Do romcoms normalise stalking behaviour?

(20 Posts)
Destinysdaughter Wed 03-Feb-16 14:32:01

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/romantic-comedies-teach-women-that-stalking-is-a-compliment_us_56a8fa1fe4b0f7179928a17d

Interesting report stating that some romcoms normalise stalking behaviour.

An excerpt:

Romantic Comedies Teach Women That Stalking Is A Compliment

A new study suggests rom coms perpetuate dangerous myths, and make it harder to prosecute stalkers.

The study, published recently in Communication Research, found that participants who watched movies in which men’s “persistent pursuit” of women was depicted as romantic -- as it so often is in rom coms -- were more likely to subscribe to stalking myths.

Stalking myths are the misconceptions that underpin our conventional wisdom about the crime. They include ideas like "many alleged stalking victims are actually people who played hard to get and changed their minds afterwards," "stalking has no serious, lasting impact on the victim," and the notion that lots of stalking "could be avoided if the alleged victim would have just told his/her stalker clearly that s/he was definitely not interested in a romantic relationship."

The study, published recently in Communication Research, found that participants who watched movies in which men’s “persistent pursuit” of women was depicted as romantic -- as it so often is in rom coms -- were more likely to subscribe to stalking myths.

Stalking myths are the misconceptions that underpin our conventional wisdom about the crime. They include ideas like "many alleged stalking victims are actually people who played hard to get and changed their minds afterwards," "stalking has no serious, lasting impact on the victim," and the notion that lots of stalking "could be avoided if the alleged victim would have just told his/her stalker clearly that s/he was definitely not interested in a romantic relationship."

And then, there’s the myth that is central to so many romantic comedies: "An individual who goes to the extremes of stalking must really feel passionately for his/her love interest." He stalked you because he just loves you so much. It’s romantic.

Take the scene in "Love, Actually" in which Keira Knightley’s character discovers that her new husband’s best friend has been secretly filming her while simultaneously treating her like garbage -- the former because he claims to love her, the latter as "a self-preservation thing." She’s shocked, but the movie directs us to overlook the total creepiness of the close-up camcorder shots he’s taken and hoarded in his apartment, and to instead empathize with his tortured, unrequited love. Later, when he shows up at Knightley's character's house and wordlessly professes his love while her husband, his best friend, sits unknowingly upstairs, it’s supposed to be the romantic climax of their storyline, and it remains one of the most beloved moments of this modern classic."

Destinysdaughter Wed 03-Feb-16 14:33:15

Clicky link

m.huffpost.com/us/entry/romantic-comedies-teach-women-that-stalking-is-a-compliment_us_56a8fa1fe4b0f7179928a17d

NathalieM Wed 03-Feb-16 15:31:05

Films are supposed to be escapist fantasy, so I don't think anyone ever thinks about them from this perspective. Being persistent is sometimes key to relationships, so films need to take this and dramatise it to make it entertainment.

Completely agree about that scene from Love Actually though; here husband, YOUR BEST MATE, is sitting upstairs whilst you kiss his wife. And we're supposed to root for this guy? bleh.

0phelia Wed 03-Feb-16 15:45:06

Guardian ran the same article today!
Must have been a good press release.

I read it and thought there was truth in it, actually.

But I believe Rom-Coms simply reflect established archetypes in society rather than create them. We have to live in a society with male sexual aggression and women create all sorts of cognitive processes to deal with this.

It's not released how the study actually measured a person's tolerence for stalker behaviour and male agression so it most likely listed hypothetical scenarios for the participants to grade on paper. If subject to male aggression or stalking in real life, the participant's tolerance may well be totally different.

I'm generally skeptical of studies like these.

www.theguardian.com/film/2016/feb/03/rom-coms-women-stalker-myth-study

caitlinohara Wed 03-Feb-16 16:06:24

Totally agree with the Love Actually example and have always found that really weird. I have no idea what the writers were thinking when they included that storyline. Why does she kiss him when he turns on her doorstep??

slugseatlettuce Wed 03-Feb-16 20:55:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

slugseatlettuce Wed 03-Feb-16 20:56:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Destinysdaughter Wed 03-Feb-16 21:12:54

And if any of you have read the steaming pile of tripe that is 50 Shades, Christian Grey is the biggest stalker ever!

