind-reading they do in the movies, but no one is a mind reader in real life.

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