Fake Love

I recently started reading Chuck Klosterman’s “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” which, if you didn’t know, is a collection of humorous observations he has made about life.  The first essay starts out: “No woman will ever satisfy me.  I know that now, and I would never try to deny it.  But this is actually okay, because I will never satisfy a women, either.”

He then proceeds to talk about how society has been presented, through our entertainment, with a false image of love.  We have been brainwashed by the When Harry Met Sallys and the You’ve Got Mails into thinking that love acts or looks a certain way.  It’s what he calls “fake love” and he says it is everywhere–movies, books, music, television.

“Coldplay songs deliver an amorphous, irrefutable interpretation of how being in love is supposed to feel, and people find themselves wanting that feeling for real.  They want men to adore them like Lloyd Dobler would, and they want women to think like Aimee Mann, and they expect all their arguments to sound like Sam Malone and Diane Chambers.  They think everything will work out perfectly in the end (just like it did for Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones), and they don’t stop believing, because Journey’s Steve Perry insists we should never do that.  In the nineteenth century, teenagers merely aspired to have a marriage that would be better than that of their parents; personally, I would never be satisfied unless my marriage was as good as Cliff and Clair Huxtable’s.

Pundits are always blaming TV for making people stupid, movies for desensitizing the world to violence, and rock music for making kids take drugs and kill themselves.  These things should be the least of our worries.  The main problem with mass media is that it makes it impossible to fall in love with any acumen of normalcy.  There is no “normal,” because everybody is being twisted by the same sources simultaneously.  You can’t compare your relationship with the playful couple who lives next door, because they’re probably modeling themselves after Chandler Bing and Monica Geller.  Real people are actively trying to live like fake people, so real people are no less fake.”

I think he is right on the money.  I know that certain movies I’ve seen, books I’ve read, and songs I’ve heard have contributed significantly to my idea of “Mr. Right.”  And they make it hard to be satisfied with something less, which everything will be, because my ideals are based on something that doesn’t exist.

I had never thought about it quite like that before.

9 thoughts on “Fake Love

  1. I agree, although this shouldn't make us bitter about marriage. My marriage is easily the most satisfying relationship I've ever had, but it isn't very glamorous. 🙂
    I don't really believe there is "THE ONE" person who is your perfect match and fate will bring you together. That's actually kind of dangerous because if you're married but fall in love with someone else, what's to say that other person wasn't THE ONE and you just made a mistake? No, you find someone you love and that you're compatible with and you CHOOSE to commit to that person.

  2. "Do I listen to pop music because I'm depressed or am I depressed because I listen to pop music?" – High Fidelity
    True in a different way. I don't know. I know my relationship will never resemble that of, oh, I don't know … the characters in Music and Lyrics but let's look at the examples used: Harry Met Sally, Say Anything, Cheers
    All of those relationships broke up at least once – for realistic reasons (ex. Cheers). At least they are better then 1. We're dating, we might be in love 2. Oh no, there's some minor, easily explainable complication that both of us over re-act to 3. Montage of sad walking around with gooey pop song 4. That minor complication won't take away our happily ever after b/c I love you too much!

    • Amen.
      I outwardly hate that moment in movies where the cheesy music plays and the two characters stare out at the sky. Why do they do this? It's not like everyone in the audience is genuinely concerned as to whether or not the characters are going to get together in the end–just end it already.

