So, a few posts back, I promised “something romantic.” The thing is, I don’t normally indulge in romantic entertainment.
It’s not surprising, really. I typically avoid it as best as I can, mainly because of my experiences with romantic stories. They’re all the same. Guy falls for girl, girl falls for guy, other guy gets in the way, other guy gets taken care of, guy and girl get married. (For perspective, that was a summary of one of my few favorite romances, Much Ado About Nothing.)
So, what do I not really like about romance? Well, the fact that I cited William Shakespeare’s play as one of the best romances, my issue is more against modern romances. Pride & Prejudice? Yes please. Twelfth Night? Not quite my style, but still pretty good.
The Notebook? Not my cup of tea.
Titanic? Doesn’t exactly float my boat.
You see, it dawned on me a while back that as our views on marriage changed over the past several decades, as did our romances. Romantic stories went from Pride & Prejudice’s “This is the tale of a man looking for a wife, someone to love for the rest of his life” to, say, The Notebook’s “This is the quest of a man trying to get into a woman’s pants as often as he can. He eventually marries her, because why not?”
Now, I’m not saying that all romantic movies in the past twenty years don’t end with marriage, and that is their downfall. Twilight ends in marriage, and it still sucks. And one of my favorite “romance” movies of the past twenty years, Safe Haven, doesn’t end in marriage either. So, it’s not a perfect rule.
I guess what I’m getting at is that romantic themes in fiction shouldn’t be about the story; they should be about the characters and how they interact. Which is why I prefer to see romance as a sub-plot rather than a main attraction.
I hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day!