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Author Topic: Do movies promote unrealistic relationships?
Lady Moonlight
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I've noticed lately that a lot of movies have romantic threads which go something like this:

1. Strangers meet.
2. Strangers fall in to bed and have great sex; they realize they're meant to spend eternity together.
3. Conflicts, drama, and misunderstandings ensue.
4. The girl is rescued or whatever, they kiss and make up, and the credits roll with the assumption that they're going to live happily ever after.

Of course, there's always a new love interest for the sequel, but that's another story.

Anyhow, I started wondering if seeing this over and over on screen had affected my own expectations for relationships, and if it affected society's in general. I mean, those movie couples never really have to negotiate their relationship: they never argue over the phone bill or whether he left the seat up again. The whole thing just seems effortless, and I don't know anybody in a lasting relationship who hasn't put a heck of a lot of work into making it last.

So what do y'all think? Do movies and other popular media affect our expectations when it comes to real relationships?

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And I've got no illusions about you.
Guess what? I never did.
When I said, when I said, "I'll take it."
I meant, I meant As Is.
--Ani DiFranco, "As Is"


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Heather
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Well, a movie based on that opening that reflected what happened most of the time would go like this:

1. Strangers meet.
2. Strangers fall in to bed and have great sex; they realize they're meant to spend eternity together.
3. Strangers wake up the next morning and wonder what the heck they were thinking the night before, find that a little sleep does a whole lot more for a realistic perspective than a pitcher of beers.
4. Strangers part and likely never see one another again, and when they do, feel more than a little silly. Strangers either laugh about it later, or spend months ducking behind their office cubicles to avoid one another.

Or, based on the conclusion of that tale, it might go a bit more like this:

1. Strangers meet.
2. Strangers are friends or aren't, run into each other a lot of times or see one another in other places, and over time, forge a slow relationship which changes a whole lot as time goes by.
3a. Strangers become friends.
3b. Strangers become lovers, and go through loads of ups and downs, renegotiations about their relationship, conflicts and a lot of pretty normal times that feel just great, but aren't very entertaining for anyone outside the relationship.
4. Strangers never are very certain about the hand of fate in anything, and so they take it as it goes and do what feels best for them and makes them happiest.

In other words, reality usually doesn't make for very good entertainment, and good entertainment rarely makes for a very comfortable or healthy reality. Hopefully, most of us can tell the two apart.

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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Cypher
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Unrealistic relationships? NO!

Infact Ben Affleck and Edward Norton are vying for my 18 year old affections as I type!

Ah.... I wish....


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Heather
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GASP!

Another Ed Norton crush-ee! Oh, I feel so vindicated.


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Mophead
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This is why watching most movies is not enjoyable for me. All I can think about is how ridiculous the whole thing is.

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My menstrual diary
Updated as often as my uterus


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Lin
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Ooh Edward Norton. Siiigh. My ultimate would have to be Joaquin Phoenix though. *drool*

I think alot of people depend on movies being unrealistic. I mean, few people would want to pay money to watch their life story acted out would they?

Movies, like books, provide an alternate world I escape into. Where like Cypher, I have Joaquin Phoenix and Brad Pitt vying for me.


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Gumdrop Girl
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mmm Matt Damon.

Movies only promote unrealistic relationships if you're watching the wrong kind of movies

I just saw High Fidelity not long ago and it was brilliant. John Cusack's character is normal and flawed. And he's an indie rock geek, which wins brownie points from me. Big two thumbs up and a tow, you have to see this! I even went out and bought The Beta Band '3EPs' after seeing it.

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This space reserved for the free exchange of thoughts and ideas.


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Lady Moonlight
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I liked High Fidelity a lot, because it did seem like the relationship was a lot more realistic.

I suppose I don't mind the escapism, it's just that sometimes I catch myself thinking, "Dammit, why don't my relationships work out so easily!?" And then it hits me...duh! I live in real life!

------------------
And I've got no illusions about you.
Guess what? I never did.
When I said, when I said, "I'll take it."
I meant, I meant As Is.
--Ani DiFranco, "As Is"


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Eclipse
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Hmmm.. OnTheOtherHand, I always found depictions of sex in the media VERY depressing. I love sex, but you could pretty much expect me to be sad-faced after almost any media intake involving an explicitly sexual relationship. If you see me after I've been reading/watching porn, I'll probably be balled up in a corner somewhere.

Probably more so when I was younger and less sexually secure though. It was a very real feeling... Couples constantly miscommunicating with each other, cheating on each other, having sex without talking about it first, etc. It all seemed so cheap and scary and impersonal. I think that once I started reading adult books (I suppose it was mostly written fiction, since I read more than anything, but also TV and movies), I became genuinely afraid of adult sexuality. Roughly ages 12 - 17. (17 being when I started having partnered sex. ) I felt very alone in wanting long-term monogamy and complete honesty and safer sex and commitment to any potential children that might result from intercourse. Not to mention equal partnership.

