Romance, there’s no shortage of it in television and film with such shows as The Bachelor and movies like The Twilight Saga where love becomes competitive. It’s the idea that love can conquer all and a hope that we may find that perfect love story in our everyday lives. Whether you’re a man or woman, teen or adult, we all know at least one great love story. Long before The Bachelor or The Twilight Saga, romance has been the core of rich storytelling and creative expression. From William Shakespeare’s quill to the heartwarming words of poet Pablo Neruda, there has never been a shortage of romantic ideals in our culture. It’s with those words in mind, that I turn to our modern culture, where it seems that unless your name is Ben Flajnik, Brad Womack, Edward Cullen or Jacob Black, real romance may very well be dead.
How so, you may ask? After watching a recent episode of The Bachelor, with previously rejected winemaker Ben Flajnik as the lead romantic, it made me wonder just how much our perception of romance has changed through entertainment. The Bachelor, in which single women compete for the perfect fairy tale relationship, plays to our hopeful romantic notions of what it means to be with someone forever.
No matter how absurd the concept of The Bachelor is when you really think about it, we, as viewers, root for our favorite contestants to win their perfect fairy tale. We share in both their happiness and heartbreak as we experience the journey with them. It’s a type of self-fulfillment, I suppose, but hardly an accurate reflection of reality.
So, what type of impact is the false romantic reality of The Bachelor having throughout society? Are we normalizing false hope? Is The Bachelor really just a cheater’s paradise? And why are viewers so attracted to the idea that’s it’s okay for ten other gals to get with your potential man first? It’s crazy!
Interestingly, a similar theme runs through The Twilight Saga movies. Yes, they are two very different things, one’s fiction and one’s alleged reality. But if people believe in true love, why are we so drawn to stories that highlight false hope as prerequisites to a perfect romance?
In The Twilight Saga, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) loves Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). She’s so in love with him that she’d die just to see him, if only as a passing glance. But she also has Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), her dependable best friend who she has feelings for, too. That’s how the whole Team Edward vs Team Jacob feud was born. But Bella is so emotionally dependent on Jacob that she knowingly strings him along. Jacob goes along with it in the desperate hope that she may one day change her mind and choose him.
It’s in this dependency that I see the connection between The Bachelor and the Twilight Saga. Both aim for true love, but they drag you through a whole mess of emotional crap before you can even think of a fairy tale ending. Why are we normalizing false hope and saying it’s okay?
If this was your life, would you be willing to settle for that? I suppose if you were Bella or The Bachelor, options make the question easier to answer, in theory at least. But none of it feels natural.
Sure there’s voyeuristic entertainment value, but that doesn’t make it okay for everyone. Is real romance dead? If you’re taking your cues from reality television or fantasy, let’s just say it’s not real. And like so many dysfunctional relationships in society, if love doesn’t evolve organically or in some natural way, it can be a recipe for disaster and heartbreak. Does love conquer all? I don’t know. Does it really come down to getting a rose?