First, consider the following discussion from: "The Romanticization of Love in the Mass Media" by Dr. Mary-Lou Galician:
Higher usage of certain mass media is related to unrealistic expectations of relationships and leads to dissatisfaction in real-life relationships. Disney romance is deeply ingrained into the American psyche. Our unrealistic expectations about romance can lead to us becoming very dissatisfied with the reality of our own romantic lives.
Many social critics, relationship therapists and popular books about couples have accused the mass media of brainwashing consumers with portrayals of romanticized love that is unattainable as a goal and unhealthy as a model and thereby, contributing to the constructions of these unrealistic expectations. A large part of the problem is the glorification of false love through the media, which hold out insubstantial but glamorous relations as a never-ending lure. The relationships portrayed by the media are a symbol of status rather than of emotional health or personal well-being (13,14).
Do you agree or disagree with Dr. Galician? Are the relationships portrayed in the media unrealistic and harmful to the expectations of our real life partnerships? Or are there just as many examples of realistic loving relationships in the media as there are in literature?
Does literature do any better job at accurately portraying realistic love than does popular media?
Love as portrayed in the media: Love stories are the topic of many movies, and nearly all movies have at least a love story line even if small. Other types of media also often portray love such as television comedies, dramas, soap operas, fairy tale cartoons, etc. Many people would say that there is a particular movie regarding love that feels similar to their own experience with it. For example, The Notebook is a movie (usually categorized as "chick flick") that portrays romantic love. Does that type of love exist in real life?
Love may not always be portrayed as romantic; it may be portrayed as painful. There's a movie called When a Man Loves a Woman about a husband who sticks by his alcoholic wife through the screaming, fighting, drunken chaos, and her treatment, and then welcomes her back home. Does a movie like that portray true love?
Love as portrayed in literature: Consider the literature we have read in this unit written by some true romantics as well as some realists who see the challenging sides of loving long term, not just when it's new and exciting. Does any of the literature we read accurately portray the emotions of true love? Why or why not? Pay attention to the metaphors in the poems, the symbols in the stories, and other fictional elements as you write about the literature.
Your Writing Assignment
1. Write an opening statement (thesis statement) stating your opinion on whether literature or popular media is more adept at portraying the complexity of loving human relationships and reacting to Dr. Mary-Lou Galician's assertions above.
2. In your support paragraphs, give specific examples of metaphor, symbol, character, dialogue, language, and other elements of fiction from the literature of this unit that support your point. Refer to both poems and stories.
3. For media, refer to movies, television programs, Disney fairy tales, soap operas, and other visual media to support your point.
Purpose: Comparing the theme of love in literature to the same theme as portrayed in popular media involves critical thinking regarding the culture of the media and how it influences our thinking on our real life relationships. Comparing literature to media also allows the student to think critically about a very familiar experience (watching movies and television) to a less familiar experience (analyzing literature).
Literature is more accurate in its portrayals of love than the popular or mass media portrayals of love because written text is better at exploring the actions, emotions and feelings of love in depth than is a purely visual medium. (Thesis statement - can be argued for or against. Change this to reflect your own personal opinion)
Mass media portrayals of love in the visual mass media can only explore the portions of love that can be visually shown. Movies are very visceral, and many people who actively dislike reading are avid fans of motion pictures. That in itself will shed some light on the brainless aspect of what is portrayed in many motion pictures, but brain-dead entertainment issues aside, there are complexities of action, feelings, thought and emotion which cannot be effectively portrayed in a visual medium. Discussing them between characters can be effective, but it still does not allow us insight into what the characters are thinking. We viewers infer what they are thinking, feeling, motivations behind what they do and say, based on what they say and how they behave. We are interpreting what literature can communicate quite specifically and clearly. Failure to Launch, a romantic comedy, illustrates both immature romantic attraction and mature adult affection - but love? Even the adults are portrayed as insecure in their affections, unsure of their commitment, or just plain oblivious to their spouse. The immature young people who are portrayed as "being in love" lie to each other, commit atrocities of betrayal and manipulation, say hurtful and humiliating things to each other in front of a horrified public audience, and at the end of this film, fall majestically in love, with all injuries forgotten, because, of course, "love conquers all." Horse cookies. How many people do you know whose relationship has survived even one significant disagreement of that sort, let alone a whole string of them? And this is a portrayal of true love? They showed their affection for each other by using a game of "Bullshit," and that's pretty much a metaphor for the loves portrayed in ...
Comparisons of love as portrayed in books versus the same story portrayed in film, and discussion of the fact that the book is richer, deeper and more meaningful that a film version could ever be.