How Media Defines Our Romantic Ideals

By: Zak Mendez

From a young age Americans are taught through mass media the norms and ideals of romance. The earliest signs are evident in Disney films. Targeted toward youth, Disney films teach our children about the many aspects of the mass media developed sense of romance. As a young child I remember watching Disney movies over and over, not realizing the messages that they were presenting to me, not realizing how they were teaching me what romance is.

One of the most reoccurring themes in Disney’s idea of romance is that of “prince charming.” Disney teaches our youth to long for and desire this “prince charming” portraying him as the answer to all the problems anyone can have.

A great example of this is in the Disney film Cinderella, where the main character Cinderella grows up in a destitute situation in which she is mistreated by both her stepmother and siblings.

However, this situation is easily remedied by Cinderella going to the ball and finding the love of her “prince charming,” who whisks her away to his castle to live happily ever after.

This theme teaches our children, in particular young girls, that all their problems can be solved by the love of a man. This is Disney’s idea of how love should be found.

Along with the idea of “prince charming” Disney gives us many more ideas of how romance works. Disney movies teach young boys what to expect out of counterpart, namely what they should look like and how they should act. From watching films like Cinderella I learned that all boys should desire a tall, blond, thin woman who is quiet and submissive.

Furthermore, the body ideals and standards of beauty Disney includes in their romantic ideals teach young women how they can expect to be loved. From a Disney standpoint, young girls must be tall, thin, beautiful, and act like a Disney princess in order to be loved. It affects women’s ability to receive love because if they do not fit into the Disney ideals, they can expect that they will not find love.

Other Disney themes include the ideas of love at first sight, love conquers all, and love is forever, as well as ideals about marriage, weddings, and relationships. All of these ideas are taught to our children through mass media from a very early age.

These norms and ideals are only further solidified when individuals grow up by romance and rom-com movies as well as romance novels, usually targeted toward women. Which portray the same themes over and over in different formats for our society to see.

All of this begs the question, are these popular ideals presented by mass media, Disney in particular, really good ideals for our society to up hold?

The recent film Blue Valentine is, in my opinion, an accurate portrayal of how these ideals presented by mass media simply lead to delusions of love. In the film, the main character falls madly in love with his wife at first site, a love so strong that even after finding out that she is pregnant with her ex’s baby he decides to get married to her and raise the child.

He assumes that their love, infatuation would be a more appropriate term, will last forever and grow stronger. That they will be a loving couple late into their lives and when his relationship starts to falter he cannot understand why his wife no longer loves him. He continues to profess his love until the very end, blind to the fact that the life they were living together was a miserable one.

This film is a commentary on the vary nature of the ideals presented by Disney and other forms of romance industry. It shows how these ideals in the end are mere delusions of what love really is. Love is not everlasting, and love at first site is not truly love, and the idea that love conquers all is false, as evident by divorce rate in America.

So what does all this boil down to? Simple, the realization that romance is just another form of the cultural industry. From an early age our ideals of love and romance are manipulated and coerced so that business can make a buck off if things like weddings and Valentines

This entry was posted in Section 2, Winter 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How Media Defines Our Romantic Ideals

  1. Pingback: Student Blogs – Gender and Popular Culture | Popular Culture

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