Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What I think about--Chick Flicks as Emotional Porn

A few weeks ago I organized my DVD collection (you can read about it here) and noticed how extensive my Rom-Com selection was.  I’m pretty sure I own every movie inspired by an Austen novel or with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in it.  Don’t even get me started on Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock.

Luckily for me, I married a man who loves chick-flicks as much as I do.  (To be fair I should mention my absolute love of sports shows, war movies and action shows.  I practically forced Matt to take me to Gladiator 3 times, I’ve seen the Italian Job so many times that I consider myself an expert Mini-Cooper driver despite never having been in one, and I still get goose bumps from Rudy, Invincible, Hoosiers, Remember the Titans …).  We’re movie compatible—for the most part.

Matt and I parted movie ways when Twilight came out.  And this is when I started to notice a slightly unhealthy obsession with women (not tweens—grown, married women). 

I’ve already shared my thoughts on Edward but as I think more critically, I wonder if there is something wrong with the female consumption of chick-flicks. 

Are chick flicks emotional porn?

When I started looking into this topic, I ran across the article “You’ve Got Lies” by Beth Spraul.  In her article, Spraul asserts that as pornography appeals to men’s visual instincts and creates a false ideal of the female body and interest in sex, chick flicks create a false emotional ideal of the role of men in romance and marriage. Through chick-flicks, Spraul contends that women learn to believe these lies:
  • Men and women view emotional and relational intimacy in the same way.
  • Marrying the right man will make everything perfect in my life.
  • I’ll know he’s the “right” man by the feelings I have when I’m around him.

By accepting these lies as truth, many women compare men to fictional heartthrobs and disregard important qualities like faith, character, and humility because of physical attraction or “chemistry.” (P.S.  I hated chemistry).

I’ll admit that I’ve bought the “lies” in the past.  I’ve been swept up in “feelings” that weren’t ok and have placed super unhealthy expectations on males in relationships.  But now, I think I’m healthy enough to know that life with Matt isn’t perfect. He’s going to make me mad and offend me and not defend me when I need him to.  Only God is my all in all.  And trust me, after being around Matt for nearly 11 years, I’ve pretty much caught on to the fact that we view romance and intimacy in vastly different ways (and I didn’t even need to read Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus).

Are women are being subtly attacked?  Are the emotional lies told in chick-flicks less harmful than the lies portrayed in pornography?  Spraul states, “Like pornography, chick-flicks take a good gift from God (romance, relational intimacy) that women are created to desire, and distort it by presenting as “normal” an unbiblical and unrealistic picture of men, love and marriage. And just like men who buy into the lies of pornography, women who believe that their husbands and marriages should always be like what they see on the screen will be sinfully dissatisfied with God’s good gift to them of a “normal” husband and marriage.”

Um, WOW.

I have to admit I struggle with this because I believe pornography actually IS sinful whereas I think chick-flicks can be viewed without sin.   

Suffice it to say, I don’t know what I think about Chick Flicks though research has encouraged me to be a more conscious consumer for the sake of my marriage and Mr. Darcy Matt.

I’d love to know your thoughts (since mine are so scattered)!  Are chick flicks emotional porn?  

The comment line is open!


  1. Interesting.
    I agree with you that porn is sinful and chick flicks are not.

    I think I am also torn on this one. I know that I don't believe the lies from romantic movies, but I also know that there are many that do and this can be very harmful in relationships.It can keep people from being truly happy with the real version of a Godly man/woman.

    Even though, I dont think it's sinful, I think we (men and women) should be very careful what we put before our eyes and also what we do with the information we get from it.

    Being able to appreciate a good fictional story and using as a guideline for our lives and/or relationships are two very different things. We have to be careful that we don't get 'sucked in' to the lies of the world.

    Maybe it is emotional porn, but I think it is still vastly different than real porn.

  2. Wow, good question! I'm not sure what I think because I have a firm grasp on reality. I can't even imagine getting so caught up in ANY movie that I would let it dictate my life or my relationships.

    I suppose there are people out there who can't tell the difference, but those people probably have many other mental health issues. Men and women are very different, but just like I can watch a chick flick and not get too caught up in it, there are plenty of men out there who can watch porn and not expect to meet women like that in the grocery store.

    I guess it just comes down to whether or not you have been taught how to draw that line between fantasy and reality. It's okay to read a fictional story and use your imagination and it's okay to watch a fictional movie and enjoy it, but when you close that book or turn that movie off, let's live in the present. :)

  3. In reality I see and know of more women who accept men and relationships that are sub par in my mind. If anything they need to understand that they deserve better. While the romance and devotion shown in Rom Coms is unrealistic I don't think it hurts women to realize that being treated lovingly and respectfully is attainable.

  4. @Amy--I agree that we must be mindful not to get sucked into nonsense!

    @Jenny--I think you and I are similar in that we are helpful skeptics--my real issue is seeing women fall for chick-flick nonsense (you know the TwiMoms I'm referring to ...)

    @Anonymous--I agree that women must have high expectations of men. I just hope women would look to Biblical interpretations (that men treat and love them like Christ loved the church) as opposed to searching for an unrealistic movie ideal.

  5. I am not a big chick flick person. My husband is however. Which kinda cracks me up. Anyways, I think that they do give women an unrealistic idea of what love and romance is supposed to be. I think that if you are able to separate yourself from the movie and realize its not real then you're good to go. But if you can't then its something you need to stay away from. I think these movies make it hard for real men to live up to the standards that these movies portray. I'm not saying that they shouldn't have to live up to standards, but the ones in these movies are at times obsurd. Life isnt always chocolate and roses, and conflicts aren't always resolved in an hour. I think women need to have healthy expectations of men, and realize that the men in the movies aren't real.

  6. While I love to watch the story between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy unfold, I would never have married a Mr. Darcy. He is a bit unstable. As are most of the romantic heroes. I think it is great to have expectations of the men in our lives to be romantic and to communicate that need to them, but men aren't naturally that way and accepting that is the first step to having a great marriage.

    A love story that totally makes me swoon: A Beautiful Mind. It's based on a true story and has stuck in my mind for years as a wonderful example of what TRUE love can do for a person.

    And Edward? I must admit that I think he and Bella have a totally unhealthy relationship. Fun reading. Bad reality.


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