IShouldBeSoLurky Wed 03-Feb-16 21:32:02

Yes, I agree, there's an awful lot of it about. See also creepy stepdad porn in Amazon's Young Adult category, which is wrong on all sorts of levels.

MrsToddsShortcut Fri 05-Feb-16 11:45:49

I always though this with Buffy actually, with Angel popping up in her bedroom in the dead of night to just, you know, 'be' with her.

What bothered me more about the Guardian article were the majority of comments afterwards that just completely dismissed it out of hand.

My feeling is that Fairy Tales with the idea of the handsome Prince rescue fantasy and the promulgation of the 'I can fix him if I love him enough' ideas via stories and Disney (Beauty and the Beast etc) are very damaging to girls as they internalise the message and then reflect that back in their relationships. It's another way of maintaining the dynamic.

I see no reason why fms should be viewed differently . Adt women are not being 'stupid', they are having childhood messages reinforced into adulthood.

MrsToddsShortcut Fri 05-Feb-16 11:47:19

Films and Adult, obviously! (Grr...iPhone)

HelenaDove Fri 05-Feb-16 19:27:33

I recently read The Book of You by Claire Kendal. A very realistic portrayl of stalking and how it escalates.

Destinysdaughter Fri 05-Feb-16 20:58:11

I think romcoms and a lot of romantic fiction in general makes acceptable v unacceptable behaviour both for men and women.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 05-Feb-16 23:37:19

I've never seen Love Actually. Nor the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast.

I'm not sure that's a fair analysis of traditional Beauty and the Beast stories. She does not think she can fix him if she loves him enough -she loves him for himself. There are many brave and resourceful women in traditional fairy tales.

DrSeussRevived Sat 06-Feb-16 01:14:03

Agree rom coms can be stalky.

MrsToddsShortcut Sat 06-Feb-16 11:24:14

Fair enough Lass, perhaps I didn't think that through. I think what I was referring to are the appropriations of traditional fairy tales (by companies like Disney) that reinforce gender norms and romantic myths in a way that I don't think is helpful.

Inkanta Thu 18-Feb-16 07:52:16

I think the word 'stalking' can be overused and wrongly applied to normal psychological processes such as the process of coming to terms with rejection or break up of a relationship. A man chasing a girl he's attracted to - that is a normal process as well to a point.

Stalking is a serious intimidating and harassing behaviour that is harmful. I don't like pathologising normal processes and using that term so easily. On a RomCom - the pursuit of a woman/man, so to speak is generally with good intentions and not harmful intent and you know there will be a good outcome.

My kids tell me I'm stalking if I've seen a facebook status - this term is used so effortlessly.

PalmerViolet Thu 18-Feb-16 10:26:05

The stalker's intentions are immaterial. If the target feels intimidated, it's stalking.

I'm pretty sure that there's not a single stalker who would tell you anything other than: 'I love him/her, I just wanted them to know' or 'it was a simple disagreement, I just wanted him/her to acknowledge they were wrong'* without understanding that, hanging out outside someone's home, workplace, bombarding them with texts, tweets, parcels or whatever is intimidating.

I'd agree that there are normal psychological processes during grieving for a relationship, however, in many romcoms such behaviour is often enlarged for dramatic effect, often wins the ex back and so to an extent, normalises more extreme actions taken by grieving people.

I wouldn't for one second suggest that this is always the case, just that, if someone is already predisposed to this kind of behaviour, it might make it seem ok iyswim?

*My stalker's justification for sending over 100 tweets a day, along with emails and Facebook messages.

Inkanta Thu 18-Feb-16 11:49:15

Was the behaviour that we are talking about in these RomComs classic stalking is what I'd like to know? Were the characters feeling intimidated? I haven't seen Love Actually.

I have watched the word stalking get thrown around willy nilly, and sometimes be said in a mean way to label people who are not necessarily stalkers.

I have every sympathy for anyone who is genuinely stalked and who feels that awful sickening intimidation on a daily basis.

moptopp Thu 18-Feb-16 12:34:10

Beauty and the Beast - yes she loves him for himself, but is then 'rewarded' when he turns back into a handsome man. Her love transforms him, it's the ultimate story of the love of a good woman 'fixing' a broken man. He is 'good' under all the exterior beastiness, but how often is that said on here 'he is a good father/husband/man, it's just this one thing he does that annoys/worries/scares me...'.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now