Thursday, May 14, 2015

Of Unhealthy Fictional Relationships

This post has taken its own sweet time in writing itself. The time around when I realized the urgency of writing this was also when I had an epiphany – there were plenty other things I shied away from remarking about. That’s when I decided I’ll label such and such posts differently under how no sitting on the fence is allowed anymore on this blog – whether the bloggees or the blogger.

I think it has been said time and again, under no uncertain terms, that I intentionally refrain from reading contemporary romance. Yes, as always and therefore unsurprisingly, I have broken that self-issued rule a number of times; and not all those times have I felt like pulling my hair out in frustration. The times I did though, served as a good reminder to why I stayed away from them in the first place.

To the clueless, it’s because of this – a lot of them become increasingly soppy as the page number increases. Many of them build a story out of the romance itself while other people run around in the background. And some others just plain freak me out while the rest of the world inexplicably keep shipping them. This post deals with the last category.

The necessity to write this post was borne from how a lot of girls around me kept shipping this ridiculous couple in the Korean drama The Heirs. (Of course, while watching it, my hormones were raging because of my inherent talent to need to ship anything, so it was a herculean effort to keep my head straight and view the couple with the facts straight.) Poor Girl meets Rich Boy in America who is already engaged to another heiress. Rich Boy becomes obsessed with Distressed Damsel In Foreign Land (“Obsessed” is quite the apt word here) and he keeps following her around like a lost but demanding puppy, despite how his family is dead set against her. Finally, she admits she loves him too and a lot of issues get resolved and they get a happily-ever-after ending.

When watching the series, though, none of this hits you at first. It was only somewhere around the middle when I guessed the direction towards which this ship was headed did I realize my idiocy in getting carried away. The Forbidden Love angle plays out beautifully over the backdrop of heart-wrenching music and insert admirable directing and camera skills and BAM – you have an award-winner that has swept a mass of feminine hearts and dunked them in a sea of feels.

This is just an example among a whole host of them, whether portrayed in books or on TV. The ships that creeped me out generally starts thus – Drop-Dead-Gorgeous-Boy develops inexplicable sudden attraction (read obsession) with Small-Town-Girl and Girl suddenly starts seeing him everywhere. Then a book-specific plot treads upon the much-trodden roads named Knight-In-Shining-Armour-Just-Fucking-Dropped-Out-Of-Nowhere-And-I-Loved-The-Fact-That-He-Was-Stalking-Me and If-He-So-Much-As-Looks-At-You-He’s-Dead and Be-With-Me-Even-If-The-Earth-Cracks-Into-Two and so on.

We’re not all that stupid, we do keep a clear distance from relationships with WE ARE UNHEALTHY DO NOT IMITATE US labels like -
Ugh Cersei and Jaime and some twincest
The husband's cheating on the wife. Wife happens to be a closet psychopath.
She's his high school teacher who's married with kids. Yup.
And that's not all that make these fictional relationships unhealthy. They share other characteristic traits found in the less obvious unshippity ships.

Some say the pop culture has romanticised unhealthy relationships and I am pretty sure they’re right. Those of us who ship Draco Malfoy and Hermione, Edward-Bella or Jacob-Bella ships, Grey-Steele ships, and other ships that I shall leave unnamed thanks to my sucky memory, have been hypnotised by the writer’s or director’s spellcasting prowess. But unhealthy relationships in literature go way back and they have achieved cult status. Remember Heathcliff and Catherine in Wuthering Heights, the couple that tormented each other, who had you moaning around heartbroken? Or how in The Fountainhead we shipped Howard Roark and Dominique even after he “raped” her? Or how about Beauty and the Beast and how they planted the seed of Stockholm Syndrome in literature?

This post also begs the question – how do we classify a ship healthy or not? For me, this simple test works.
If you’re a straight girl reading this post, simply replace the heroine with yourself, subtract the hotness factor from the hero and replay the storyline, minus the feels, in your head. If you can still ship this new ship –

Else, you need to jump ship. Pronto.

P.S. – By the example given from The Heirs I do not mean to imply that it is not worth watching. PLEASE DO WATCH IT AND LIVE WITH ME IN LA-LA LAND WHERE CUTE BOYFRIENDS WHO LOVE YOU TOO MUCH ARE A-PLENTY. Plus, do watch out for parallel storylines and the tragic Second Male Lead Syndrome that will leave you afflicted with it like it did for yours truly.

P.P.SThe owner of this blog cannot believe how almost every single thing she writes these days invariably turn to Korean dramas and yet lives in denial of the fact that she is currently obsessed with them.

P.P.P.S – THAT IS SO NOT TRUE AND YOU KNOW IT. I AM SO NOT OBSESSED.

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