Why Romance Movies Have It All Wrong

Image by DiDi C on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/5pu9ut)

Image by DiDi C on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/5pu9ut)

I’ve been stuck in bed for the past couple of days with a stomach bug. It hasn’t been pleasant, but I have found time in the midst of my illness to watch an insane amount of movies. Yesterday, the movie count was 4.5. The majority of them were typical romances. “Rom-Coms” if you will. However, there was another movie I watched in the same genre of romance that stood out to me for some unanticipated reason. You’ll find out which movie I’m talking about later.

But first, can we all agree on something here? Girls go crazy over these romance movies. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. The love stories that always star some beautiful, young actor and actress. We find ourselves captivated by the the drama and suspense all circulating around the question of whether true love will win in the end. And of course, a majority of us don’t mind a few shirtless scenes (just being honest here).

But there’s something that bugs me about these movies. And it’s this: Girls everywhere, myself included, are rooting for these love stories that really aren’t all that great.

We all sigh as we watch Allie end up with Noah in The Notebook, but would we ever really want to take her place? To be with Ryan Gosling, maybe. But in all honesty, who wants to fall so madly in love at sixteen years old, be forcefully taken away from that person, fall in love with another great guy, CHEAT on that guy, and then end back up with the guy you knew way-back-when after breaking off an engagement? Then get Alzheimer’s.

THINK ABOUT IT. We don’t really want to be in Allie’s shoes. She spent years heartbroken and what she did to her poor fiancée was wrong.

You know what other movie bugs me? Grease. At the end of Grease, you see that Sandy completely changed everything about herself just to be with this cool biker dude. I liked innocent Sandy prior to her leather pants days, thank you very much.

Oh, but these girls did what they did for the sake of true love.

And this is where we get to the root of the issue with these stories, the common misconception out there that Hollywood feeds off of. Women everywhere believe this lie and covet it:

True love is doing everything it takes to get your happily-ever-after.

It sounds so poetic and beautiful in theory, but it’s dangerous and harmful in reality. Why? Because true love is not about changing yourself to be with someone. It’s not about giving up your morals or hurting people around you. And it’s definitely not about sex outside of marriage and just doing what “feels right”.

True love is about sacrifice and working hard, but only the sacrifice that comes about as a result of a God-fearing and God-loving life. True love does feel right, but not in that fleshly, impulsive way that leads so many people down wrong roads.

I don’t think God deems these Hollywood love stories as beautiful as we do. He desires for us to love, but not in this self-damaging, hurtful, usually immoral, I’ll-die-if-you-leave sort of way. Yet those are the love stories we pay money to see.

Now the movie that gave me some sort of revelation last night was The Vow.

What I like about The Vow is that it’s based on a true story. It was originally a book written by a married couple, Kim and Krickitt Carpenter, who I believe share a true love that echoes some of the qualities that honor God. 

One of those qualities was commitment despite hardship and challenges and pain. SPOILER ALERT: Kim (who is Kate in the movie) completely lost all memories of her husband after a terrible car accident. She didn’t remember a single thing about him, not even meeting him. Talk about tragic. And the sad part is that she NEVER regained her memory.

Yet her husband kept his commitment to stay by her side and she decided to remain married to him despite the fact she couldn’t remember loving him or even who he was. She had to relearn it all, step-by-step.

Kim said in an interview before the release of the movie last year, “It’s strange to think of our marriage being portrayed as a remarkable love story, when, for us, we just did what we said we would do – we kept our vows.” (Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2100527/The-Vow-Real-life-story-couple-Hollywood-movie.html)

I like that A LOT.

Her love story with her husband would’ve been over if she hadn’t made the choice to remain dedicated and committed. It required sacrifice, but not the kind of sacrifice where she had to change everything about herself and be someone she’s not. It required faithfulness, unlike the scenarios of sex affairs we see all too often. If you really think about it, it probably would’ve been easier for her to divorce her husband and eventually fall in love with someone else.

But true love is more than looking out for your best interests and giving in to what “feels right”.

Happily-ever-after doesn’t have to look like Allie and Noah’s. It shouldn’t. And I’m not saying happily-ever-after only looks like Kim and Krickitt’s.

Remember the lie I spoke of earlier? Well, here is the truth:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

I decided yesterday that if my “true love” story was to be told to the world, I would want it to be more like The Vow and less like a Nicholas Sparks book or any of those romance movies we see on Lifetime. Why? Because I don’t want to look back on my life and see a trail of people I hurt, morals I changed, physical boundaries I crossed, and personality traits I ditched just to get to my Prince Charming. I want to instead see a truly beautiful and godly story that speaks of patience and sacrifice and forgiveness. Instead of my love story “delighting” in evil, I want it to be innocent and freeing and lovely- the kind of love that God intended for us to have, the kind of love that He has for us.

I dare Hollywood to produce more love stories like that.

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