Toxic love in films must stop

Ajer Qureshi, Opinion Writer

We’re all familiar with the romantic cliches in our media. From having the perfect couple literally bump into each other in the first meeting to having the two would-be lovers hate each other before warming up to each other, there’s a long list of cliches found in all kinds of romance stories that we either love or hate.

But while these cliches may fit the fictitious romance stories you read or watch, these behaviors just wouldn’t fly in real life. As a society defined by the media we consume, it’s easy to overlook creepy or overall horrible behavior because often times, they’re played as romantic and accepting. And if a fictional character can find happiness in stalkery behavior, then perhaps that’s how it works in real life, right?

That can’t be any further from the truth. In a blog post by Doctor of Philosophy, Marcia Sirota MD, she lists six common bad relationship behaviors common in all types of romantic media. Such behaviors include predatory behaviors such as finding out where a person works and showing up there.

“In real life, this is predatory behavior — the hunter pursuing the prey — and a sign that the relationship may become abusive,” Dr. Sirota wrote.

A modern example of this I can think of occurs in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” arguably one of the worst love stories ever written. Early on in the story, the protagonist is getting drunk with a bunch of friends when she drunkenly calls her would -be “lover” Christian Grey.

Despite not telling him where she was, Grey eventually shows up at the bar she’s at just in time to stop someone from forcing a kiss on her. This would be considered heroic, except for the fact that Grey found her location by tracking her cellphone.

Let me reiterate that. Christian Grey finds out where the girl is by tracking her cell-phone without her permission! In a real-life scenario, that would fall under stalking and predatory behavior which he could arrested for.

But in the world of “Fifty Shades?” It’s a heroic gesture. Who cares if he violated the protagonist’s privacy by tracking her cell-phone? It somehow proves he cares, right?

It’s not just “Fifty Shades” that mixes bad behaviours with romantic gestures, even the most beloved love stories of all time are ripe with unsafe and nowadays dangerous gestures that wouldn’t fly in real life.
Take “Romeo and Juliet,’”considered one of the most famous love stories of all time. Most of us familiar with the famous balcony scene, where our two lovestruck heroes formally confess their feelings while also expressing fear of the future.

However, when you truly understand this scene, you’ll discover that Romeo is portraying some very stalkery behavior. After all, the scene is essentially a hidden Romeo eavesdropping on Juliet talking to herself, and when his cover’s blown, it’s played off as a romantic gesture.

The truth is, our media is plagued with behaviors and cliches that in a real world setting would prove dangerous and unwelcoming in any relationship. So what can we do about it? For now, the best we can do is educate others on these bad relationship practices, and learn not to look at cliches like these at face value.

Perhaps in the future, young filmmakers or authors will learn from these mistakes and craft new love stories with happier, healthier relationship behaviors that could be applied to the real world.

For those seeking a good educational recourse here at UW Oshkosh, we have a student group called Campus for Awareness and Relationship Education (C.A.R.E.). This organization focuses on educating students about preventing dating violence and other bad relationship behaviors. They meet every Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Women’s Center.