On the Big Screen: 7 Lessons TV and Movies Have Taught Us

Whether you realize it or not, the media plays a huge role in socialization and affects what people in society believe to be true. Movies and TV shows have taught us a lot about relationships, people, gender and sex. Not all shows and movies portray these stereotypes, but a lot of them do. Being aware of the toxic, untrue lessons taught to us by certain media is important in order to dissect society, ourselves and what we believe to be true. Here are a few bad lessons movies and TV shows have taught us:


1. If boys/men try hard enoughno matter what they have donethe girl/woman will and should go back to him.

We always see in TV the infamous fight between couples when the man does something to hurt his partner, whether it be cheating, saying something wrong, etc. The storyline goes as follows: partner gets mad, they break up, the man doesn’t give up until their partner says yes to getting back together. If we view this as reality, we may end up in relationships that are toxic instead of respecting ourselves.  


2. If the relationship is real, there will be a tornado of emotionsgood and bad. 

We are taught from a very young age that if a relationship is real, there will be tons of emotions, and we should communicate everything no matter what level the emotions are at. In reality, it’s important to regulate our emotions in order to have productive conversation, in which you listen to the other person and address what they say instead of having a counterargument already planned and ready to argue. That is a key to a healthy relationship. It should also be noted that some people need space to think and to regulate emotions, and there is no time limit for that. 


3. You will fall in love after the first kiss. 

Every basic love story leads up to the infamous first kiss, particularly in Disney movies. We are shown that when we kiss the person we like, our world changes; birds fly all around, fireworks burst, our problems fly out the window and it is the happiest moment of our lives. First kisses are great, but we should not base our happiness off another person. In order to healthily love someone else, you need to love yourself first and know that you can do life on your own before you start a life with someone else. 


4. Jokes about objectifying women are funny, and if you don’t laugh, you’re a prude.

Jokes about women are everywhere in the media, especially on TV. For example, in How I Met Your Mother, the character Barney Stinson is notorious for finding attractive women and doing everything he can including lying in order to sleep with them. We see variations of this character in other shows as well. This teaches the people watching that it’s okay to treat women this way, and if their friends in the show go along with it, we should too. This normalizes the objectification of women and further perpetuates the patriarchy. 


5. Women’s sex organs are too complicated. 

We’re taught from a young age that the man of a heterosexual relationship is supposed to get the most enjoyment from sex. We are taught to have low standards and to not ask men for what we need. The truth is sex is supposed to be enjoyable for everyone. And women’s sex organs are less “complicated” once you get to know your way around. It’s important to know what you like for yourself and then teach your partner. 


6. When you’re upset, you should drink. 

Many times when a character on a TV show or movie is having a bad day, going through a breakup or gets into a fight with someone, the first thing they say is “I need to drink” or “I need a beer to get through this.” This teaches teens and young adults to turn to substances when they are going through a hard time or when they are in a boring situation. The facts are that alcohol or any other substance may take your perceived negative feeling away for a short period of time but not in the long run; getting into a pattern of turning to substances can lead to a dangerous path of substance abuse or addiction. Instead, eat your ice cream and watch a sad movie, talk to a friend or journal. 


7. Marriage is awful. 

Marriage on TV is generally portrayed as a miserable and unwanted experience. It includes expressions like “you think that’s awful, just wait until you’re married” and insinuations that tell us that marriage is sexless, involves giving up your freedom (especially if you’re a hetero man), and that you will inevitably get annoyed and unhappy with each other. These are all things that may be true in an unhealthy marriage; however this should not be the example we show to people who are not yet married. Marriage— if you choose to partake in it—should not be something to dread, and it definitely does not mean your sex life is over. A healthy marriage involves good communication, continuing with your own interests, love, intimacy, trust, respect, compromise and consideration.