Friday, 21 June 2013

Weddings and Hope

How many wedding themed films has Jennifer Aniston been in?

Wedding Themed Films

Just Go With It (2011)
The Switch (2010)
The Bounty Hunter (2010)
Love Happens (2009)
He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
Marley & Me (2008)
The Break-Up (2006)
Friends With Money (2006)
Rumor Has It (2005)
Along Came Polly (2004)
Bruce Almighty (2003)

If I missed some that's because I'm impressed with the list so far!

Seems like Jennifer Aniston takes on films that have some sort of marriage conundrum going on or else there's a happily ever after associated with the characters.

Why did I look these up?

Happily Ever After in romance novels usually incorporates a marriage ending. Complete with white picket fence and baby. These items can also be found in other sub-genres of romance but with a different take i.e. the main characters find their soul mates or embark on a multi-series in depth relationship rather than marriage. The end result is the same: the heroine and hero get together and are happy.

Does this mean that marriage is being promoted as the be-all-and-end-all answer to a happy life in romance books?

In my opnion: yes. Considering how popular some of Jennifer Aniston's films are I would argue that the public seeks hope.

I write romance and give my characters happy endings. I do not believe however, that this can translate into my own life. I draw a line between fiction and my own experience.

So, why do we read romance if the happy ending isn't realistic?

Heather Sharfeddin believes: "The popular version of the happy ending is destructive to our culture in several ways. Certainly it creates unrealistic expectations, and it does so very subtly."

I believe that we read to explore our own selves. We engage in characters who don't exist to fulfill our need for knowledge and self-fulfillment. I do not believe this is harmful to our culture. We are capable of dividing fact from fiction. I do believe, in fact, that we need more happy endings in a world for example, so terrorized by extremists that we are still at war. Other examples in our world are people experiencing natural disasters and famine or genocide. A world we do not write in romance. I believe we need hope and that writers provide hope. Romance writers allow us to believe that with love, anything is possible and really, a world without love is not a world I'm interested in.      

Photo by Rebecca Clarke

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  1. I agree, Tara. Happy endings might be rare in real life, but they do exist. There are couples who stick by each other through thick and thin, people who truly consider their spouse their best friend. There are people who do tremendous good in the world as well as people who do tremendous harm. I see romance novels as a way of reminding ourselves to see the good instead of giving all our energy to lamenting the bad.

  2. The real world is an unjust, random place and I think genre fiction gives us a sense of symmetry. Good people get rewarded with a HEA in romance, murderers are brought to justice in mysteries, etc. It's the world as we would like it to be.

  3. It's funny that people have a hard time simply admitting that they are hopeful and romantic at heart. However, the sheer volume of romances published as read by voracious consumers of HEA proves that in the privacy of their own minds, people want to go to a world where romantic love is valued and relationships take centre stage.

  4. a world without love is not a world I'm interested in.

    I couldn't agree more! Great blog, Tara. The popularity of the films you listed and of the romance genre in general suggests that a lot of people embrace that desire for hope and happy endings.

  5. Well said, Tara! I read romance (or watch romantic films) because I want a break from all the bad news I'm bombarded with every time I read a newspaper or turn on the news. And because I believe in love. Like you, a world without it is not one I'm interested in.

  6. Many people dabble in the varied worlds of popular fiction to move into a different world for just a little while.
    Some choose books and films about situations so miserable or frightening that they allow them to feel better off in the real world by contrast.
    Others go the direct route and look for happiness guaranteed. Nothing does that better than romance.
    Few lose sight of the notion that they are reading or watching fiction, and that real life is less tidy. Still, it paints a great "could-be" picture.