Film & TV

Behind The Lens: Rom-Com

Artwork by Amelia Field

By Muskan Arora

Romantic comedies have travelled and progressed a long way, from Pretty Woman to Isn’t it Romantic. There was a time when these movies revolved around men and communicated  the message of how a man is necessary to complete a woman, no matter how successful the woman is. These movies inculcated in our generation that it isn’t important to love yourself first but rather valued the idea of loving a man to complete one’s own existence. 

Women all over the world were made to happily believe that a fairy tale ending is crucial and only possible with a man. For men, they had this pressure of being the perfect ‘prince charming’, who would get on a horse and rescue the girl they like. Romance in real life suffocated because of such a dreamy bubble. 

Nonetheless, there are movies like Titanic, which were considered ahead of their time then and are still relevant now. Rose, despite Jack dying, did not stop living her life or step down from all the happiness she deserved. These movies  highlighted the importance of self love and moving on in life. Even though many critics suggest differently and say Rose was never happy after Jack died, I would disagree. She had grandchildren and kept Jack in her heart as a happy memory but never stopped living because of Jack. 

On the contrary, more modern rom-coms, such as Isn’t It Romantic introduced a new and inspiring concept, where the female protagonist thinks that her happiness and authentic self is bound to a man and being in a relationship, but then discovers that self-love and being independent is what gives her true joy. This interesting turn in the film is what ultimately won the hearts of the audience.

Even as children, the importance of self-love is not discussed around us as often as it should be, which growing up makes us believe that we aren’t enough – we can not fight the world alone or even stay happy without a man in our life. Awareness around the importance of self -love is growing through such movies. 

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) in Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

Meanwhile, there are many of us who are inspired by these typical rom-com cliches and it isn’t necessarily our fault since these outlooks have been ingrained into us from an early age. Some of us still dream of bumping into a man, who catches us as we fall down (all of this accompanied by romantic background music, of course!), whilst some of us are still convinced that finding love on dating apps isn’t the perfect way.

‘I have come to realise that before we love anyone else, it is very crucial to love and accept ourselves.’

Another trend which is coming more to light is that relationships aren’t perfect – be it with yourself or your partner. Sequels of movies like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Kissing Booth, bring notice to how every relationship has problems and is flawed rather than being a fairy tale.

Recent romantic comedies (eg. The Big Sick, The Lovebirds) include and promote ethnic minority groups by casting them as protagonists, thus moving away from the predominantly Caucasian-centred narrative of the overall genre. This not only shows equality but is also relatable to the masses. This is a huge change that needs to be acknowledged more as the traditional power dynamics in Hollywood are finally changing. Actors like Priyanka Chopra and Lana Condor, who already established their place in Hollywood, constantly continue to inspire other BAME people that everything and anything is achievable. 

The Big Sick (2017)

Through such media content, we are instilling in our younger generation that one’s race, gender, sexuality or ethnicity should never be a limiting factor. It also emphasizes the view that a man is not the only aim every girl should have. We as a society need to burst the bubble of patriarchy and need to stop discriminating against people solely based on their background. Regardless of one’s background, you deserve to love yourself and not be bound by these social norms. 

Our media content has grown rapidly and still has a long way to go. Romantic comedies are and will keep growing with time. What we ultimately need to take away from this genre is the importance of self-acceptance and how this can increase our overall sense of happiness.