  3. Really makes you think about what marriage used to be like. We can go back to the time of arranged marriages, and wonder how anyone could be happy in such an arrangement. But "happy" had a different meaning then, didn't it? And people talked about falling in love eventually with the mate chosen for them. Is this because they *had* to stay together? Divorce was unheard of. So you dealt with it. Live together and make the best of it, and in the process you find out that your spouse is wonderful in his/her own way.
    On a different, but related, tangent, divorce being so easy may be part of the downfall of the success of marriages. If it's easy to just get out when things are a little rough instead of trying to work it out, why not just get out? Of course, there ARE reasons to get out, like abuse and such, but again looking at our media, if Britney can be married for just a few hours, why not everyone, right?
    I saw a special on one of those tv news shows last week about a community of polygamists living in Utah. They were from a special sect of Mormons who still follow that custom. The teens of the community were interviewed about being teens in their situation. Of course there was the discussion about being one of many wives, having more than one wife, etc. They were asked about dances…they all went to dances. They all listened to hip-hop. Not a single one had had sex. And they all expected their families and their communities to choose their spouse(s) for them. They had the choice to say 'no' if they weren't happy with the choice, but none of them would ever date their prospective mate. They trusted their community to provide them with a good match. It was really interesting.
    It's not just fake love that we see in the media. It's fake looks, fake expectations, fake everything. It really takes a discerning eye to sift through the garbage presented to us to find the grains of truth and worth in what we're seeing. Most of us have not been taught how to do that. Perhaps none of us have. That's why advertising works.
    Another thought I have…we seek this 'perfection' in our friendships as well. I see so many people who have the attitude "I can't be friends with you" because of some difference in opinion or lifestyle. Why should someone's sexual orientation matter when you have all these other things in common? What about their race? Or their political affiliations? Hmmm…this sounds like a good question for my LJ! Just because my religious viewpoints are not the same as someone else's, does that mean we can't be friends? Of course it doesn't, but we are led to believe that all our relationships should follow this 'perfect' model.
    Great post, Teri!

    • I'm actually not opposed to arranged marriages. I think we have blinders on in regards to ourselves. Add that blindness to the old saying "love is blind" and it's no wonder the divorce rate is so high. I think friends and family could be relied upon to make accurate judgments in regards to your mate.
      Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciated them.

      • Although I'd never want an arranged marriage, I think you make a good point. If your friends and family don't think it's a good match and your friends and family aren't usually complete idiots, you should probably listen to what they have to say.

  4. Well, I guess I'm a hopeless romantic, but I don't buy it — at least not totally. While I agree that sometimes the "love" they show in the movies is not realistic and much more about sex and a few heart flutterings than anything else, I do think that some of the relationships do have a base in reality. The Harry/Sally thing, for example — sure, the characters are over exagerated but the idea is just that two friends ended up falling in love and getting married. So what? That happens all the time — to me and Keith, for example. And they spend the whole movie talking about how people aren't perfect and marriages take work. That doesn't sound fake to me.
    None of the examples given are really about perfect relationships, it's just that the problems have to fit within the constraints of the media they are presented in. I think most people understand that and don't take "the Bings" to be a model for their own life — though they might be able to use it as a talking point to discuss real issues with their spouse. And if this person really believed that they wanted a Huxtable marriage…well, I'd venture to say that most people would think that was strange and sad. Media couples are just a window through which we can see parts of real life relationships, emphasized for comedy or just to make a point, and squeezed into the time frame available. I don't know anyone who doesn't understand that.
    Now, as far as little things shaping your view of what love is…well, if it's true, I don't see anything wrong with it. Did I marry a funny guy because I always fell for the funny guys I saw on TV, or am I just naturally attracted to funny guys? I'm not sure it matters — I just think I was exposed to that type of person more through media, but even without it would probably have the same opinions. Did my husband first tell me he loved me when the snow just started falling after a Christmas party with both of us dressed to the nines because a movie told him it would be romantic? Who cares, it doesn't make it any less beautiful and he probably would have come up with it anyway, given that he's a sap.
    All I'm saying (in a long rambling fashion) is that I don't think we take unrealistic love ideas from most media, and the little that we do pick up if anything just give us cute ideas for our loved ones, or reveal things we eventually would have figured out anyway. Just like any art form, it tells us something about ourselves in how we react to it. And if my hubby brings me roses tonight because a movie said it was romantic — yay, flowers!

  5. You make a valid argument. I think it just depends on the person and how far they go with the image that they are presented by the media and such. It's all subjective.

What do you think?