Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's Happily Ever After or at Least Until Reality Sets In

One of the biggest cultural influences on my life has been movies. I don’t think that I am being too audacious to say that movies have made me—at times—search for and expect a nonexistent, unobtainable perfect life. It all started with Disney movies; therefore, I blame Disney for my misery.

Every single Disney storyline contains the same basic idea: the female lead could never save herself and would always expect a tall, dark, and always super masculine and handsome man to come save her. This consistent storyline eventually composed my view of what I consider to be an “ideal” romantic relationship; which I now have discovered does not exist.

After many years of Disney motion picture cultural influence, I developed a blueprint of the ideal man. Physically he is: tall, muscular (but not too buff), with dark hair and light eyes. He’s athletic, charming, a gentleman, brave, caring, smart, and has morals. The man I just described is every hero in almost every Disney film.
*Slight variations in physical appearances are typically was sets these heroes apart…but all in all, it’s the same man in every film.

And there are more similarities! You can view them HERE.

Okay, okay I can’t blame Disney for all my problems. I’m not so naive to totally believe in the Hypodermic Needle Theory, or as I call it, “the monkey-see-monkey-do theory.” This theory implies that media has a direct, immediate and powerful effect on its audiences. Though I still argue that media has a very powerful effect, I don’t think that it is as black and white as some people make it out to be. As I grew up, reality set in to my vision of life and I believe that is usually the case for most people out there.

So I guess the only thing I can blame Disney on is pulling my hopes up at a young age, just to have them crash down as soon as my adolescent years began. Thanks for the let-down Disney!

But hey, maybe I shouldn’t pin it all on Disney? What other influences in your life let you down as soon as you got older and reality set in?

PS- I apologize for such a short blog it’s been a crazy week!


  1. Megan,

    Great blog topic! Very interesting to read, and yet, sadly, so true.

    For me, I've experienced several of these influences that have let me down, some more impacting than others.

    1. Barbie - This is probably the biggest and most profound one. I got my first Barbie when I was 3 or 4 years old. I used to think that with my Barbies and the dollhouse my daddy made me, I was in a perfect world. I continued to amass my humongous collection of Barbies, accessories and furniture, all perfectly organized in my closet, for the next 9 years. Alas, not all girls are blessed with long blond hair, big breasts, skinny waists, long legs and perfect tan skin. But girls can dream, right?

    2. American Girl - This goes along the lines of what happened with Barbie, but on a smaller scale. I grew up reading the historical books, devouring the stories of Felicity, Kirsten, Samantha and Molly until I finally got my own "Make Her Your Own" American girl doll when I was 8. Immediately after opening the box, I was disappointed because she did not have long, brown hair like me. The company, at the time, didn't make a white, green-eyed doll with brown hair, only blonde. Still, I accepted Stephanie as my own and played with her for years. I still have her and all the clothes and accessories in a copy paper box in my closet. Amazing.

    3. The Nicholas Sparks books - I started reading Nicholas Sparks's books after watching "A Walk to Remember." They are amazing books and I have read all of them about two and three times over, but I recently realized that they are have the same plot structure, just different characters and settings in North Carolina. However, I have not let the plot similarities get me down from reading the books or watching the movies...have I mentioned how I still need to see "Dear John" and CANNOT WAIT for Miley Cyrus in "The Last Song," which I am fully intending to go see at Sunchase Cinemas 8 with my little sister Lane, first showing on Wednesday, March 31st? Yeah. I'm slightly obsessed - don't judge.

    Sorry for the novel, but it's all relevant!
    Great job!!!
    Keep up the fantastic work - can't wait for next week!
    -Laura Beth :)

  2. Good topic, Framing Theory also works in a way here. I know it usually deals with interpersonal aspects of communication but it lines up with media viewing, interpretation, retention, and reaction as well.

    You mention movies influencing how we think and what we expect, well that is a schema or framework in your own life forcing you to view things through a lense/frame.

    It's interesting how many concepts and theories can be applied in different ways to different subjects.

    On another note, I also was tricked by Disney films into this idea of what a real man is. Aladdin got me into some precarious situations when I was younger climbing to the tops of things and swinging...


  3. Hmm I don't think I remember learning about the Hypodermic Needle Theory, that's really interesting. Ya I'm with you on the Disney gave us unrealistic expectations. I'm learning to not use Disney as a comparison to guys today. I actually catch myself now when I'm thinking a guy should be one way and I'm like wait...why? Oh cuz Disney said they should be. It's not even possible for a guy to be all those things but a nice mixture sometimes so in that aspect.

    I think we're also influenced by romantic novels and our drama shows though. I mean McDreamy...really at least he had the whole oh btw I have a wife thing going on to make him more human but still what guy in real life would ever think of a post-it to get married by. Romantic gestures like that aren't for real either but it's more feasible than Disney because these gestures are coming from guys we've learned to be real.

  4. I really liked this blog topic a lot because I can definitely identify with it. I agree with you that my taste in guys does match the "prince charming" in all of the Disney movies. I can remember watching Enchanted the first time and I thought "of course they would chose that guy to be the prince because he has dark hair and light eyes just like the cartoons!" But, I have fallen right into their trap because that's basically my perfect guy. Ugh, stupid Disney!