Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hollywood's "random attraction" plots annoy me

Pet Peeve #3,498: Movies in which the protagonist and his/her romantic interest "fall in love" for no apparent reason, with no attempt at character development.

Okay, here's the thing. I've seen so many shallow romantic comedies/dramas that seem to have main characters only because a movie without main characters is pretty stupid. There is no character development at all. And the male and female leads "fall in love" at the end of the movie simply as a plot element, with no basis in reason or even emotion. It just happens because that's what you expect to happen when you have a male and a female lead in a movie.

I want to watch a movie that shows a glimmer of understanding about how actual relationships work... how actual, flesh-and-blood people fall in love. Movies seem to base "love" on nothing more than a basic attraction and circumstance.

Love isn't a plot element, just something to be tossed around for the sake of a heart-warming story.

I've seen very few movies that have the characters fall in love because they are compatible, because they have a lot in common, or even because the complement each other. In fact, it's usually the opposite. So many Hollywood movies thrive on pitching "opposites attract" themes. People who "fall in love" against their better judgment, against their initial gut reaction to another person, against all odds. It makes for a great "love conquers all" story, but when I see a movie with this theme, it leaves a huge, gaping question in my mind.

What happens after the initial "attraction" fades?

It's no secret that opposites attract. But mere attraction isn't enough. A love that is going to last past the final credits has to be based on more... on reality... on compatibility and commonality... on commitment and a consistent choice to practice love.

Perhaps this is much too much of a rational approach to love for some people. It probably wouldn't make a very popular movie.

My fear, though, is that with the Hollywood idea of random attraction so prevalent, how will anyone learn to move beyond this shallow, vague notion of love?

Sure, there are aspects of love that are irrational, passionate, desperate and emotional... the butterflies in the stomach, the trembling fingers, the rapid breaths, the overwhelming sensations... all these things are important components of the romantic portion of love... but if these feelings aren't grounded in something solid, that love is a helium-filled balloon that will disappear into the clouds. It will end in heartbreak and devastation. You have to have a foundation, or the shifting sand of life will crumble the love you tried to build.

Perhaps it's impossible to make sense out of something so deeply rooted in the heart. But I choose to attempt rationality (or at the very least, level-headedness) in the arena of love. The mind and the heart must be trained to cooperate, to coincide, to co-habitate. To separate the two is to accept a false dichotomy.

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