Romantic comedies – the genre that has been around for generations and grows more popular every year. They are enjoyable, light-hearted films that often bring a smile to our faces and are a great way of unwinding after a stressful day. But have you ever stopped to think about how the romantic comedy genre reflects the changing social norms in our world? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how romantic comedies show that attitudes and expectations in love and relationships are shifting.
1. The History of Romantic Comedies
Romantic comedies have been around for decades, and during that time, their stories have often reflected the changing social norms of the times. The evolution of these films shows just how much the world has changed, and how comedy has adapted alongside it.
- 1950s: From Lust and Innocence
- 1960s: Chasing After Dreams and Fun
- 1970s: From Heartache to Hope
- 1980s: From Romance to Rejection
- 1990s: The Power of Love
- 21st Century: The New Normal
- Historically, romantic comedies had focused on a predominantly male lead pursuing a female companion, but modern ones are beginning to focus on women who take control of their romantic lives. In this instance, the lead female character directly seeks out the male lead and actively pursues him, often taking on stereotypical male traits to attain her goal.
- In contrast, many male characters in romantic comedies today are portrayed as actively pursuing romantic relationships. This challenges traditional gender roles and gender dynamics, suggesting that men should not be ashamed of expressing their feelings and pursuing women.
- Romantic comedies are also challenging the long-held societal belief that single individuals should be seen as inadequate or incomplete. In today’s films, the lead is often portrayed as content and happy despite not being in a relationship – suggesting that it is entirely ok to be single and remain so.
- Romantic comedies today often embrace diverse relationships – featuring same-sex couples, interracial couples, and those of different ages and backgrounds. This speaks to the idea that all forms of love should be accepted and celebrated, regardless of what society may dictate.
- The Casualisation of Interaction: Physical interaction is now shown in a more casual and less formal way in many romantic comedies. Couples now touch each other more than they used to in a romantic setting, for example, couples now show more public displays of affection (PDA) than was common in the past. This signifies a relaxation of physical restraint and a more carefree attitude toward physical intimacy.
- Strategies of Physical Interaction: Physical interaction is no longer limited to just holding hands or giving chaste kisses. Romantic comedies show characters exchanging more overt displays of affection - from long passionate kisses to cuddling and tender embraces. This level of exchange reflects a growing sense of comfort in physical interaction without it being seen as too forward.
- Hyperbolised Physical Expression: Romance comedies tend to globlamilise physical expression – exaggerating physical interactions and making them more comical or enjoyable to watch. This signals a carefree attitude toward physical expression and implies it should be no big deal.
The early romantic comedies of the 1950s focused on the tension between the repression of the times and the smoldering passions that lay just beneath the surface. Films like Roman Holiday exemplify this period, as a yawning gulf of differences is bridged with love. This decade set the tone for what would come in the future, as old conventions are challenged and social mores are rewritten.
With the advent of the sexual revolution, the 1960s saw a shift in the focus of romantic comedies. Films such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s depicted a world of glamor and excitement that was far removed from the prim and proper facility of the 1950s. Women were shown as more liberated and in control of their own destinies, and men were not always the white knight in shining armor.
The 1970s saw a shift in romantic comedies towards more complex themes. Films like Annie Hall and The Goodbye Girl featured protagonists whose lives were full of heartache and difficulty, but eventually blossomed into hope. The idea that love could still succeed in the face of great obstacles was a major theme during this time.
The 1980s saw a reaction against the overly romanticized movies of the previous decades, and a new generation of films emerged. Films like Say Anything and When Harry Met Sally featured protagonists who had their hearts broken, but eventually found solace in each other. The idea of true love being worth fighting for was expressed in a whole new way.
The 1990s saw a return to the feel-good stories of the 1950s, but with a modern twist. Movies like Sleepless in Seattle and Good Will Hunting featured protagonists who struggled to accept love into their lives, but eventually discovered the power of love. These films showed that despite all the hardships life has to offer, with love, anything is possible.
The 21st century has seen a return to the romantic comedies of the 1980s and 1990s, albeit with a modern twist. Films like Crazy, Stupid, Love and Silver Linings Playbook featured protagonists who needed to break away from the traditional ideas of society, and find strength in themselves. Here, love isn’t always the answer – but it is still something to aspire to.
