Romance, Romantics, and Representation

Luna Yepez, Guest Writer

I remember watching romance movies and then watching videos that pointed out the tropes that are used over and over again. Many tropes are toxic and lead to a lack of representation for minorities.

 In many romance movies, common tropes include the bad boy, the shy boy that finally gets the girl, the quirky shy girl, the smart girl that’s hard to get, and the gay best friend. The relationships can be portrayed as the picture-perfect couple or the best of friends but the way certain main characters are portrayed can perpetuate harmful stereotypes. 

For example, the gay best friend. As George Gene Gustines states in A Romantic Comedy About a Gay Teenager, the gay best friend “…Is the supportive best friend spouting quips and offering sage relationship or fashion advice.” It’s a stereotypical representation of gay people, it also shows how some people perceive gay people. By limiting the representation of romance as being a perfect union between a girl and a boy, with the gay best friend being a token sidekick, it is forcing members of the LGBTQ community into a cookie-cutter stereotype. 

 It may be true that movies are just pretend and the characters are played up and no one is truly like the characters portrayed in movies, but there are still some repercussions. 

This is important because of the repercussion of people seeing those types of romances. As Juile Beck puts it “…But these movies still create an image of romance that leaks into the atmosphere and may subtly shape people’s perceptions and expectations of love.” People know it’s not real but those movies can plant something. For instance, a man crawling in through a woman’s window to pursue her romantically might be passed off as a romantic gesture, when in reality that’s an invasion of privacy. People who see toxic masculinity being dressed up as romance can interpret that in their own lives, especially young women who are typically the target demographic. 

Some solutions to this are to allow these movies to try and show more representations for people and show the repercussions of what actually happens if you exhibit some of the toxic behavior that is idealized in the movies. Movies need to show a clear line between what’s toxic and what’s not. 

Watching these romance movies when you’re younger and seeing these toxic relationships can lead to toxic decisions. The representation of certain groups played up just for laughs or being there to support the main character, and the glorification of toxic masculinity is perpetuating stereotypes, normalizing unhealthy behaviors, and harming those who are part of the minority. There are a lot better things movie producers can do.