Yay or Nay: Fiction has diluted what a relationship looks like

It’s that time of the month again! This month’s edition of Yay or Nay will be covering an arousing topic on relationships. Have you ever swooned over an OTP (one true pairing), wishing that you had their lives? Remember the scenes when any main male or female lead looked at their partner’s eyes, filled with love and grew old together? These fairytale-like scenes have etched their way into our minds and have inspired Echo’s very own bachelorettes to debate on whether fairytales have diluted modern-day relationships. 

[Disclaimer, this article was written by 3 single ladies and Echo Media will not be held responsible for inspiring other people to stay single]

Yay

Hear me out, although I have minimal dating experience, I believe I am credible enough to have a say on this considering that I have consumed a wide range of romantic media may it be on screen or through words. To prove it, I even made a meme on this, enjoy!

Back to the topic, I would like to shift your focus onto Disney- the international mass media,  home to all things made of wishes and happy endings. Growing up, it’s undeniable that Disney has influenced the minds of many people today, especially in terms of relationships. For starters, princess movies such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, The Little Mermaid, have drilled unrealistic expectations into young girls’ minds. These movies are filled with cliches such as true love’s kiss or love at first sight portraying love as some magical feeling. Not only have these movies captivated our thoughts on relationships, but they also captured our hearts whereby we now can’t help but want to be hopeless romantics. Don’t believe me? Let me remind you of this iconic song sung by Meg from Hercules. 

Who says you can’t hear pictures? These lyrics from “I won’t say I’m in love” have gotten girls swooning over the idea of having a man who has fallen head-over-heels in love with them. How can you blame them? With such mesmerizing illustrations and catchy music, it’s a no-brainer that our view of love has been inflated, and inflated badly. 

Ok, one might argue, what about men? At least they have realistic expectations of women. I beg to differ. Remember the carpet ride Aladdin gave Princess Jasmine? Who doesn’t dream to live a life like Aladdin, a thief who glowed up to become a freaking prince, ready to rule with his loving wife, Jasmine? What’s worse is that in 2019, Disney made a remake of Aladdin with live casting. Now, we’ve been brainwashed twice! Come on, you gotta admit, the carpet ride in the live-action movie was lit and I would die to have Naomi Scott as my wife. 

Clearly, growing up watching Disney has affected our views on love and it has gotten so strong to a point that even a song was made about this – Mad at Disney by Salem Ilese.

I’m mad at Disney, Disney

They tricked me, tricked me

Had me wishing on a shooting star

But now I’m twenty-something

I still know nothing

About who I am or what I’m not

So call me a pessimist

But I don’t believe in it

Finding a true love’s kiss is bullshit

‘Cause I felt sad love

I felt bad love

Sometimes happy love (happy love)

Turns into giving up (giving up)

I felt hurt love

By the word love

What the hell is love supposed to feel like?

What the hell is love? What the hell is love?

What the hell is love supposed to feel like?

Look at this damsel in distress, a damsel no man can save. From the lyrics, it’s obvious that the persona in the song has gone through a reality check on love and boy did that go well. Due to all of these unrealistic expectations, she was blinded, getting herself hurt emotionally and mentally with the end result being her giving up on love itself. 

By solely fantasizing the ideality of a perfect match, one loses all sense of reality and could potentially fall out of love instead. It is because of this that I believe people now are afraid of starting a relationship and are questioning the definition of love. However, not all is lost. In my opinion, relationships should be a compromise of the expectations and reality between two people. As they enter into this sacred and special bond, they are responsible for loving one another and treating each other with respect out of love. 

The world would be a better place with more love, if you want to love someone, do it right! Just as how a wise man said, “How do you lose a woman? You forget to cherish her” and this applies to all relationships.

Source: Wise Words

Maki, brought up with high expectations of love

What would all of our lives be if it was not for romantic movies? From romantic comedies such as The Kissing Booth that makes us all burst into laughter to romantic dramas like Me Before You that makes us cry our eyes out? Whether we would like to accept it or not, these movies and television series have played a key role in shaping our ideas of an ideal relationship. It is close to impossible to try to picture yourself in a world where such fairytales do not exist- for a life where fairytales do not exist would most probably be mundane, to say the least.  Subconsciously, we all have an idea of how we want our potential relationships to look like, be it from the list of criteria that a future partner has to check; or even a bucket list of activities one would do as a couple. These expectations have simply arisen due to the fairytale relationships on television that we have all grown up with. 

However, we should also acknowledge the fact that while the on screen couples such as Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy or Allie and Noah from The Notebook might have provided us with a rough idea about what being in a relationship is like, such programmes have constantly failed to show viewers the full story and have set unrealistic expectations of relationships for viewers. While it might have successfully shown us all how wonderful being in a relationship might be, a relationship is never always just filled with love and joy. There are bound to be fights and heated arguments that at times cannot be resolved with just a simple apology or a bouquet of flowers. For example, in the case of New Moon: after leaving Bella with the simple reason that he was protecting her and causing her to fall into a severe depression, Edward simply apologized and they moved on from it. In reality, mending the broken glass in a relationship is never ever that simple as it requires time. Yet, such fairytales have made us believe that it is possible. 

