Have you ever seen the movie Enchanted? Besides some humorous lines, it is intentionally a very cheesy story of love that sort of parodies on the cliche fairytale. I actually like the movie, but you really do have to be in the right mood to watch it.
Keep in mind the definition of the word enchanted for later –
[enchant] : verb
1. to subject to magical influence; bewitch
2. to delight to a high degree
3. to impart a magic quality or effect to.
One of the biggest scenes in the movie is a grand musical number through Central Park where the fairytale princess, come to life, sings a tune to her co-star McDreamy to teach him about how to show his girlfriend that he loves her.
But here are the lyrics from two of the choruses:
How does she know, you love her? How does she know, you care?
Well does he leave a little note to tell you you are on his mind,
send you yellow flowers when the sky is gray?
He’ll find a new way to show you, a little bit every day.
That’s how you know, that’s how you know he’s in love.
How do you know he loves you? How do you know he cares?
Well does he take you out dancing just so he can hold you close,
dedicate a song with words meant just for you?
He’ll find some way to tell you, with the little things he’ll do.
That’s how you know, that’s how you know he’s your love.
Last night I came to the realization that this is a load of cultural poop.
True, it is very worthwhile to do nice things for significant others or friends and family to show them you care, and the sentiments of cheesy fairytales can be great on some occasions. I wouldn’t ever turn down a romantic outing or a set of flowers, but those things are material and have become a facade for what real love looks like. I know this now because I very often fall deep in that trap of unrealistic romantic expectations.
Part of culture is the premise that it is learned, so from a very young age we pick up the rituals, customs, and values that we see accepted around us. As a girl I learned that a man loves you if he is thoughtful enough to buy you flowers spontaneously, or take you on dates, or if he makes both big and small romantic gestures from time to time. Besides setting a standard for men that is arguably as mean as the female body image standard some of them have for us, this is a lie of culture.
These representations of “love” are more likely our way of substituting for a deeper longing, the desire for spiritual connection with God that some fill with money or other worldly treasures. This longing is also something that can happen in our relationships. The problem is that most of us have heard a sermon about not idolizing money as the source of happiness, but no one told me not to idolize love, or what the right version of love really is.
This is evidence that Hollywood’s version of love is so prevalent it has even pervaded the church thoroughly enough so that we don’t realize it’s grasp on how we understand our relationships. We let Hollywood define love to the world as romantic and material, when instead we should be redefining love in God’s context.
I am only just now learning that love between two people might not be shown through thoughtful gifts or romantic gestures, but instead it might reach full truth in a joined desire for God and each other to grow together in Him. I was literally enchanted by the idea that I need flowers and thoughtful gestures to know that someone loves me. This kind of misunderstanding can harm not just our relationships but ourselves and we need to better teach what real love looks like.
It is hard to say whether culture or the church is more at fault, but in the end whose fault it is doesn’t matter as much as who will take on the responsibility to change it. Each one of us has this responsibility to redefine love as found in a God who created the world, and the best place for me to start is to break the spell within myself.
What do you think true love looks like?
How has Hollywood or even our own ideas misrepresented this?