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What teen romance movies teach us about love

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What teen romance movies teach us about love

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Myka Fromm, Opinions Writer

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Let’s face it. Teen romance movies are not exactly profound films. But somehow they all manage to capture our hearts, to let us dream, to make us feel warm inside. It is certainly lovely to wander in those fantasies, but we must meanwhile stay rooted in reality and not overestimate the power of love.

If you have watched as many teen romance movies as I have, you have probably noticed a standard set-up. You follow the life of a girl in high school.  She is attractive but not gorgeous, and woefully clumsy. We relate to her through her imperfections. She has a source of cooped-up pain and longing from her childhood, which gets unraveled throughout the movie and exposes her vulnerability.

That’s when the boy comes in. And of course, he is nothing but biceps and flowing hair.  He rides motorcycles and gets into fights, but when he meets this girl, he softens. The girl falls for his deep blue eyes, and nothing can bring them apart. Until there’s a problem. And when their relationship seems ruined, when the girl is close to heartbreak, the boy comes back. They make up in an instant and as they embrace, the unleashed storybook passion bursts out of the TV screen.

We all know the plot of these movies well, but lately, the genre has been making changes and diversifying its traditional set-up. Love, Simon and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before each put their contemporary spin on a genre that desperately needs modernizing—featuring gay and biracial leads, respectively. That said, these are two of the more progressive examples, and overall the genre has a long way to go before catching up to our modern era.

This industry would not be able to survive without updates. The goal of these movies is to let their audiences dream of finding that true love, but if the only characters in the movie are white, straight and unrealistically perfect, their diverse audiences cannot connect. Unfortunately, many of these movies still feature those seemingly perfect people as their leads.

So what’s the magic behind this template of heartache and desire? It’s simple: fantasy.  These movies put the impossible idea of perfect love into the audience’s heads. And guess who that audience is: teenage girls who are the most vulnerable to those kinds of fantasies. We see a girl like us find the handsome, charming man of her dreams. We see the Disney princess find her valiant prince. We then strive to find that man in our own lives, but he doesn’t exist.

And that is okay. Because love is not determined by how sharp someone’s jawline is. Everyone defines their own love, and that may sound as cliché as the movies themselves, but it is true. Remember that during this Valentine’s Day season. The love you are looking for may not be what you dream of. You may not find that charismatic jock with the perfect hair, but when you find true love, it is better than any of those dreams. Because it is real.

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What teen romance movies teach us about love