In conclusion, romantic comedies have evolved over the decades and are still evolving today. From the repression of the 1950s, to the modern-day idea that self-love is the key, these films reflect the changing norms of society and act as a powerful reflection of our times. Although the stories may be different, the common thread of love is timeless, and will remain a powerful force in the decades to come.
2. Examining the Representation of Social Norms in Rom-Coms
Romantic comedies are one of the most popular movie genres, and have been for decades. But, over time, their portrayal of love, courtship, and relationships has changed drastically. This is due in large part to changing social norms and attitudes, both in America and around the world.
Changing Attitudes Toward Gender Roles
In the 1940s and 50s, rom-coms portrayed traditional gender roles, where the man would pursue the woman until she finally acquiesced after some hesitation. These cinematic archetypes showed the man as the leader of the relationship and the woman as the one who had to be won over. By the 21st century, these roles had changed dramatically. Women were portrayed as strong, independent, and capable of leading the romantic relationship. This shift was especially seen in the story lines of romantic comedies such as The Proposal, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Crazy Rich Asians.
More Open Attitudes Toward Sexuality and Gender Identity
In the past, love stories in films were almost always limited to heterosexual couples, and LGBTQ+ characters were almost non-existent. But, in the last twenty years, movie makers have begun to include characters from all backgrounds and sexual orientations. Movies such as Love, Simon, The Half of It, and The Hurricane Heist have featured prominent LGBTQ+ protagonists and love stories. Now, LGBTQ+ characters can be found in movies of all genres, and their presence and acceptance in general society is more visible than ever before.
Changing Attitudes Toward Interracial Relationships
Rom-coms also reflect changing attitudes toward interracial relationships. For much of modern history, interracial relationships were frowned upon and even illegal in some parts of the world. But, since the 1950s, attitudes towards these relationships have slowly begun to change. More recently, the success of movies such as Crazy Rich Asians, The Big Sick, and White Chicks have demonstrated that audiences are more open to dating and love stories between people of different backgrounds.
Romantic comedies have always been able to accurately reflect the societal norms and values of the time. In modern day rom-coms, we can see the progressive acceptance of different sexual orientations, gender roles, and interracial relationships. As the years go by, these stories will continue to help shape social norms in a positive and accepting way.
3. Exploring Evolving Perspectives of Gender Roles
Romantic comedies are a genre of their own, attracting a large audience worldwide. And as social norms begin to change, so do the messages romantic comedies send to audiences. Here are some of the ways that these movies are changing in response to evolving attitudes about gender roles.
- 1. Women taking agency and pursuing partners
2. More male characters actively pursuing relationships
3. Acknowledging that it is ok to be single
4. Embracing diversity
These changes in romantic comedies show how attitudes towards gender roles are shifting, and how these movies are evolving to reflect new ideas about relationships and romantic dynamics. With new perspectives, these movies become more inclusive and accepting, and come closer to the beautiful idea of a world where love knows no bound.
4. Exploring Changing Attitudes Toward Physical Interaction
Romantic comedies have long been a staple of entertainment – a form of escapism, taking us to fantastical situations that are sometimes a bit too close to home. And yet, they are more than just a source of entertainment, they are also reflected of the changing social norms as well. In recent years, romantic comedies have shown an interesting evolution in terms of how physical interaction is depicted.
It’s undeniable that modern romantic comedies show a different attitude toward physical interaction compared to their predecessors. Not only is physical interaction shown to be more casual and less formal, but it is also more readily accepted by the characters as well as the viewers. At its heart, this phenomenon reveals a critical social shift in POV that is indicative of our changing attitudes toward physical interaction.
5. The Role of Technology in Presenting Changing Social Norms
Romantic comedies have long provided fun escapism, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. In this post, we’ll explore how romantic comedies have changed with the changing social norms, and the role technology has played in presenting those changing social norms.
1. Showing the Reality of Relationships
Romantic comedies have often shown interpersonal relationships in a romanticized form, with classic tropes widely represented. In many of the classic romantic comedies, the women were passive and the men active protagonists. But recent romantic comedies have explored the power dynamics of relationships, showing how imbalanced relations, consent, and communication can take center stage. Characters from different backgrounds and genders are better-represented in these movies showing that relationships don’t always have to be perfect to be successful.
