Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Separating Fact from Fiction: A Primer

"What do you mean you're not really a Jacobite spy? Bastard!"
It's been a fun two days on Twitter, a much needed break from hospitals and worries. Spent part of the day cackling at responses with the romancekills hashtag. Don't know what that's about? Well, apparently, romance novels may be bad for marital health according to a psychologist, who stated in her recent book, “For many women, these novels really do promote dissatisfaction with their real relationship....” Really? Really really? So, does that mean there are a bunch of unhappy women walking around pissed because their husband / boyfriend / partner doesn't look like Fabio? Can the awful truth that the love of your life is not actually a swashbuckling pirate, a shape shifting werewolf, or a Confederate spy spell doom for your relationship?


You know, there's a reason why romance novels have been a booming business for decades. I may not write them, but they sure inspired me to become a writer. They sure keep readers of the genre happy. Beyond the escape into Happily-Ever-After Land, romance, like any other good book, should put readers in touch with emotions, as they experience fierce love and devastating hurts, and feel happy or sorry for the characters on the page. But in case no one knew it, readers still have to close the book at the end, come out of their cocoons of sheltering warmth and go back to living their lives. If at this point, you choose to rail at your significant other, "Why can't you be more like Lord Whats-His-Name? He fought the Vikings and a dragon to rescue his lady love, chopped wood for the fireplace, skinned a boar and roasted it whole, and made sweet and tender love to his lady by the fire," uh, my advice to you is, come back to reality! You didn't find or marry your significant other because he did any of those things FICTIONAL characters do. If you're dissatisfied with something in your relationship with him, no books going to cure that for you. You'd be silly to expect it or let a book make you think otherwise about someone you love. If you do, however, seek help. Maybe not from that psychologist, though.

Next up, did you know the Twilight movies may be influencing our views of domestic violence, in particular among tween / teen audiences? Damn, I knew that Kristen Stewart was insidious, as she chews her face off while delivering yet another monotone line as Bella. But I never knew how insidious! She's making teenage girls think that it's okay to have a boyfriend who controls them! Who's all sparkly and stuff! Who wants to kill his girlfriend and drink her blood! Actually, that is really a problem, because everyone knows that Jacob is sooooo much better for Bella than Edward. Uh, hello, are you blind? Seen the pecs on that wolf boy?

Seriously, now. For any teen girl that happens to drop by this blog, any woman caught in a relationship with a controlling or abusive partner, please don't think that the portrayals in the Twilight books or movies are or should be the reality of a relationship. I'm not even talking about the sparkly vampire thing either - hate to bust the bubble of anyone who just knows vampires are real. If you're in a controlling relationship, you don't need a movie or book to tell you there's something a little off about it. You probably already know. It's also likely that you know what you should be doing about this situation. Wishing you lots of courage and hoping you will get out of that life.

I can say a lot about Twilight and the girl who'd rather abandon her life, parents, friends and everything she's known to chase deer through the woods with her sparkly vampire love. But I won't. What I will say now is: IT'S FANTASY, NOT REALITY. If you can't differentiate between the two, if you're really sitting around waiting for your own Edward or Jacob to show up, I am actually going to recommend the one kernel of truth from that psychologist, in my own way of course: for God's sake, get out there and meet someone new. If by the odd happenstance, he's actually all sparkly or growls at you, run.          

So, about that primer. Need help separating fact from fiction about the love of your life versus the characters you watch or read about? Read on.

1. The love of your life is likely NOT going to be a sparkly vampire or a shape shifting werewolf, a Confederate spy, a swashbuckling pirate, or any of those things. Those sorts of people only exists in books, movies and in the case of the latter two, at reenactment events. At the end of day, the love of your life should be someone you would never let go of or forget, unlike the characters at the end of a book or movie.

2. The romance novel, like all other FICTION, offers a temporary escape. It is not reality. If, however, you are living the life of a romantic heroine, please fix your ripped bodice, tell the less than chivalrous cad - would be hero what he can really go do with himself and get on with your life, with or without him.

3. Twilight and similar themes are not causing the turmoil in yours or any other relationship. As real as the characters and their relationships may seem, you should not try to emulate them. If you do, good luck finding a sparkly vampire or werewolf to call your own. Be prepared to explain to others why you think sleeping with the undead and / or unnatural is really the way to go.


Victoria Dixon said...

Oh BRAVO! Well said. I guess that should be Brava, since you're a woman. Grammar. Grrr.

Sadly, I do think a lot of young marriages end because the women actually expect the romance to continue in swashbuckling dating fasion. I even know of one marriage that ended because the MAN married the romantic notion, rather than the living person. So sad.

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks, Victoria. It amazes me to hear you say that because I see so many relationships just grounded in reality and everyday mudane.

I remember watching my grandmother cry her eyes out at my grandfather's funeral. They'd been together 63 years, raised 11 kids and they were dirt poor. But they made it because of a good, solid foundation of love between them, that kept them together.

I'm amazed by couples who make it work with the pressures each person faces, whether from a job, their kids or just life in general. I guess some just want the fairy tale, but life isn't like, no matter what romance novels say.

Ian said...

Well said! :)

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