Saturday, March 28, 2015

Romance is Dead

So first there was Malificent, in which true love turned out to be a mother's for her daughter, and I finally just saw Frozen, in which true love turned out to be between sisters, and now I'm wondering, is this just two Disney movies or is there something important happening in the culture?

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

"X is dead" is always such an overblown, hysterical sort of statement.

We're not talking steamboats becoming obsolete here - we're talking about societal values and expressions of human intimacy shifting a bit. Nothing is "dead". People are just reconsidering long held assumptions and traditions - and in the cases of movies, telling slightly different stories which shy away somewhat from the absolute cliché of "traditional romance".

"Romance" is already such a convoluted, imprecise term with different (often contradictory) meanings depending on who you ask, and in what context. Even within a single culture in a single time frame, "romance" means something different to every person you ask. Everything from the cliché of candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach, to trashy vampire sex novels, to Adam Sandler comedy films can be labeled "romantic" with roughly equal degrees of accuracy. So unless somehow every single aspect of what people MIGHT consider romantic were to vanish, I don't see how it could ever possibly be dead.

But more than that, romance is simply one form of love - a fact that our society is starting to explore and embrace a bit more openly. I fail to see how a couple of movies which suggest that love between siblings or love between a parent and child can be as powerful as romantic love (if not more so) spells out "the death of romance". Romantic love already occupies a huge, completely disproportionate amount of our cultural attentions - we can absolutely afford to have a handful less movies carrying that tired old banner, and instead carry somewhat less championed ideas.

I'm reminded of when majority American Christians complain they're "under attack" and being "marginalized" by secular or minority religious forces. When you're the top dog with the lion's share of benefits, you absolutely are not somehow a victim when someone else gets thrown a few scraps. A handful of mosques springing up in a city of hundreds of churches is not "the end of Christianity" - and neither is a few major films choosing to not once again trot out the same tired old story somehow "the end of Romance".

People are going to go on being "romantic". People are going to keep telling "romantic" stories. Heck, I imagine romance is going to continue to occupy an inordinately large portion of our collective consciousness - although I'm certain the various trappings and details of it will shift. And people are going to keep disagreeing about what actually -IS- "romantic". Romance is staggeringly far from dead.