Dear Movie Producers:
You have really messed up my understanding of romantic relationships.
I am not a movie buff, but I like movies, and am deeply affected by what I see. Honestly, I have a hard time separating movies (and books, for that matter) from reality. I feel like the actors and characters are my friends, or myself, and that our lives coincide. Am I the only one like this? I have to be quite careful about the media I take in because of its effect on me.
But though I like them, I’m tired of movies that epitomize forbidden romance and the great feelings that go along with the beginning of a relationship.
I’m tired of movies that capitalize on a myth that huge romantic actions are the norm and feeling swept away leads to good decisions.
I’m tired of movies that take me to the altar yet never give me a peek of what a long marriage is like.
Take the classic Titanic, for example. When it came out (and yes, I’m dating myself), I had just studied the actual stories of the Titanic to teach my sixth grade class. This romance was completely impossible—they never would have been able to physically share the same space on the boat. After only a few passionate days of forbidden romance, he’s ready to give his life for her, and she maintains this “true love” for the rest of her life. And we watch and cry, because the story of reality is missing. It’s only the story of dreams that never became (and could never become) reality.
And then there’s Sleepless in Seattle, which stole my heart, but it’s all about magic in a moment of meeting. There’s no hard reality. And the same two loveable actors star in You’ve Got Mail, another crowd-pleaser that has two people beginning a correspondence while in other relationships. And somehow, she is able to forgive the fact that he caused the family store to go under because he’s just so darn great. And we cry again as she realizes it’s been him all along. Again, it’s about the beginning of the relationship.
And often, if movies show marriage, it is about a stale marriage where one partner escapes into a great romantic beginning again with someone else.
Here’s the problem these and other movies caused me: they made me think that romance was about these great feelings. They showed me beginnings and never showed me how things continued. They stole my heart and made me expect that any real lover would steal my heart not just at the beginning, but every single day.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe others realize that movies shouldn’t shape our expectations of reality. Maybe others rejoice in the beauty of their reality when it’s not like the movies and has long, hard times.
You see, life isn’t lived from emotional high to emotional high like in the movies, but in the in-between moments when we depend on our rationality and rejoice in stability. Maybe that’s too boring or too real to be part of a plot in a movie.
Why do the movies teach me that romance only about him and me? The exclusive two spending money on a candlelit dinner. Why is romance escaping my kids? Why can’t it be romantic to walk with my child and my husband into the great unknown? (or maybe just down the street to the park)
And why can’t it be the greatest, and possibly most romantic thing to come home from work to toys everywhere, dinner splattering over the stove and a sloppy kiss and giggle from a dirty kid because I get to live this life with my spouse?
Movie-romance is just a dream—it gone when I wake up. And it was only ever in my mind. It’s time we change what romance means to us.
I had too much time alone to watch these movies and make dreamy-romance plans for every day of my future. And don’t get me wrong—I’ve had huge romance. But most of life is lived between the highs, and that’s reality.
Maybe movies are an escape from reality, but why do I need to escape from my reality? Is it movies that tell me my reality is not good, or is it truly lacking? And who decides that?
Reality is better than dreams and movies because it’s real. And I get to live it.