Every Movie Has a Love Story, and I Have a Problem With It

I hate romance movies. It doesn’t matter who’s in the cast, where the setting is, or how good it is because the plot is always the same. The guy always gets the girl. Maybe someone dies in the process, maybe some tears are shed, maybe someone goes off to war, but the theme is always the same. It’s cheesy and unrealistic. So imagine the disappointment I have when I watch movies of other genres and still am tortured with romance plots. It’s so hard nowadays to find a movie that doesn’t include a heteronormative and repetitive romance plot.

Ready Player One, a science fiction movie, contains a love story. Black Panther, a superhero action movie, contains a love story. Movies that aren’t romance movies often contain romantic storylines, including Isle of Dogs, The Meg, Baby Driver, The Greatest Showman, Hidden Figures, Despicable Me, The Lego Movie, Hellboy, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, How to Train Your Dragon, and so much more.

Not many people like horror movies as much as I do, but I have good reason for why mainly only watch horror movies. There’s no romance. I mean, some movies (like every single Friday the 13th) contain sex, but there’s too much death to start a relationship.

I realized that I needed to write about Hollywood’s obsession with romance when I was watching one of the worst movies of this century: Frankenfish. (Listen, I have no Wi-Fi and my movie options were limited). The plot is simple: some scientists made a new species of murderous CGI fish, which have taken home in this river in the south. A medical examiner enters the scene to investigate the death of the first victim to these fish, and the cast finds there are many fish as they are killed off. The part that angered me so much was the ending, which showed the protagonist and only surviving person besides him (a female who used to have a crush on him, of course) share a kiss. The woman had just lost her father, mother, uncle, ex boyfriend, and childhood home.

So while the two of them are covered in bloody fish guts and are surrounded by dead bodies, they kiss and fall for each other. Ah yes, it does sound like such a romantic scene. My point is that a lot of the times, romantic plots are just shoved into movies for no reason. Ready Player One would have been just as good without the protagonist’s love interest, but Hollywood needed a white heterosexual couple to star in the film. The Greatest Showman’s inclusion of Zendaya’s and Zac Efron’s relationship is not at all related to the life of P.T. Barnum, who the movie is modeled after. It’s the same stunt Titanic pulled, which took a real tragedy and added the fake stories of Jack and Rose to make an award-winning film.

The problem goes beyond just casting white straight people to play these couples, but this trend teaches movie audiences to value romantic relationships more than individual ability. The superhero can’t beat the villain without kissing the damsel is distress, the girl can’t find happiness and love herself until the man of her dreams loves her first, and the story isn’t over until true love is found. Movies teach us that being single is being incomplete by mainstreaming romance, and I’m tired of it. What effect does this have on little boys who want to be Spiderman but can’t get Mary Jane? What about little girls who want to save the day, win the competition, or defeat the villain, but she’s told that she can’t do it without the strength of a man?

This Valentine’s Day, I’m tired of having people list the best romantic comedies that are worth watching, and I’m not going on this rant because I’m a bitter single lesbian. Movies have enforced this societal belief that you’re not capable of your full potential, of reaching the end of the movie, unless you’ve found true love. It’s just not true. You can solve the mystery, stop the killer, defeat the villain, win the competition, and have a happily ever after with just yourself. To celebrate breaking this love stigma around Valentine’s Day 2019, this February watch a movie with no love story and remember that you’re a star by yourself. Here, I’ll name a few good ones.

Ocean’s 8 (crime), The Avengers (superhero/action), Kill Bill Vol. 1 (action/thriller), The Incredibles 2 (superhero/adventure), Annihilation (science fiction/thriller), Coco (family film), Babadook (thriller), Hush (thriller), and 10 Cloverfield Lane (thriller).