Romance Isn’t What’s in the Movies, Teenagers Say

Bouquet of roses. Candle-lit dinner. Mood-setting music. A freshly-cleaned outfit. The perfect date.

Seen in many movies, books and how-to articles, the media seems to have a strong grasp on societies’ expectations for romance and love. But New York City youth say the depiction of romance and relationships in media and pop-culture is over-exaggerated and gives fake impressions of relationships in real life. They also say that the opinions of young adults are easily swayed by what is said in the media.

“Media has that power, whatever they say, people just listen and they end up being controlled by what they say,” said Anna Lang, 13, a student at Lab School for Collaborative Studies, located on the west side of Manhattan.

Some also say relationships in movies and celebrity relationships in the news are overly dramatic and inconsistent with reality.

“The media makes it seem that relationships will always fail and it makes it seem that in someway, someone will [come to] ruin the relationship,” says Brittany Waldren, 16, a student at Baruch College Campus High School. “I feel like all they talk about is failing relationships and how hard it is to have one. Failing shouldn’t be the focus, being open and honest should be. It wouldn’t be hard then.”

Some youth also feel that media has become a manipulative tool and teenagers are too easily influenced by it.

“I do believe that the media has an effect on the people around us. I’ve seen students at my school freak out over some ‘impending zombie apocalypse,’ after some guy bit a hobo’s face off,” Melissa He, 16, a student at Baruch College Campus High School said.

But Paul Levison, a professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University, says young adults are not that easily influenced by media and can comprehend things at the same level adults can.

“When you’re 12 years old, you have adult level mentality and you have less experience. Obviously someone who is 32 years old has more experience than someone who’s 12 years old, but in terms of the ability to think it’s pretty much the same,” he said.

He also says that relationships seen in movies and television are all relatable and it is part of a person’s natural instinct to feel the need to be loved, but there are some forms of exaggeration in the media.

“Although there might be a superficial influence that any trend among pop-culture might have, in the end people still need human contact and they still need relationships and therefore romance is still part of their lives,” he said.

Samantha Young Chan, 16, a student at BCCHS, said she thinks the media should focus on issues that affect the world rather than the celebrity affairs and relationships that are done for publicity. In recent news, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ divorce had generated an overwhelming amount of attention from both the media and the public.

“I think it’s over-exaggerated. It makes people delusional as to what they should be experiencing, which isn’t right. I think the media should focus on actual important news, not stuff like celebrity marriages,” Chan said.

Popular dating shows like “The Bachelorette,” give people a fantasy, one that makes them think relationships are dramatic and beautiful. But in reality, relationships are not as picture perfect as they seem, according to Waldren.

“It seems wonderful and like something that everyone should be experiencing,” she said. ”It looks perfect, but in reality, nothing is perfect because not all relationships last forever.”

A 2010 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that analyzes health-related data, found that there has been an increase in the amount of time teenagers spend utilizing media since 2004, from six hours and 21 minutes to seven hours and 38 minutes. With many outlets to choose from, young adults are exposed to a lot of information.

Ann Niles, 17, a student at Lab School for Collaborative Studies said, “Everyone is online all the time, it’s hard to avoid things like this when it’s right in your face.”
Anna Lang, 13, feels that the romance in novels and movies are too simplified and doesn’t reveal the complexities in real life.

“Relationships are complicated already, I don’t want other people to show me what is right or wrong,” she said. “I just want to do my own thing.”

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