Learning from life

Romantic Comedies

A report yesterday, published on BBC and then picked up by Huffington Post, claims romantic comedies can be blamed for poor relationships. The report, by Heriot Wall University, claims these swoon-fests give people “unrealistic expectations” when it comes their love life.

As BBC said: “They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.”

To me it seems a little like people trying blame the media, again, for societal issues. It all goes back to that chicken or egg debate. What came first? Is it the media that influences the way we think and act in the world, or does the media offer a social commentary on the way the world is?

I guess it’s one of those things you may never really know the answer to, but I would have to say that those silly movies, are just movies. I’ve heard from psych teachers that as children we are impressionable. We take things we see on television to be facts, reality — and part of that, I would say, can be good to help us understand some ways of the how the world works. I guess this is where I would say if someone never tells that child that what you see on television, in movies (and now on the Web) can only be taken at face value, with a grain of skepticism, well, then it’s the environment. 

Maybe I’m the exception, but I wouldn’t blame the way I think about relationships on television. Everything I know about how to interact, romantically and otherwise, I learned from my family, not the TV. I loved “Rom-coms” as a kid, teenager and even now. They are entertaining. They make you wish sometimes that love and life could be as simple as it is in movies, but a couple of years, much less a couple of days, in the real world and people are easy to see life certainly isn’t like television. And I’m not so sure I would enjoy a “perfect” drama with the perfect ending. The complications and drama is our lives is what makes it interesting. 

Sure, we like living in our imaginations and thinking what it would be like to meet a handsome stranger while wandering around Ireland, or making bets about love only to find it 10 days later, but those are the kinds of tall tales you don’t hear outside of movies. And if we are going to talk about unrealistic expectations, think about fairy tales we read to children when they are at their most impressionable. We are taught as toddlers about “happily ever after,” and yet, most people would say they have yet to find it. Prince Charming could be just as dangerous as Hugh Grant. And for that matter, just as dangerous as Shakespeare, who is taught in every English literature class in the world. These stories don’t give people unrealistic expectations, our environments do. 

We learn from those around us. What our peers tell us as children and what sort of lies or half-truths our parents pass on about romance determines how we think about them. Children observe, and they notice how daddy talks to mommy. Didn’t the psychological community also say that children of divorced parents are less likely to believe in love and are more likely to get divorces themselves? Or did I just see that on the Web one day? No, I think these sorts of ideas are true. We learn from the real world what the real world is like and if our entire lives someone is feeding us fairy tales, chances are we are more likely to believe in happily ever after. 

So I don’t think movies, films, books give us unrealistic views of love. Everyone has a different definition of real love to begin with. And sure, who doesn’t want Jude Law falling madly in love with them with little effort beyond a plane ticket and a smile? Romance is a state of mind and something to escape into. When feeling blue, women most likely put in that feel-good, romantic comedy because (key point) it helps them forget about reality.

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  1. […] 17, 2008 · No Comments I just posted an entry about this study on Romantic comedies. This study may bother me, but I love rom-coms. Here’s […]

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