Finding true love has always been a challenge for both men and women. The idea of finding that person who is the "one" has led people to revert to non-traditional methods of searching. This has caused traditional romance to slowly become what some consider as radical romance. In this class, we have analyzed a few sources which portray romance that is not necessarily defined as traditional. Knocked up, The 40 year old Virgin, and Myspace.com share a common theme in that finding true love doesn't need to be an impossible journey which can lead to disappointment and sorrow. In Knocked up, we're introduced to a couple who conceive a child during a random night of drunken sex. This calamity leads into a roller coaster of emotional dilemmas, which inevitably ends with the couple falling in love. The 40 year old Virgin depicts a man that is socially withdrawn and sexually absent who in a twist of fate finds true love in the arms of a single mother. Myspace.com along with other social networks falsifies the accuracy of who people are and the basis of socializing. Many people view these examples as a logical comparison to current social and romantic realities. However, being a social outcast or accidentally impregnating someone rarely leads to finding romance, especially if that romance is found through a website. These are false ideologies introduced by modern television and technology. Searching for true love and romance has always been the core aspect of what relationships are built upon, and it does not include the situations depicted in these specific sources.
Most relationships begin when two people find something in common that they both can relate to. This usually develops after sharing ideas and introducing one another to personal characteristics. If the relationship progresses to a certain level, courting and eventually having children become a part of this traditional romance. In Knocked up, this chain of events is reversed. The movie starts off with the audience being introduced to Ben, an unemployed pot smoker who rarely socializes with anyone besides his roommates. He then meets a girl, Allison, in a club and they begin to drink uncontrollably. They eventually end up in Allison's house where they partake in sexual intercourse. After several weeks, they learn that Allison is pregnant. From there, they begin to develop different emotional stages, first considering getting married then realizing they are not compatible. Eventually, they become accustomed to each other and fall in love. This is a false representation of how relationships are built. In today's society, abortion has become an ordinary solution to similar situations. Yet, in the movie this idea is vaguely introduced and immediately discarded. In the scene where Allison is talking to her mother, Betty, Allison's mother recommends that she "take care of it". "BETTY: Alison, just take care of it. Take care of it. Move on. What’s gonna happen with your career?" The fact that her mother introduces this topic without actually mentioning the word gives the impression that having an abortion is not accepted. However statistics show that approximately 3,700 abortions are performed on a daily basis. And 52% of women obtaining abortions in the U.S. are younger than 25, which is the same age category that Allison is in.
The question then is why are women getting abortions? This movie gives the viewer the notion that having a baby in an unusual circumstance does not justify having an abortion. Even though Ben is an unemployed pot smoker, unfit to raise a child and Allison is a young woman with a career to think about, having a child is more acceptable than getting an abortion. However, statistically 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient) whereas only 1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest and 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems. It is obvious that Ben's and Allison's situation falls into the category of both unwanted and inconvenient. In reality, most couples faced with this dilemma would almost in all cases choose abortion.
Nevertheless, some may argue that abortion is out of the question and should never be considered. This belief is perfectly acceptable, but it is not the only option. If two people, whether in a serious relationship or not, should not be forced to create a false romance due to an unplanned pregnancy. Some may ask how often is an unplanned pregnancy a factor for couples. Well according to Guttmacher Institute in 2001, 49 percent of pregnancies in the United States were unintended. The unintended pregnancy rate was 51 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. This means that almost half of every couple who conceive a child did not plan it. Imagine if every one of these couples decided to stay together and raise the child as a traditional family. In a realistic world, this is not the case. In 2006, 12.9 million families in the U.S. were headed by a single-parent, 80% of which were headed by a female. This comes to show that if Knocked up were to depict actual life, the movie would have ended within the first 15 minutes of it beginning. Because it is not inevitable to avoid an unplanned pregnancy, but if society has shown us anything, it's that women do not succumb to an emotional commitment until they are certain that the man is the "one" for them. Therefore, Knocked up gives men a false ideology of how to find love and gives women a false rationale to what romance really is. Being socially withdrawn and unemployed is not a recipe to finding true love, and being sexually inexperienced only makes it that much harder.