Truth be told, being in a relationship entails so much more than what we have all seen from fictional stories- but who doesn’t want a Mr Darcy in their life after all? Having said that, what exactly is a relationship? While it is hard to pin an exact definition for the term relationship, Charles Lindholm, an anthropologist defines it as “ the intense attraction that involves the idealization of the other, within an erotic context, with the expectation of enduring sometime into the future.” In simple terms, a relationship is not just made up of love at first sight, dreams coming through or being saved from a hard life by a handsome Prince. Furthermore, being in a relationship is also not as effortless as what movies or tv shows make it seem. Requiring common interests, mutual respect, trust, and forgiveness, it is safe to say that the recipe for a “perfect” relationship is fairly demanding. Wanting to paint the perfect picture of a relationship, the lack of portrayal towards more negative aspects of a relationship in the media has simply given us the wrong idea of what a relationship is all about. 

There is a list of factors to consider before ever getting into a relationship. Some examples include time and commitment.  Fate or destiny should not be the sole reason one chooses to be with somebody else. As Queen B would put it, Destiny is for losers. It’s just a stupid excuse to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen. Being in a relationship or even choosing to start one is never that easy but if you ever like or even love somebody, never be afraid to tell them. Let them know, if it is mutual, who knows what would happen right?  Always bear in mind that choosing to be in a relationship is so much more than one’s wildest imaginations and love does not always conquer all. 

-Sumitra, a firm believer that love is not the centre of the universe. 

NAY

The statement that fiction dilutes a relationship can be true to a certain extent, but it can be said that it is an overly general statement for such a broad context. Fiction: something that is invented or untrue. Fiction is at its basis, stories or retellings that people made up and are often simply exaggerated versions of what we already know. Therefore, it is easy to assume that it only encompasses the good and overly romantic side of a relationship. However, in reality, even if it is just a pinch, it always seems to slip into these stories- evermore so as we progress into a world that begs and fights for appropriate representation of real-life in media. Take the recent hit of the TV show Euphoria for example. It depicts characters struggling with relationships the same way most people today do, as awkward teens struggling to find themselves while learning to love. Therefore, my stance is that fiction does not dilute what a relationship looks like, at least not completely.

In a more negative light, today we see a lot of books, movies and TV shows depicting the darker sides of a relationship, more specifically- toxic ones. Sure, Grey’s Anatomy set some high standards with the Merder’s candle lit house in the mountain scene and all the swoon-worthy monologues delivered by McDreamy; but there were also some very realistic struggles that were shown. For instance, fights over not being able to compromise for the other person in the relationship, or the lack of communication which can be deadly to a healthy relationship. How many times have you seen yourself screaming at the TV “Just talk to the other person!” ? Shows like these not only depict very real, very possible scenarios, but also act as a reminder to check ourselves for these toxic traits. They also teach us when to walk away, which is something that is believed to be extremely important, more so when domestic violence and abuse is thrown into the equation.

Widening the context of a relationship, friendships and familial ties are also shown in the media. All the good and all the bad but, it is undeniably exaggerated to a certain extent. However, at its core, most stories remain true. Writers more often than not have either witnessed or experienced these situations before they are written to become stories. Scott McCall and Stiles Stilinski had their fair share of fights but they still ended up best friends. Fiction teaches us to have hope because the protagonist usually always ends up with a happy ending. Even if it over exaggerates the romantic side of a relationship, what is wrong with that? Maybe every once in a while we should be allowed to live our lives in a dreamlike state.

It is also not completely naive to assume that people are able to regulate their own standards of what a relationship is, or should be. The juxtaposition between dreamy TV relationships and the ones that are less desirable should be able to allow viewers and consumers of fiction to set their own standards. To understand what not to tolerate and to learn from the stories. Fiction all begins with a written story whether it’s a book or a screenplay. Someone must have had to write them. With a society that is progressively fighting for proper representation in every possible meaning, it is not too far of a stretch to say that more and more accurate representations of relationships are being displayed. With that, it’s not only viable to conclude that fiction does not technically dilute what a relationship looks like but it’s also safe to theorize that we need such tales to teach society to love. Children grow up listening to fairy tales, adults teach them to believe in magic and wonder for as long as they can. How else can we teach people to be a little optimistic? How do you teach children who come from broken homes that not all love is like that? 

With that, I end my argument that fiction is required and does not completely dilute what a relationship should look like but rather, helps us set appropriate standards of what to hope for.

– Diya, usually an optimist with the occasional pessimistic streak

By: Diya, Maki, Sumitra

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