Hollywood comes face to face with romantic reality

By Ioana Zanchi

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Cupids, candy hearts and grand romantic gestures. Chocolates are bought by the truckload, roses plucked to the last and unnecessarily large teddy bears fly off the shelves. Hearts and expectations soar as the Hallmark holiday approaches. Millions scramble to fulfill these expectations that have been imposed upon us by people who have something to sell. A major proponent of these false beliefs is none other than the Silver Screen. There the oldest trope, the star-crossed lovers, lives strong in hearts, minds and bank accounts.

Hollywood is like this nauseating Instagram filter, cute but it only shows you an image through a rose-colored lens. The formulaic love story is that the guy you meet by chance at the coffee shop is your true love and in spite of distance, time and conflict, you end up kissing in the rain. Hollywood plays and peddles a superficial notion that the stars align to pave the way for a whirlwind romance where everything works out in the end. Flowers, grand gestures and diamond rings make great magazine covers because people are infatuated with a distant reality they cannot achieve themselves. In many ways it’s true, Hollywood’s idea of the perfect romance is close to unattainable. It is manicured and scripted to pull at heartstrings and sell some movies. It follows a structure that is designed to best invoke audience reaction. It is calculated and primped, clipped and edited to the last bit in order to convey one ideal, one version of love and one fleeting moment of happiness.

Real-life dating is an entirely different animal. The emotions that matter in this realm are those of the people involved in the relationship, not the population at large. To try to conduct a real-life relationship based on the limited ideals of the silver screen, is to doom it to failure. Real life is filled with ambiguity, and an indefinite range of emotions and situations, far too many to pigeonhole into a single category of reaction or 120 minutes of film. Relationships require a strong degree of commitment and dedication, and demand a lot of effort to stay on track. It is ugly and can be downright painful, but ultimately the growth that comes from the trials and tribulations is what makes a relationship worthwhile. Dating in real life is meant to create meaningful connections, learn about new people and to experience life with someone else. It is about beginnings with no determined finale. People do not fall in love in a day, and the time it takes for a couple to get to know each other does not exist in a controlled environment. In Hollywood, the idea of romance exists on a set timeline as a means to an end.

That’s not to say that love cannot exist in Hollywood, or that a film cannot accurately convey a strong relationship, but we must be careful how we view such a narrow representation of love and dating. Real life cannot hide behind dramatic lighting, scripted feelings and impeccable makeup. Real life entails trial and error, failure, effort and flexible expectations. Whereas Hollywood does not portray relationships as fluid, in real life people must adapt and learn to grow together, or else grow apart. Rarely do Hollywood movies touch on the idea of compromise, it just all magically works out in the end. Outside of a movie set, problems cannot be solved simply with grand gestures and fundamental issues cannot be swept under the rug.

The world of dating, in real life or in Hollywood, is confusing either way, but in the real world it has a much broader scope of experience that cannot be relegated to a single series of events and circumstances. Real life is not about finding your Prince or Princess Charming, it is about learning along the way and enjoying life’s moments together.

you can reach Ioana Zanchi at ioana.zanchi@spartans.ut.edu

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