Many people define romance as being directly correlated with sex. That is to say a relationship that lacks a sexual connection is bound to fail. Therefore, many people associate one's ability to be involved in a romantic relationship with someone based on their sexual knowledge. So when should one begin this expedition in becoming sexually and emotionally experienced to be in a relationship? Well in the movie The 40 year old Virgin were shown a 40-year old man named Andy who has lived his whole life without ever being in a relationship with a woman, both emotionally and sexually. He spends his day collecting action figures and playing online poker, rarely leaving his house. He is suddenly invited to play poker with a few of his co-workers, where he mistakenly reveals that he is a virgin. From that point, his co-workers decide that getting him "laid" is their main priority. After several failed attempts to meet women, a very attractive single mother walks into the store where Andy works and gives him her number. From that point, we see Andy transform from a childish 40 year old man who collects action figures and video games into a sophisticated man. Eventually, Trish finds out that Andy is a virgin and finds it attractive. She then falls deeply in love with him and they partake in sexual intercourse, where Andy loses his virginity.
Even though this movie is a comedy and its humor derives from the misfortunes of a 40 year old virgin, the fact that the movies' ending is turned into a romance, it is not very realistic. Instead, it sets a false hope of what is required to find an emotional connection with someone. Different cultures and religions advise young teens that sex is something that should be saved for marriage. However, recent media and sociological influences make it almost impossible to practice abstinence from sex. Recent studies show that the median age at first intercourse is 16.9 years for boys and 17.4 years for girls. The main reason why teenagers feel that they need to have sex is because society has turned sexual proficiency into a crucial factor in being accepted. Therefore, it is very unlikely that someone will respond to a person who has lived almost half their life without experiencing sex. This is why Andy is portrayed as a very immature adult, utilizing his time with video games and action figures. Some may say that withdrawing yourself from any social interaction causes u to isolate yourself, mainly spending time playing video games and similar activities. Whereas the argument to that is spending time playing video games is what causes people to be socially inactive. It's very similar to the chicken and the egg dilemma.
In other words, Andy's situation brings up the topic of whether his virginity was caused by his social skills or were they a result of his virginity. In the movie, were shown a flashback of Andy's encounters with women and his attempts at sex. It is obvious he is inexperienced and hesitant. After being humiliated several times, he eventually gives up on the whole idea of having sex. The ironic part is that without trying, he somehow finds the one person who accepts his lack of experience. This is a misleading ideology of how real romance is found. People devote much time and effort to create a presentable figure in hopes of finding someone. Some even resort to using fake profiles and avatars, via the internet to make this possible.
Socializing has always been an attempt to increase the amount of relationships one has, whether it's a friendly relationship or a romantic one. This usually begins in the early teens, starting from junior high school. A regular morning can take up to two hours for a teenager to get dressed and ready to leave the house. On average, women spend 76 minutes getting ready on Mondays —with almost a third of that spent on their hair—18 minutes on make-up, 16 minutes trying on different combinations of clothes and the rest taken up by showering and washing. This figure is not very different with men. Imagine if all of that time can be eliminated. That's where social networking websites come into play. Myspace.com has been one of the most popular social websites, with over 185 million registered users. It's is very simple to use, requiring an email address, name and age. The site allows you to customize your profile including your personal hobbies, interests, music, and a photo of your choice. Not only that, but it allows you to create a variety of posts that display your opinion of almost any topic. Once a profile has been created, the user can begin to search for people that he/she knows. This allows social interaction without having to leave your computer desk. At one point or another, the user will begin to add people who are either friends of friends, or random strangers in hopes to expand their social web.
