Monday, October 24, 2016

Romance: The Great Equalizer

A Lack of Balance

I've noticed a sad trend lately, and it only appears to be on the upswing. Since the Nineties, more and more popular media are jumping on the bandwagon of misandry. From sitcoms to commercials to popular films, we are given examples where the male character bumbles along beside a much wittier female lead.

I've blogged about this before, but the explosion of films where men are maligned has pushed me over the edge of tolerance for it.  I recently watched "Ghostbusters" (the new one, circa 2016) and was mortified to find that, once again, Hollywood has presented the public with a story where men are marginalized to the extent of pointlessness. The men in this film are either hopeless bad guys, irritants, or witless eye candy. The script could have done so much with Chris Hemsworth, who has scads of talent, but it left him to hobble around as a constant joke. The original "Ghostbusters" had Bill Murray portraying a womanizing layabout, but we at least had the satisfaction of seeing him step up to the plate by the end.

Instead of fostering a gender balance, Hollywood has somehow decided that in order to empower women, it must now belittle men. I was embarrassed for my gender as we watched the female characters in the film ogle his character while shaking their heads at his stupidity. Switch genders in this film. If all the leads were male, and that poor, dumb, attractive secretary was female, women everywhere would be in an uproar.

What does this kind of movie say to my nine-year-old son who watched it with me - that he is only worth what he looks like on the outside, and that it's okay not to strive for a more meaningful part in society? What does it say to women - that it's okay to drool over a man and ridicule him if he isn't brilliant? Come on, Hollywood: stop pandering and start telling a story that requires real work!

Romance to the Rescue

One of the reasons I love writing the romances I do is the equality between the sexes. Romance writers know what Hollywood seems to have forgotten: that it takes balance to build a strong relationship, and anything less is not worth fighting for. Balance between a hero and heroine is what makes a powerful story. Each brings something to the relationship, helping to form a solid whole that is greater than its parts. There is no ridicule, no "I am better than you." The hero may be strong. He may be an alpha male to the core. He may say he needs no one, but eventually he finds himself seeking out the heroine for her own strengths. The heroine can be strong in her own right, able to lead a corporation or captain a military unit, but she still comes to rely on the hero for his strengths to augment her own. A relationship that lacks such give-and-take will never last. I keep waiting for Hollywood to get this into their heads and write me a comedy where the hero and heroine stand on equal footing.

Until then, I'll do some writing of my own.

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