Alternative Title: Obviously, if your sexual orientations align then you’re inclined.
[Another one for the Narrative Collection.]
This is a little follow-up to my recent post about relationships. I thought it might be fun to do a post looking at the media we consume and romance. So, if you read books, play video games, watch TV or movies, or just keep up with celebrity gossip, then this should be relatable.
It doesn’t have to be a romance movie for the romance to show up
I’ve mentioned a few times in these posts that media also plays a role in how social scripts operate. Well, simply put real-life and fictional worlds tend to feed off each other.
What I mean by that is that creators take advantage of social scripts/expectations in the real world to then ignite certain ideas and emotions in their audience. But also, those creators are limited in what works for their targeted audience, because not every concept and belief is common or accepted by all demographics. On the flip side, in the real world, we sometimes can’t help but suspect certain things to be true based on what we see in the media.
For example, just look at the concept of romantic interest. Basically, this is someone who you would like to pursue a romantic relationship with.
Now, romance is a feature that appears often in media. Really often. Regardless of the genre. And chances are, if the story does a build-up, and is even marginally mediocre and sensible, then you know who the romantic interest(s) is/are before anything romantic or sexual takes place. Because we know the social scripts and tropes and how they’re usually executed.
So, what’s the point?
Remember, life imitates art and art imitates life. If the guy constantly gets the girl in the story then what happens? Well, off the top of my head we see these perspectives in real life:
- If you try enough, then you “win” the girl. Or at least, you deserve to.
- It must be destiny that you two get together because you keep meeting.
- She must be interested. Why else would she spend so much time with you?
- Girls and guys can’t just be friends. The romantic and sexual chemistry is just too likely.
[Btw, yes. Feel free to swap the genders around in those scenarios. And yes, life is more complicated than that and so many factors can be at play. But, that doesn’t negate the effect media can have on how we see the real world. There’s definitely plenty of people in the world, whether it be children or adults, who have a perspective like the ones mentioned above.]
Not every “hint” is a hint
While we often expect romantic and/or sexual subplots in the media we consume, we also often expect them in our everyday lives. Whether it be the girl who plays with her hair a lot when you’re around, the guy that’s nice enough to help you carry your bags to your car, or the physically affectionate friend, there exists a tendency to assume that there’s something more. Because in stories, there usually is.
Yet, while most people abide by romantic and/or sexual social scripts, it doesn’t mean everyone does, and definitely not all the time. Sometimes playing with your hair is just a habit. Sometimes helping someone with their bags is just being nice. And sometimes being physically affectionate can just mean “we’re cool” or “just wanted a hug.”
That’s the thing about life and social scripts. The “rules” don’t always apply. There’s bound to be situations where the “hint” really isn’t a hint.
[If only we could enjoy more stories that didn’t bother with those kinds of hints in the first place. Then we could maybe have fewer romance plots. Or at least less boring ones that you figure out in the first few minutes of the characters’ meeting.]