Let me ask a fairly simple question; What qualities do you want in your romantic partner? Respectful? Communicative? Attractive? Funny? Let me tell you what. You’re going to forget all of this when I tell you, yes YOU can date a manipulative, stupid, unethical, bland, tasteless pile of leftover moldy pizza crusts and miserable poetry that has been assembled into a horrible homunculus. of a high school student. Oh yeahâ¦ and they’re “eah”.
Now, before I ask you if I mixed my fruit roll-up with LSD tablets, let me clarify that I again watched Netflix movies en masse. For some reason, this brandy and cosmic brownie fueled movie trip saw me lining up one teenage rom-com after another. However, this self-destructive frenzy revealed something familiar to me across the worlds of “Tall Girl”. and “The Kissing Booth”: the boys. To show what I’m talking about, let’s look at one of these gems.
I saw âTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Beforeâ when he arrived at his streaming house in 2018 (I’m not even going to watch the * thrill * sequel). It was a moderate success, generating some popularity online and decent critical reception. Let me be blunt: it wasn’t completely bad. Make no mistake, the film adaptation of Jenny Han’s popular coming-of-age novel will win nothing but a participation ribbon for acting, screenwriting and score, but it is is arguably his worst sin. It’s boring, by heart and unimaginative, but it’s hardly painful in isolation. That’s what I thought though, until you line up all of “those” movies and see the sexy guy-sized shadow on the wall. Arts editor Katy Smith wrote an incredible comparison of Lady Bird and Pretty in pink not long ago that you should all go and read. However, behind every young woman in a coming-of-age movie is a stack of photocopied male characters scribbled down by a Netflix screenwriter.
With “All the boys,âThis model is Peter Kavinsky, portrayed by the successful and upcoming Noah Centineo. In this little nut of a tale, the protagonist, Lara Jean Covey, discovers that a collection of secret letters dedicated to her past “loves” have all been delivered to their appropriate muses. Lara Jean finds herself helping Peter (a letter recipient), posing as his girlfriend in order to make his ex jealous. As expected, shenanigans ensue and the two high school students end up falling in love with each other faster than I could yawn at each trick. But what’s more disturbing than a very silly plot or squeaky performances is the character development. Lara Jean, like the protagonists in similar films, is the subject of the classic ‘coming of age’ phrase and, although she does not innovate in any great way, she functions as a dynamic character. . However, Peter is not working. It exists, and hardly more. The “charming” features the movie wants us to associate with it, such as its pop culture references and – I guess you’d call that a smirk – just serve as a wallpaper. He and all the male lovers of this genre of film are the tofu of the film. They are useful in establishing the vices of others, but lack intrigue to make theirs more than fleas. Not all films fall into these traps, but the growing wave of stereotypical “nothings” and the often positive critical response suggest audiences are eating it.
So why is it problematic to have simple characters? The idea of ââwildcard types spanning between movies isn’t inherently new, or offensive, except perhaps for the waning vestige of originality. Placement is important, however, and this is where portraying male characters in romantic teenage comedies can be dangerous. While the audiences for these films are typically not young men, the repetitive onslaught of poor characters not only provides pitiful role models, but creates an expectation. In its simplest form, a romantic relationship needs people, warts, and everything. So when you introduce the man, woman, or anyone else whose protagonist ends up falling in love with as an impressionable archetype, we start to appear in the real world. This creates unrealistic expectations. We begin to feel that while our relationship does not mirror that of Laura Jean and Peter, it is neither normal nor healthy. Developing teens need to see their movie proxy do more than just interact with a brick.
In conclusion, I want to clarify that I understand that the pendulum swings in both directions. Women, LGBTQ +, and characters of color have of course been sidelined and stereotyped beyond recognition on a much larger scale than the âboyâ in a high school drama. My intention here is not to eclipse this long-standing injustice, but rather to use a part of the culture that is often casually rejected as a tool. Relationships are so vital to art and the human experience, and cinema is just one of those art forms that we interact with on a daily basis. We learn from film by projecting, so whether it’s a love interest, friend, or even foe, humanity is a necessary ingredient in these fictional characters on our screens. Love fully and fully, for people are whole and full.