(Of course, moralistic prohibitions of sex were just as upsetting. I remember reading a book about sex for teens where it said that it was wrong for someone else to touch any part of your body that's covered by underwear (including a bra), because one thing leads to another and teens have no self control. I wish I remembered the title. I was in tears after reading that. I was furious.)

Ages 7-12 are when I had an idea of happy relationships from the media. Not explicitly sexual, fairy-tale happy relationships. Like in "The Ordinary Princess," which was one of my favorites, because they were good friends and they loved each other and they lived happily ever after.

I'd love to watch my life as entertainment. I'm fascinated by myself. My first love taught me to view my life in epic proportions, and I still do.

Sorry so disorganized.

[This message has been edited by Eclipse (edited 03-19-2001).]


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'rin
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firstly...have to agree with you on ed norton *sigh*
secondly...i liked the relationships in crouching tiger hidden dragon - mostly because neither ended well. like, they started beautifully all hearts and flowers and stuff......and then the rest of the universe got in the way. although it still wasnt' extrememly realistic, it seemed more realistic than the "normal" fairy tale boy gets girl ending.
'rin

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"-and i hope i'm not shooting my mouth off...again...and i pray i'm not tempting the fates....."
-james, off millionaires


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alaska
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aaaaaaaaaah, Ed Norton....
And Lin - We need to share Joaquin Phoenix then, I'm afraid. I drooled all night seeing him sitting at the Oscars last night. Woah. I think I need to watch "Quills". Wonder how he does as a priest (he was convincing as the seedy guy selling porn in 8mm and convinvong as the mean-o in Gladiator....but a priest? that shall be interesting).

In regard to "High Fidelity" (which was almost as good as the book): That movie seems to be the ultimate identification movie for the guys I'm surrounded with. I saw the film with three different guys (one of them being my partner) and they all over-identified with the guy. And not only because he sorts his records after his girlfriends (or whatever). Very strange.

Anyway - in general, I think that mainstream movies do promote an unrealistic view of relationships. In normal life, 90 minutes are never enough to figure out you'll live happily ever after.

And Heather, I really like the new plot you proposed....sell that to Universal.


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Lin
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Sorry hon, Joaquin Phoenix is mine. I don't share my men.

And I didn't get to watch the bloody Oscars. Dumb time difference.

Shall watch the repeat. But Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon won four oscars. Yippie!


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Heather
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Actually, it has been done a few times. "Our Freinds and Neighbors" is certainly not the happiest film ever made, but it deals with the relationships of six different people as they intermingle, and gets big-time realism points from me. It was also incredibly well acted. That above plots are both involved.

I agree that the relationships in "Crouching Tiger, HIdden Dragon" were very well done. Ang Lee (the director) actually has a real gift for that. Other films of his like "The Ice Storm," "The Wedding Banquet," and "Ride with the Devil" (though someone needed to realize in the casting process that Jewel is not an actress) do an equally good job.

And Alaska...see Quills. It was fantastic (Geoffrey Rush is always fantastic) and though I certainly never had any erotic ideas of priests before, Joaquin changed my mind.


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Cypher
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Hrmph!

I think I called first dibs on Edward Norton (besides, he kind of looks like my boyfriend)!

Fine, people can move in on Eddie, but if anyone touches my Peter(the above-mentioned BF), the fits going to hit the shan, so to speak!

Just kidding (well, sort of.... you get the idea).

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My crazy little universe....


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towel42
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Ok, I'm late on this thread, but a note I'd like to make.

This isn't a movie, but if anyone watched the series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", it is, ironically, devastatingly realistic when it comes to relationships. That's what makes the show so great, but also so frustrating. They use metaphors a lot. Like, when Buffy lost her virginity to Angel (she was 17 and he was 240 year old vampire) without thinking it through first, Angel lost his soul and turned on her. Although most guys don't exactly try to murder your friends and family, if a teen girl sleeps with a much older guy, he usually does use and abuse her. Sad but true...at least that's what I've seen in my short lifespan.

And if we're drooling over guys, I claim a few. James Marsters (Spike on Buffy)...and Henry David Thoreau. Don't ask about the latter one, just don't.

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...an angel who didn't so much fall as saunter vaguely downward...


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Heather
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No way, Cypher. The Boston Phoenix, early last year. I even included my crush in a public INTERVIEW. So move OVER honey!

You feel you have to explain Thoreau, Towel? Oh, hardly. That's a highly worthy crush.

(Btw, I'm a native Chicagoan...good too see more Chicagoans around!)

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Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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alaska
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quote:
“if a teen girl sleeps with a much older guy, he usually does use and abuse her. Sad but true...at least that's what I've seen in my short lifespan.”

towel, hope it’s okay if I add give some perspective to this: I’ve personally seen about as much “use and abuse” in relationships where both people were roughly the same age as I have in those where the age difference was a little larger.
I don’t think age difference alone is the biggest factor in “use and absuse”; personality is. And an even bigger factor is the actual relationship and whether any decent negotiations have happened. IMO, any relationship where the partners aren’t equal opens the door for one partner “abusing” the other, and there are lots of reasons apart from an age difference why partners aren’t equal in a relationship. I’m personally quite fond of the relationships that I had with slightly older partners (even though none was of course quite as old as Angel).

