The Media: Culprit for Shoving Romantic Expectations into the Realm of Unobtainable?

Books, movies, the internet and more.  We can’t deny the hype over damn good-looking vamps who’d make decent lovers if they weren’t so determined to bleed us out from our jugular.  Or that Asian drama hunks manage to keep their masculinity intact with some very beautiful crying scenes (in fact, we want them more!).  Those slow-mo, nose-to-nose-but-not-quite-kissing, longing stares, possessive grabs and let-me-swoon moments – do they even exist?  And do they make us establish ridiculous expectations for lovers?  Maybe.  To both questions.

Do these amazingly passionate moments exist?  I would attest that they do because why else would we be able to put such a convincing show of them time and time again – both onscreen and off?  I remember my first love seeing as I developed an embarrassing sweating syndrome because of him.  Every corner at my high school was a roosting headquarter for moments of harmless spying and remedial hyperventilating.  Eye contact and unintentional brushing of the arms (so what if I planted myself strategically in his path?) became locked into memory for play-by-play dissection afterwards.  These “moments” might be far more real for those of us with a “healthy” imagination but sentiments like “my heart skipped a beat” and “I only had eyes for him/her” are experienced by most of us.

It just so happens that onscreen, damn, they make it look goooood.  The right camera angle, slowing time to an anticipatory crawl, a close-up of eyes, hands and lips, the relentless buildup and, yes…what we’ve been waiting for.  I’m side tracking from the point here but, yes, those “moments” are real.  All too often they are at their most potent during the beginning of a relationship for which the media is absolutely expert at exploiting.  People don’t want to watch the interactions of long-time couples – they want the dramatic first meeting, the punch-to-the-gut, the raw chemistry.

But does the reproduction of these moments by the media dramatize them to the point of planting unrealistic expectations upon its viewers?  Not every poor, mediocre-looking girl ends up with a hunky bad boy who’s not only an expert kisser but is currently in line to inherit the family fortune.  Not every boyfriend will chase after you when you run from the room crying.  Not every relationship will resolve family scars and personality quirks caused by some childhood trauma.  Love doesn’t always conquer all, especially in the face of freak accidents, terminal illnesses and sibling rivalry.  And if we recall, onscreen love stories end with that lucky last rose, kiss or declaration.  Real-life love stories keep chugging along because, duh, life and love hardly stop when we’ve won the prize.

I’m afraid my Asian drama, chick-flick and romance novel consumption has somehow scrambled my thoughts to the point where I want slow-mo kisses and a guy man enough to cry in front of me.  When I expect him to deliver a smoldering look, instead, I am met with a punch of disappointment when he leers at me with that do-I-have-s!@#-on-my-face look. When I want piano notes and lullabies, I’m getting clanging cymbals and screeching.  Many of my friends are convinced that “it’s what you make of it.”  Most of them have no desire to reproduce moments from what they see and read even if it is very dreamy and romantic.  I, on the other hand, with popcorn and Milk Duds in hand, will laugh and cry along thinking, “When will my moment come?”  I know I’m not alone.  Does this show the unobtainable expectations we develop as a result of what we consume from the media?  I ponder this question a little harder and it seems the most honest, realistic answer is “not necessarily.”  People continue to be together for all the wrong reasons, break up for even dumber ones and make up despite them.  There’s no controlling our hearts, at times, even if we aren’t getting the smoldering looks and piano melodies.  We still find ourselves completely enraptured and captivated by another imperfect human being, many times, for reasons that are beyond us!

One thing’s for sure: romantic love is no joke!  It’s countless reproduction in the media show not only how profitable it is but in the same line, how much we crave it.  I think we crave it because we believe in it.  We want it for ourselves as flawed and altered-from-the-onscreen, in-text version as it may be.  I’m always giddily happy after reading, watching a love story unfold.  Not so much because I’ve replaced the heroine with myself (ha!) but because I am further convinced – love exists!  And I know someone, somewhere out there is crazy in love, making love, declaring their love…and that’s enough to make my day.

So, I say, “Go media!  Give me more!  Thank you for bringing our most lovely moments to life!  Thank you for planting such sweet dreams in my scattered brain!”  As for how we react, respond and live out those moments, I hope we can draw the line between reality and fantasy, between the obtainable and unobtainable.  Because in the end, media, even if you dramatize those special moments by epic proportions, you affirm what we already know: love is real, love awaits and it’s soooo within our reach.

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