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My cousin recently posted on Facebook that she decided it was time to share one of her favorite movies; Dirty Dancing with her now adult daughter and she totally ruined the movie for her. More recently, she watched Sleepless in Seattle with her adult son and he totally destroyed that story for her too. While we grew up viewing these movies as “love stories”, now that we’re raising a more socially conscious generation, watching them together brings a whole new perspective. I must warn you, reading on might change the way you view things from here on out! If you view some of these movies from a more socially conscious viewpoint, it’s easy to see how they go from rom-com to horror story.
Dirty Dancing (1987) definitely deals with some pretty adult situations and most of us really only thought about the misunderstood bad-boy and the thoughtful, caring girl who never stopped believing in him. As my cousin’s daughter pointed out though, the whole movie is just a serious of bad decisions – and usually those made by the female characters or the result of really toxic relationships. To me, the story was always about how love conquers all and that even good people sometimes make bad decisions, but now that I’ve heard her take on it, I have to say that I can’t disagree.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993) which is of course a remake of An Affair to Remember (1957), according to my cousin’s son is basically a movie that glorifies cheating. YIKES! As one of my cousin’s friends commented on her post about this one, it’s also kind of saying that stalking is okay; as Annie does. Annie goes to Sam’s house, follows him and Jonah to the beach and watches them play and now that she mentioned that, don’t even get me started on hiring the private investigator! Not to worry, though –You’ve Got Mail (1998), reverses the situation and Joe Fox stalks and manipulates Kathleen Kelly. Add to that, Nelson Fox’s cheating ways (although, he does get hit by the karma bus when Gillian runs off with the Nanny) and here’s another favorite that takes a lighthearted view of some really toxic situations. I’ve never seen The Shop Around the Corner (1941), which was the movie that You’ve Got Mail is based on, but I’ll definitely be looking to find that title too, as I’m interested in getting back to original versions and comparing the remakes. There’s also another version, In the Good Old Summertime (1949) that I’m adding to the list, but that’s another article.
Continuing the discussion on Facebook, another of my cousin’s friends points out that she read an article about how The Notebook (2004) is a perfect example of an abusive relationship. I never really thought about all the manipulative, obsessive behavior that Noah displays or that Allie is pretty physically abuse toward Noah throughout. Like most chick-flick lovers, I really only gave myself over to the agony of their separation; first physically and then later when Allie’s Alzheimer’s takes over and Noah tries so desperately to help her hold on to the memories they had. I’m almost afraid to watch it now that I’ve gotten this new perspective, as I think it may invoke an entirely different emotion throughout the movie.
In discussing this article with my friend Vikki, she reminded me of another favorite movie with much darker situation in Sixteen Candles (1984), where Jake puts a passed out drunk girlfriend in his father’s car and hands the keys over to Ted. Later in the movie, we see Ted and Jake’s girlfriend Caroline in the parking lot of the church and Ted asks if they, “ummmm…” and Caroline says “yeah, I’m pretty sure”. This could be an indication that Ted took advantage of her, or since he had to ask, maybe not – but the implication is that something sinister happened. No matter how you look at it, much of what goes on in that movie is pretty dark and the relationship between Jake and Caroline is definitely toxic. This movie could easily go from rom-com to horror story.
While art certainly does imitate life, there will always be those who argue the negative affect that movies have on younger minds, but maybe in light of how socially conscious our younger generations are turning out to be, we should be looking at the positive affects. They certainly seem to be more cognizant of the underlying issues that these movies portrayed than we ever did! Still, now that we’ve picked these favorite movies apart, I will probably still feed my inner hopeless romantic with these stories, believing that they’re still showing that there’s good in everyone, love conquers all and all those other sappy notions. After all, I prefer rom-coms to horror stories. How bout you?
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