(I am an avid Buffy fan, btw, too )

Oh, and Heather, I agree with you in regards to the Ang Lee movies, “The Wedding Banquet” was excellent, and I’ve only heard good things about The Ice Storm, too, even though I still haven’t managed to see that yet, I really liked the book (by Rick Moody) though.


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towel42
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Alaska,

I agree with you that age isn't the only factor in use-and-abuse relationships. I was just saying...if a girl that is still a minor sleeps with a guy that's significantly older than her without being *really* careful, it almost always ends badly. Since you're a Buffy fan, I'm pretty sure you can see the point I was trying to make.

And Scarlet, thanks for understanding my Thoreau-love. Heh-heh...most people think that's kind of creepy. (And three cheers for Chicago!)

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...an angel who didn't so much fall as saunter vaguely downward...


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alaska
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towel, no worries, please, no worries, I think I got your point. I just wanted to add my two cents, really.

In addition to what you've mentioned, I think one simply shall not underestimate the legal issues that can (and do) arise out of an adult/minor relationship.


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entropie
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Bit late on adding my 2c to this thread.. but I was having a think last night.

How much of todays STD/STI problems and unplanned teen pregnancies are related to this :idealistic: portrayl of movie-sex? What I mean by this, is that quite often, and probably about 99.9% of the time, the two romantically involved characters fall into bed, with no fumbling around (!?!) and using no ((obvious)) protection.

Could this possibly be a large reason why so many teens are going out there to experiment, and not using condoms? We look up to people on the big screen as kind of role models as to what we should and shouldn't do, and if they affect teens enough to create low self esteem and image related problems, is it too far fetched that teens are also absorbing these sex scenes as "reality"?

They rarely show the consequences of unprotected sex in movies (except for possibly pregnancy, and that always seems to end happily-ever-after).. so it may seem OK to impressionable enough youth to follow their lead and end up putting themselves at risk of STDs/STIs/unplanned pregnancy and all the yukkies that might come with those things.

Just a few hurridley typed ideas and thoughts.

Opinions? Comments?

entropie


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Lin
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Oh Buffy kicks butt. I am suffering major Buffy withdrawal symptoms. Could we set up a support group?
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Celtic Daisy
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So many movie relationships are so dumb! There are some good ones out there, i mean, i can be a sucker for a good romance, but i hate those freddie prinze types, and all those stupid ones. It has to be somewhat realistic, or it has to be the kinda movie where it's supposed to be fake, or fantasy!
*smiles*

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-Miss Bif Naked


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Lady Moonlight
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Okay, so it's from a little older perspective, but a movie I loved for its (I thought) "realistic" relationship was One Fine Day.
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Cypher
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I'm a sucker for a good romance. Hell, one of my favorite stories is that of Romeo and Juliet. But part of the reason I absolutely love that story (aside from the fact that I'm also a sucker for Shakespeare) is that it's completely tragic love. There is no happy ending. Actually, their ending is quite morbid (I don't know if that says good things about me).

Teen romance movies really get on my nerves. I can only stomach so much of Freddie Prinze Jr and Sarah Michelle Gellar before I end up wanting to barf.

I hate this school jock meets artsy girl and she inspires him and he gets caught between being interested in her and his friends' peer pressure, but ends up telling his friends off so that he can take little Miss artsy-fartsy to the prom. It seems like all the storylines are basically the same. As for Freddie-kins, has he ever even played a role that wasn't completely the same as the one before? It seems like that guy can only play himself. Sorry for my rant against teenage bop schlop.

I didn't mean to offend the Freddie-kins fans of the world!

------------------
Smile, though your heart is breaking....

My crazy little universe....

"Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there....
With open arms and open eyes...."

-Incubus


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Mophead
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Cypher, I liked Romeo and Juliet too, because the reactions of the minor characters were correct. It just seemed right at the end, you know?

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masterbating is what the MASTERS do.


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LilBlueSmurf
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I rarely see anything realistic. Or even close to it.

So i don't base my relationships on what i see on TV. I don't even base it on real life, b/c i don't agree (a lot of the time) on what other people believe a relationship should be.

And then seeing people have sex on TV ... GEEZ ... I wasn't scared or anything, just curious. Now, thinking back, I feel like i'm not good enough. And the women always orgasm, and i rarely do. Hows that for reality!?! Pfft ...


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Cypher
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Sometimes I feel like my own life has fallen out of some bad Dawson's Creek episode. Ew.... It's no good. But, seriously, I have the kind of relationship that the FOX network executive directors DREAM OF (in a non-Melrose Place kind of way). It's so annoying....

------------------
Smile, though your heart is breaking....

My crazy little universe....

"Whatever tomorrow brings I'll be there....
With open arms and open eyes...."

-Incubus


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