There are many aspects of this form of socializing that create not only a false image, but also a false basis on which relationships are formed. Ideally, the website allows the user to create a realistic persona based solely on the user's character. However, in many instances people begin to stretch the truth. It can be anything as simple as the correct age to having a different picture. So why are people socializing with others while using a false profile? Some users admit to the fact that having a MySpace account is solely to increase the amount of friends one has and to gain recognition for simple things like a picture. Why else do you think that MySpace users spend so much time updating their MySpace layouts, commenting other profiles with MySpace glitters and sending out MySpace bulletin after bulletin asking friends to "Comment my pics!" Without your MySpace friends, your MySpace profile is nothing more than a lame web page. Therefore, a user would rather have 1000 fake friends based on a fake character than to have 100 real friends based on his/her real characteristics. This might seem like a harmless motive for using this website, but certain people have taken it to the next level. Online dating has been growing for the past few decades and social networks have given people a free opportunity to take advantage.
Many teenagers who use social websites like MySpace or Facebook are either looking for a relationship or looking to rekindle a previous one. This motive is not as harmless. Beginning a relationship using comments and messages does not portray the actual characteristics of the user. Many people rate a person not solely based on conversation but also on a physical standard. This is very hard to accomplish through a website, especially when it is possible that the profile is not real. One instance that many people are aware of is the tragic suicide of Megan Meier. Megan was a thirteen year old girl who was befriended by a boy named Josh Evans. He claimed to be a 16-year-old boy who lived in the same neighborhood and was homeschooled. They became close friends over a period of a month, until Josh began to send her cruel messages stating he didn't want to be friends anymore. After several weeks of this cyber-bullying, Megan hung herself. After a few months, the Meier family learned that the profile was created by a neighborhood mom who was upset about Megan and her daughter not being friends anymore. This situation not only portrays a false impersonation, but evidently a fatal outcome.
Social websites were created in efforts to increase social skills and how people interact with one another. It allowed people to express themselves freely without feeling self-conscious. Some even use the websites to interact with people who they don't see regularly due to circumstance or geographic location. However, it has caused people to lose the basic necessary skills needed to interact with someone. Being able to approach a person in a bar or a coffee house has always been a challenge for some people, but it seems lately people would rather go sit at a coffee house with a laptop. So does having more friends on a website really increase your social skills? NO. All it does is allow you to surround yourself with the mentality that people on your so-called "friends" list are actually people who you have spent time befriending.
In conclusion, radical romance does exist in today's society but it is not depicted in any of the sources we have discussed in class. Yes these are situations that come a long way from what we consider as traditional romance, but taken into consideration current social norms, they do not represent reality. Knocked up depicts a relationship that is sparked due to an unplanned pregnancy. In reality, this is considered a radical method in starting a relationship, but it is not realistic. Many women choose to have an abortion to prevent having a child that will interfere with their daily lives. That is to say even if the couple is in a loving relationship, having a child that is unplanned will most likely result in an abortion. Knocked up gives the audience a different point of view, one that is much more unrealistic. It is obvious that neither Alison nor Ben are fit to be parents, much less be parents together. In The 40 year old Virgin, we see a man who is in his early 40's that has never been in a sexual relationship with a woman. Yet he is idolized and eventually given the opportunity to fall in the arms of a beautiful single mother. This is unrealistic on a few different levels. One, it is very rare to see someone reach the midpoint of their life without having sex, when society makes it almost impossible to graduate high school without losing one's virginity. Two, for a man to be socially absent and sexually inactive and find true love is a very big stretch. Andy is portrayed as a very childish adult who spends most of his time playing with action figures and video games. Then were introduced to the false representation of what it means to socially network. MySpace.com virtually allows anyone to create profile with any information he/she desires. This can be done to increase the ease at which people interact with one another or to create a relationship bases solely on cyber conversations. This freedom to create a cyber-profile very commonly leads to false impersonations and weak structural relationships. Overall, love can be found in many different ways and some are not as traditional as others. But current media gives misleading methods on which this can be accomplished.
1. The 40 Year old Virgin. Judd Apatow. Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd. 2005.
2. Knocked Up. Judd Apatow. Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl and Paul Rudd. 2007.
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