I’m trying not to be bitter.
But, it’s really hard.
See, my sister and I watched this hallmark movie last night, When Calls the Heart. It’s not the greatest of movies, but it was fun and there were some good parts.
Then, since the movie was okay, Danielle and I decided to start watching the TV show they based off of it. I knew that they had changed things from the movie to the show, but I didn’t realize how much.
See, there was this nice character who I liked, who the main character liked. Who was nice, and encouraging, and a great match for the main character. But, apparently Hallmark decided he wasn’t good enough. They replaced him with a new character. One the main character can’t stand and who feels rather the same about her. In the first two episodes (which is all I have seen thus far) they fight nearly every time they’re on screen together.
Because according to the media today, that’s love.
Why? Why does love have to start with hate? Why are all the good shows and movies and books featured around this idea that the couple has to start out hating each other?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good they-met-and-sparks-flew story. Love. Them. But, they’re also getting old. Why do all the good relationships have to start with the couple hating each other? Why do we have to make they fight in order for them to love each other.
Now, on the other end of the scale, I’ll be honest and say I can’t stand love at first sight stories. Well, some are okay, but the whole idea of them falling in love as soon as they met and then spending the entire book mooning over how much they love each other isn’t my thing. That’s part of the reason why I still haven’t finished the first Heroes of Olympus book. Great story but the two main characters are driving me nuts!
But, why can’t we meet somewhere in the middle? Why can’t they start off as friends and have something grow out of that? Why can’t they be mildly indifferent toward each other before they realize they’re falling for each other?
Part of the reason I love Jane Austen’s Emma is because it’s a really well-done story about characters who are great friends and then they end up being more than that. Emma doesn’t hate Mr. Knightley and he doesn’t hate her. Quite the contrary. They’re friends, dear, true friends who realize that they’ve fallen in love.
In Elizabeth Eulberg’s Better Off Friends her main characters, Macallan and Levi, hit it off right away. They’re close as friends can be until the end when they realize their friendship has become more. Sure, they disagree and they fight like people are prone to do, but they never hate each other. Their relationship doesn’t have to start out with them fighting and angry and upset.
I think it’s actually dangerous for us to portray love as starting with hate. Because, in real life, is it really wise to marry the guy you do nothing but fight with? Sure, I know the message of Pride and Prejudice is that they fight because they don’t look beyond themselves. Same with Beauty and the Beast, they fight until they look past appearances into who the person really is. Which is powerful.
But, sometimes, when you look past appearances, the person still turns out to be a jerk. Or, not someone you’re compatible with. But, what the media teaches us is that as long as we feel great when we kiss, that’s all good.
I’m probably going to make some enemies here, but bear with me- in BBC’s television show Robin Hood, I in no way, shape, or form wanted Robin and Marian to end up together. Because all they do is fight or kiss. They say they love each other but they never show it.
But, it’s love because they say it is. Because when they kiss it’s passionate and beautiful. And, that’s all that matters.
Now, I’m not saying every story that features character who dislike each other before they fall in love is bad. There are plenty of them that I can name that I love. That are good, and well done, and have strong, positive messages.
But, if that’s all we’re feeding people, that’s where the danger comes in. If all we’re telling people is that if you hate him or her first and do nothing but tear each other down, they realize they aren’t so bad- usually after you kiss them- then it’s okay.
But, I’m pretty sure my mama taught me that kind of love is really called lust. And, it’s not really love at all.
If the characters can’t support each other, encourage them, or make the other a better person, they have no business being together. I’m not saying I feed into the whole “I’m not complete without a significant other” hype, but I also believe a relationship should change you for the better. Sure, maybe you’re complete without the other person, but when they come into your life, they should still encourage you to be a complete person.
They shouldn’t tear you down with their words, or their actions, or their attitude toward you. Yes, they can correct you; yes, they can challenge you; yes, they can question your words or actions. But, are their words coming out of love or hate? The “Badly done, Emma” scene is only as beautiful and painful as it is because it comes from love, not hate (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read or watch a version of Emma right this second)
As a writer, we should understand the power of words. Understand that they potentially have the power to change lives- for better or for worse.
So, why do we then use those words to write about characters who destroy others with their words in the name of love?
Shouldn’t we be using our words to write characters who build-up, who encourage, who demonstrate what true love really is? Shouldn’t we stop complaining about what the media is doing wrong and instead start flooding the media with that is right?
Because, I, for one, want my books to change people. Not hurt them.
So, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have some plots to go rewrite.
I’ll see you on Friday, for Candor Questions!
How about you? Are there any favorite stories of yours that don’t feature a Love-at-First-Hate relationship? Have you written any of these kinds of stories? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts?