The media teaches us that love has to be romantic, it has to be between a man and woman, only in the recent years is that people’s horizons are expanding with the help of the media that no love can be anything, love can be between any two people in any way. In this post I want to explore a bit more on how society and the media sees love.
Love in Film throughout the Years
Throughout history, the concept of love has changed a lot. If you look at films in the 1940s, everything was more simple, it all seemed more sophisticated and the characters were more suave. Love back then was about the conquest but at the same by the end of the 1940s it teaches us that love is also selfless and giving, it was in the 1940s that romantic movies took a different turn, World War 2 came and it took a toll in film history — the stories became less light hearted and more focused on challenges and difficulties.
As time went on, love is films became more realistic, colour film was invented and directors started to experiment with camera work and fancy editing, but also with colour and better sound, acting became more realistic so it almost became a necessity to make different stories. It no longer could be like the simplicity of the decades before, it had to live up to the standard as the camera quality.
In the 1970s came the action revolution, the most iconic films of the 70s were anything but romantic, you have hits like The Godfather, Star Wars, JAWS and Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but soon came the 80s and romance was a trend again. Films were finally touching topics that no one dared to go before, films like Pretty Woman that touches topics like prostitution, but even though love started being more realistic in the 1980s it was still very idealised and unrealistic in various ways.
Soon the 1990s came and romantic films took a dramatic turn, love became about sacrifice, sad endings, and drama. Many films also started talking about mental illness and other things; but one thing that seemed to be very prominent in the 1990s and even early 2000s was essentially the drama — for example, Ghost (1990) was a love story between a woman and man but then the man dies, or one of the most iconic films of the 90s: “Titanic” was about the forbidden love that ended in tragedy.
Now, in the 2010s, it’s a different story, romantic films became more diverse, there is still a lot of unrealistic love stories but directors and writers started exploring all sorts of topics and taught people that love is a mystery and no one truly knows what it actually is but everyone agrees that love is too deep, too complicated for words.
Sex ≠ Love
The media likes to teach us that there is love without sex, no romance without sex; Hollywood makes too much emphasis on the sex aspect of relationships and forgets about other aspects. But then they also teach us that is wrong to have too much sex but having less sex is also frowned upon. Media shapes our society and it seems to create all the wrong expectations and concepts.
In the early cinema, gay characters only appeared as a joke and eventually censorship became more strict and gay characters had to be the villain or get killed off, which is something that comes from centuries prior where in literature you couldn’t have a queer character unless you killed them off or they had a sad ending. This comes from religion’s high involvement in our society in the last couple of centuries, and according to most religions, homosexuality is a sin.
It was only after the 1970s, after the Stonewall riots of ’69, the gay revolution started and queer people started going out and say “I am here, I am queer and it’s not a sin” and that affected the media industry as well. Directors saw a chance and started marketing films and tv shows to the LGBT community, but it still wasn’t to the standard of today.
Even though the first ground breaking love film was Brokeback Mountain in 2005 in USA, but there was a few queer films before that made path to what we have today, and even thought USA came out with such an iconic gay film, nowadays they are very behind compared to Europe. Being queer in Europe is such a normal thing while in America is still persecuted and that reflects in the media.
But not normal enough that queer characters have happy ending, and a normal life without being gay is not the only thing to their character.
My goal is to normalise the appearance of LGBT characters in films, by doing so, for example in my short film, the main character is a trans boy but the film doesn’t focus on the fact that he is trans but the main point of the film is love, it’s nothing but a boy who happens to be trans that fell in love with a girl.
YouTube. (2016). 19 Pop Culture Moments That Helped Shape LGBT History. [online] Available at: https://youtu.be/Au6PHM3f-U8
YouTube. (2015). History of Homosexuality on Film. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeDhMKd83r4
Samudre, N. (2017). How Pop Culture Messes With Our View of Love and Beauty | ChurchPlants. [online] ChurchPlants. Available at: http://churchplants.com/articles/10355-how-pop-culture-messes-with-our-view-of-love-and-beauty.html
Wenger, D. (2017). The Tragic Lessons of Cinema’s First Gay Love Story. [online] The New Yorker. Available at: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/the-tragic-lessons-of-cinemas-first-gay-love-story