Romance can be a lovely thing, but the way fiction portrays it sometimes you would think that men ride around on white horses and women spend their time tripping on anything and everything, waiting for prince charming. Because of this, I decided to make a quick list of some of my top pet peeves about the romance genre.
- Make either of the couple sparkle with god-like perfection.“Nobody is perfect.” How many times is that phrase said each day? Yet how many times is the love interest in a story almost completely immaculate? Love interests seem to have descended from the heavens and, like the mythical gods of ancient Greece and Rome, they glow with unearthly beauty that could cause a mortal to combust upon viewing. Even monsters are literally sparkling like disco balls nowadays (I’m looking at you, Twilight)! There are first impressions and there is new love which may add a little shine to the individual viewed through its lens, but there must be a real person with realistic flaws underneath. (F.Y.I. “I’m a sexy vampire and I might kill you” is not a realistic flaw.)
- Make the love interest a jerk with a “good heart.” If you don’t think about it too much, the jerk with a good heart theme seems like a nice one (although certainly overused). Here’s a person-usually a guy-who is misunderstood, but by getting to know him, the girl realizes that he’s actually a good guy. Getting around first impressions can be a great and rewarding obstacle for readers/viewers to see a characters get through, but this one can be problematic. If it is truly a misunderstanding or the behavior is not brushed off as normal, that is one thing, but often the jerk with a good heart acts like just a plain old jerk to the heroine and the mean behavior is excused. Although it was one of the more extreme examples I saw of this scenario, I discussed some of the issues with jerk-love interests more thoroughly in my last post, Black Bird: Sexy Teen Romance or Creepily Sadistic.
- Make either of the characters completely reliant on the other. Aha! The old “You complete me” syndrome that often results in “I can’t live without you!” delusions and damsel-in-distress disease. Loving someone immensely is one thing-in fact, it’s a wonderful thing-but being so dependent on that person to the point where one feels he/she isn’t a whole person without the other is not healthy. (That’s some life advice.) So, the fact that fiction shows this situation as normal or romantic is feeding this unhealthy idea as good. The Twilight series is a perfect example of this. I know! I’ve already used Twilight as an example for something in this post, but it shows this scenario in such an extreme I just can’t pass using it again. In the second book of the series, Edward decides that he’s no good for Bella so, he dumps her and runs off. Bella literally curls up into a fetal position and cries, going into zombie mode for months because her own life doesn’t matter now that Edward is gone. While I trudged through the book (yes, I did read the series), I wanted to say, “Um, excuse me for interrupting you, Bella during this very important time, but didn’t you have a life pre-Edward?” Bella’s response to my question was to become dependent on another guy (Jacob) and do reckless, potentially suicidal stuff. Hmm. Not what I had in mind. This isn’t to say that people aren’t allowed to grieve for lost relationships, but that letting life totally spiral out of control or giving up on life is not the way to do it so, fiction shouldn’t present it like it is.