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Our Rom-Com reality

With romantic comedy after romantic comedy showcasing casual sexual relationships, the line between the world of Hollywood and reality has begun to blur. In a generation with a decreasing attention span, filmmakers have to keep up. And so, this sort of instant gratification we all obsess over has crept its way into films — films that we then, in turn, very well might be basing our love lives on.

Two summers ago there was a slew of films that advocated this fast-paced romantic mind-set — Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached, to name a few. In each, casual relationships filled with rampant sexual encounters result in true love. Since then it seems that every screenwriter has sought to depict this type of relationship — just think about how Bridesmaids begins.

The emphasis on lust rather than loyalty — freedom over commitment and marriage — are values shared by many in our generation, and these movies are a microcosm of these values. My generation wants the experience — the freedom to do whatever one wants with one’s sexuality and the ability to test out a few partners before choosing “the one.” But is this generation’s seemingly independent and free-spirited nature driving this cause for sexual liberation or is it, instead, our fixation on reenacting the romantic comedies we see?

As much as I love the watching stars of No Strings Attached Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher rip each other’s clothes off in between rounds at the hospital, it may not be the healthiest type of encounter. I brought my thoughts about the relationship between these romantic comedies and our current hookup culture to two University professors who are knowledgeable in the field of sexuality. Brad Wilcox, a Sociology professor and the University’s director of the National Marriage Project, and John Portmann, associate professor in the Religious Studies department, discussed our generation’s conceptions of love and sex, especially as portrayed in romantic comedies.

Professor Wilcox described how this generation has “re-instutionalized courtship.” Wilcox suggests that to return to an age where It’s a Wonderful Life is the norm would be a struggle. With movies such as Playing for Keeps, where soccer moms play for the attention of one man, our generation has resorted to what Wilcox refers to as the “cafeteria approach.” Young people are constantly asking themselves “is there a better entrée down the line?”

At the end of the day, regardless of the generation, “love is still love” Portmann said. But, with more movies taking after Friends with Benefits and No Strings Attached, Portmann thinks love will be harder “to find today than it was back in the ’90s.”


Published March 6, 2013 in Arts and Entertainment, tableau

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