I. Hate. It. Well, not really. Actually, ‘hate’ is a fairly strong word… whatever. I’m going to explain so that we both are clear on this. This isn’t called “thoughts before coffee” for no reason, after all. Everything is still a bit fuzzy.
For starters, why are love stories almost always the same? It’s “meet -> fall in love -> some bullcrap happens -> separation through misunderstandings – > solution -> happily ever after”. Almost always! Don’t believe me? Check the love stories they used to read in the 3rd Century AD! I dare you.
I am not going to lie, I’m using the same tropes too. That paragraph above was not the main point. The next two are: the depiction of women, and the depiction of same-sex romances.
Women in romantic stories are bound to be portrayed as weak, gentle creatures that just need a man’s affection. This dates back to the first romantic stories, traced back to the reign of Rome, a time when women were ranked 4th in the species hierarchy, behind men, dogs and horses (they had their own version of ‘Borat’ back then). The familiar ‘damsel in distress’ theme was way too common in the early days of romantic stories. Young couples would meet and fall in love, get abducted by pirates or robot monkeys, and the man had to go rescue her.
Welcome to the 20th -21st century! Now we don’t need books! We’ve got movies now, you strange cave person! We’ve had the feminist movements that fought for equality, the world is now changed… or is it? Name a romantic movie that you like. Yes, it can be a Disney movie. Notice how women are pictured? You would expect them to be stronger, more independed, more self-aware. Are they? Are they really?
All it takes for them to be swept off their feet is a crazy (read: brave, risky, crazy) act from a man, and their hearts melt. Yes, the man does go through a lot of blood and gore sometimes, but is the ‘damsel in distress’ still a thing? Why? Why can’t we have a woman’s point of view in these stories? Don’t men get locked up in fancy towers, like, ever? Don’t we need to be saved? And, what about the other classical d**k move? You know the one: Man loves woman -> they get separated -> woman meets another man whom she now loves -> previous man rushes to their wedding and ruins it -> woman friggin’ follows! Ah, how romantic, depicting women as fickle heartbreakers! The ‘romantic’ tale of ‘The Notebook’ is not actually as heartwarming as you see it. Remember when ‘Cyclops’ from X-Men showed up after the war and was about to marry Allie? And how she later cheated on the poor bastard? How is that romantic? And how does that depict an independed, strong-willed and determined person? “Silly women, your hearts are playthings!” is what I see.
Next point: where are all the homosexuals? Ah yes, we did get those cowboys… then nothing? Oooh yeah, the recent roast Disney received from that gay kiss… You do see same-sex relationships in books, and that’s really nice, but never in a true romantic tale, and never as protagonists (if there is something I’m missing, let me know, please!). Where is our ‘Romeo and Alberto’, storywritters? And, dear filmmakers, if you never step up and say “we’re gonna depict those relationships and that’s that”, they will keep getting demonized.
I know the arguments: “I don’t want my kids to imitate them”, “why force us to watch those gross gays?”, etc. I knew cavemen with more open minds in 234.000 BC (mainly because of the clubs, but still…). Your kid will not ‘imitate’ homosexual behavior if it isn’t their cup of tea. Maybe they’ll experiment a bit, as is totally natural when teenagers start exploring their own sexuality. Maybe they are not as grossed out as you are when they see two guys or girls kissing. This is not about morality, and I’m not even here to defend same-sex rights (I would, guys and girls, but it’s not my point here, sorry). And no, a few kisses here and there won’t cut it. I’m not saying that all writers should start writing stories about this. I’m saying that, if a person does have that idea, they should go on with it. Just don’t make it as if you’re doing a favor to homosexuals. Do it only if you mean it. It will be a lot nicer.
Gotta go drink my coffee now. Bye!