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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Emotional narrative

I've had this post on draft for a few weeks and spoken about this topic on several occasions when tipsy in hostelries up and down the land. And then some scientists from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh go and prove my point for me. (ok it's not really my point, but I would have looked a wee bit prescient writing about it and basked in the smugness)

Anyway the study they were publishing claims that romantic comedies create unrealistic expectations in relationships and contribute to their failure.

On a wider level, films and other media influence our emotional lives. And arguably more than we realise. All stories do as we like our lives to have structure and the narrative of stories does that for us. We can identify with characters, respond to their situations and then relate it to our own lives.

The report cites the notion of a belief in destiny and fate as creating unnecessary pressures on relationships in trying to make them 'perfect'.

One of the points I always used to raise was the notion of 'closure' at the ending of a relationship, as in "I need closure on this."

What rot! Life goes on somewhat relentlessly and does not always provide closure. People are not two dimensional fictional characters and despite artistic and poetic truths existing in literature, our lives are not like some Dickensian plot neatly tied together at the end.

Our emotions are held to ransom by false narratives and we create much unhappiness in these dishonesties.

(for the record i have been known to enjoy the odd rom com and witnesses have noticed a lump in my throat at the end of even the most saccharine guff)


Linda S. Socha said...


Some real truth here I expect....a bit like the white picket fence in kind
Nice post

Faker said...

I personally hate rom-coms. Mainly because like you said they are dishonest. Although I have come across a few honest romantic films that I have enjoyed.

soniasoans said...

How about looking at it the other way we make movies that appeal to a reality that is not accessible to us. We like love stories because they tantalise us and help us meet our unfulfilled desires. Two hours of fantasy appeals to our desires even when it unreal.

Art influences life but art is also influenced by life.

scot in exile said...

some styles of movies do fulfill that inaccessible fantasy role - bollywood is a classic example of a genre that provides that kind of escapism.

i suspect given the nature of those films there is little or no suggestion of attainability, unlike western rom-coms which are rooted in everyday western life life in terms of characters and also inspiration for the narratives eg the popularity of email and the film 'you've got mail'.