2. Evolving with Technology
Technology has had an influence on romantic comedies, both in terms of the plotline and story. Technology-related topics in movies have shifted from concerns about computers taking over our lives to the impact of digital media on interpersonal communication and relationships. Movies like “Her” and “Long Shot” have explored how artificial intelligence can supplant human relationships and how social media can play a destructive role in romantic relationships.
3. Depicting Gender Equality
Romantic comedies have acted as a way to show how gender roles and relationships have changed over the years. Older films often depicted men as romantic heroes, while women were seen as needy and dependent. But newer films show a more dynamic representation of gender roles, with women taking a more active role in relationships. Characters now represent a wider range of genders and sexualities, and two people going their separate ways are seen as just as valid a story ending as a happily ever after.
4. Different Kinds of Endings
In classic romantic comedies, the ending was seen as a “happily ever after”. But recent films have taken a far less linear approach. Movies now stray away from the typical ”boy gets girl” planet to explore non-hetero sexuality. In addition, they also end with the characters achieving individual happiness or staying with a partnership but without a marriage.
5. 335New Romantic Genres
Technology has had a big part to play in the creation of new genres of romantic comedy. In the last decade, we’ve seen the emergence of the screwball comedy, the zombie comedy, and the stoner comedy. These new genres help to not only entertain us but also show the changing norms of romantic relationships.
With romantic comedies, it’s clear that changing social norms have impacted the story and characters. Technology has allowed for the exploration of new perspectives and the normalization of topics that were once barred from public discussion. This has resulted in a new wave of movies that explore topics once thought of as taboo and push the boundaries of traditional romantic comedies.
6. How Rom-Coms Can Promote Positive Social Change
1. From Cinderella and Maid in Manhattan to Legally Blonde and The Princess Diaries, romantic comedies tell stories of how even the most unlikely protagonists can achieve their dreams. They promote the idea of strength in the face of adversity and overcoming obstacles, and even seemingly intractable problems.
2. More recently, though, we’ve seen an emergence of films that challenge social norms in a positive way. The Big Sick, for example, is about a comedic actor of Indian descent marrying a girl from Pakistan. The movie isn’t about some interracial couple cutting down barriers. It’s about two people of different backgrounds finding common ground and respecting each other’s cultures.
3. Crazy Rich Asians is another great example of a rom-com that challenges traditional norms. In this movie, the protagonist is an Asian American woman who earns scholarly achievements and financial success. She’s accepted into a wealthy Singaporean family despite being from a lower-income background. Her ultimate statement is that merit should count for more, no matter her race or socioeconomic status.
4. More recently, there have been films such as Love, Simon and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before which promote a positive message of acceptance and inclusivity. Both films feature LGBTQ themes that promote the idea that love should be considered regardless of gender or sexuality.
5. In the case of Love, Simon, there’s a twist that’s not seen in many other rom-coms: the protagonist ends up being accepted by his family and friends without having to make any grand gesture of acceptance. This promotes the idea of being accepting to those who are different regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
6. Last but not least, there’s the rom-com Isn’t it Romantic, which focuses on the idea of self-acceptance. In the film, the protagonist (played by Rebel Wilson) is a young woman who has spent her life denying the romantic side of her nature and suppressing feelings of self-love. Through the course of the movie, she learns that by accepting her unique self and embracing her individual strengths, she can find love and happiness.
By tackling issues like race, gender identity, sexuality, and self-acceptance, these romantic comedies show that social change can happen gradually, and can be achieved by gently challenging the status quo. Through characters that demonstrate perseverance and true strength in the face of adversity, these films promote positive social change in the form of acceptance, understanding, and inclusivity. Romantic comedies have been a staple in the film industry, and they are certainly here to stay. Through them, we can have a glimpse into our changing social norms and values, showing us that they are not as static as they may seem at first. Hearing stories of love in the forms of campy and fun movies takes us through a whirlwind of emotions, ultimately leaving us feeling hopeful for the future of relationships.
This article has been about Romantic comedies and the changing social norms that they show us. We hope it has helped you to understand them more clearly.