It’s not that I hate romance. I know it probably looks and sounds like I do, but I don’t. Truly. Like everyone, I have my preferences. Maybe it’s because I am literally the least romantic person I know, but romance just doesn’t make my list of favorites. This is not to be confused with me actively hating the entire genre.
That being said, there are some conventions trending within romance that unsettle me. Before you tell me that “It’s just a story,” or, “It doesn’t mean anything,” I disagree. There’s this thing called cultural narrative and, in a nutshell, it refers to the stories communities tell that help assign meaning to things. There’s more to it than that but for our purposes the simple explanation will do. Fairy tales and fables are popular examples of cultural narratives. Let’s for a moment ignore the watered down happily-ever-after versions of fairy tales that Disney tells and remind ourselves that the original versions of the same stories had a very different mood and significance. Generally, the purpose of the stories was to reinforce social norms, teach children what characteristics are valued or considered taboo, and often to teach moral lessons. You could argue that Disney is doing the same thing, but the norms, values, and lessons have shifted. What it all boils down to is that the stories we tell at the individual and societal level mean something.
You want to know what a society values, hopes for, dreams of? Look to the stories being told. Click & Tweet! What are the underlying themes? What message(s) are being transmitted? Why are particular stories being told? It’s not just entertainment, everyone has an agenda. True objectivity doesn’t exist. Our experiences, and the stories we tell about our experiences, inform our perceptions. In a very literal way our perception is our reality, which means that the way we think about things has a profound impact on our feelings, behaviors, and interactions with the greater world.
At this point I have to issue a very stern warning: if you’ve read Fallen, think of what follows as mandatory because Fallen probably isn’t what you think it is; if you haven’t read Fallen, continue at your own peril. I’ll be keeping them as vague and minimal as I can within the context of this post, but there will be spoilers. Waiting… Waiting… This is your opportunity to opt out if you want to remain surprised. Waiting… If you opt to wait, I strongly urge you to come back to this post after you’ve finished Fallen. Waiting… I am so serious. Waiting… Okay, last chance. Waiting…