Love is in the air. It’s a popular source of entertainment, integrated deeply into our culture’s media, and a favorite subject for writers, poets, and artists alike. The notion of romance, two people deeply in love, is not a new and fading fad. It’s hard to look around and not find something about love. Which star-crossed lovers is Entertainment Weekly going on about this week? Who’s cheating on who? Are you Team Edward or Team Jacob? While reading or immersing yourself into the world of scandalous romances, is romance being portrayed accurately? More importantly, is it healthy for young minds to look up to these figures?
O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
One of the classics, written by the notorious English writer William Shakespeare, the tale of young Romeo and even younger Juliet is a favorite one to be told and talked about. In the play six people tragically die; either indirectly or directly because of the union of these two people madly in love – or more accurately, obsessed – with each other. These deaths are a result of two mal-adjusted teenagers meeting at vulnerable points of their lives (Juliet being forced to marry a man she doesn’t know, and Romeo dealing with his love for Rosaline – Juliet’s cousin – being unrequited). They meet at a party, exchange a few words, and share a particularly passionate kiss. Soon after, Juliet already wishes death upon herself if Romeo is to be married. These are not two normal teenagers in love.
This book has been bashed and trashed time and time again. Personally, I didn’t think the book was terrible. It had it’s major flaws – but one of the things that bothered me the most about the ‘forbidden love story’ between Bella and Edward was how dependent Bella was and how creepy Edward is portrayed to be. However, thousands of young girls adore them. Vampires aren’t the scary part of this story. It’s how they warp the minds of many people into believing that their love story is a healthy one. Bella falls into a complete depression when Edward leaves her. She is inconsolable – while some may think this is to show how in love she was – it goes to show you that Edward was too much of a bad thing for her. He tells her numerous times how dangerous he is but Bella blindly believes the man with an unquenchable thirst for blood is the best choice for her. Edward also consistently tells her to stay away from his love rival Jacob and goes as far as to sabotage her car so she can’t see him. This should not be attractive behavior for anyone looking to be in a relationship.
I have to admit it is a cute love story if you squint and the world’s upside down. Don’t take me for a cynic – not completely at least – even I can enjoy the romantic boat rides and the struggles two people overcome to be with each other. In the first few scenes, Ryan Gosling’s character has jumped on a ferris wheel and threatens to jump off unless Rachel McAdam’s character agrees to go out on a date with him. That is coercion at its finest. If Ryan Gosling wasn’t the pretty boy that he was, the audience would definitely question his motives and mental stability, but luckily he is a handsome man – and like Edward Cullen – can get away with almost anything as long as he’s got a nice smile. When Rachel McAdams does accept his date – of course – he decides to bring her somewhere and lie on the sidewalk. I know when I get dressed up for a date – who basically forced me to accept it – I like to risk my life and ruin my clothes by lying on the dirty street floor where cars are free to run me over. Yes, a romance worth remembering indeed.
Chris Brown and Rihanna
A sweet relationship gone sour. Most know of Chris Brown and Rihanna relationship as two lovers, both up and coming celebrities, madly in love. Most know what happened soon after with the beatings Rihanna faced by the wrath of her ‘loving’ boyfriend. A strong young woman suddenly a victim of domestic abuse. While Chris Brown walked away basically unscathed (his reputation quickly making a recovery), his ex would have the bear the scars and marks that come with being a survivor. It’s interesting to watch the media quickly move on from Brown’s detestable actions, never to be mentioned again, as he grew to greater heights. The media doesn’t shame him for hurting Rihanna, but rather sugar-coats the pain he inflicts. Young girls around the world tweeted him with pleas for him to beat them. There wasn’t nearly as much coverage on Chris Brown’s wrongdoings as unhealthy, abusive behavior that should be condemned and never forgotten.
A Final Note
It’s easy to say people are smart enough not to be swept away by the falsities of the media, but out there thousands of young girls and boys take these people as their role models. They idealize and romanticize unhealthy behavior and get themselves stuck into situations where Hollywood doesn’t call the shots and they don’t end up with their happily ever after. It’s important to encourage the portrayal of normal, healthy relationships as ‘boring’ as they may be without the drama that comes with the other ones.