September 10, 2015

Article at Authory

Is Romantic Fiction Unrealistic?

Why is it, I asked today, during an online conversation with a group of conservative Catholic women, that it is always romances (whether novels or films) that are thought to cause "far too many people to confuse fact and fiction"?

We never hear warnings that cozy mysteries will convince butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers to think they should start investigating murders on their own. Or that police procedurals will give us unrealistic expectations of real-life police. Or that legal thrillers will give us an inflated sense of our personal commitment to social justice. Only romances are thought to scramble women's brains so that they are either disappointed in their husband or disdainful of a boyfriend.

The response from participants was gracious, but I think it might have missed the mark. I was told that not many people dream of being detectives or solving crime, but we all dream of love, and that can cause us to mistake idealized depictions for the real thing.

But the thing is, while we may not aspire to be detectives, we do all desire to be acclaimed for our intelligence and our courage. We like to think that we would fight for justice; that, for example, we would be the lone juror who would turn an entire panel away from sending an innocent man to prison.

And, yet, we still don't see anyone claiming that cozy mysteries or police procedurals or legal thrillers have the potential to emotionally stunt their readers. Only romances, it seems, can cause women to go daffy with hyper-romanticized fantasies of luv, and then abuse the men in their lives with unfair comparisons to the alpha studs that real men could never compete with.

Are romances idealized depictions of love? Sure. And, yes again, the protagonists are also idealized—just as fictional amateur detectives, police officers, and lawyers are idealized versions of their real-life counterparts in the novels they star in.

What these romantic books and films offer is entertainment and emotional uplift. And while there will always be a few people here and there who might "try this stuff at home," I believe the vast majority of readers are very capable of distinguishing between fiction and real life.

(Image: Woman reading romance novel, Pixabay.)