Oh, you lucky people, you get a completely random wander through the cobwebby corners of my mind!
I was driving to the Dept of Driver Services (known in most other US States as the DMV or Department of Motor Vehicles) to drop off some paperwork for my DH because they're only open Tues-Fri and those are the days he has to work, so...anyway.
I was driving, as one does, and I was thinking about the other errands I had to run (PO for stamps, grocery store for milk) and when I had run out of those I just let my mind wander randomly through things, again, as one does. And it's kind of a mishmash in there -- I tend to click on random links via Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and I accidentally follow a number of fandoms via Tumblr (srsly. I do not watch Teen Wolf, Supernatural, or Leverage, but they make up about 65% minimum of the non-hockey stuff I see on Tumblr. I don't mind; I'm interested enough to care what happens to the characters but not interested enough to actually watch the shows). And then "I Won't Say I'm in Love," the song from Disney's Hercules, came on my iPod, and a couple of things kind of started slotting together and...
Like I said, it's cobwebby and a bit weird in here, and someone else somewhere else has probably said the same things better than my sleep-deprived brain, but...
There are certain things that seem to happen with an almost predictable regularity within the community of romance readers -- someone getting bent out of shape over less-than-stellar reviews, for instance. One of the ones that I notice the most in a direct way is when someone somewhere gets a Holier-than-thou over readers of romance, proceeds to make sweeping statements about us and the authors we love, and generally turns it into the butt of an unspecified but unnecessary number of jokes.
And then I thought about Hercules, and any number of other movies, Disney and otherwise, that really didn't need to have romance in them, and would in fact have been just as good, if not better, had they not taken that direction at all. Does Hercules really need to have a crush on Megara (or her back at him) in order for him to feel like what happened to her was wrong, and she deserves better? Nope, not really... And how many other movies can that apply to? Does Ariel really *have* to marry Eric in order to experience life as a human? Does it all have to be about Twu Wuv?
Is it really fair of us to spoon-feed this idea of romance to children from a young age, then turn around and tell them they're stupid for believing it? We saturate our kids with media presenting certain images of life and behavior and basically tell them "This is what you should be striving for" and then turn around and tell them that those things are wrong or bad or dangerous or stupid. And it's really hard, unless you're a super-fundamentalist who avoids the entire outside world, to *not* expose your kids to some level of this. And even talking frankly and openly about it can only help so much -- if they're getting one thing from you and something different from every single other direction in their lives outside of you, is it going to be enough?
And yet we continue to read and love and champion romance, because in the end, it's about all kinds of love, and humanity is made up of all the different kinds of love we can gather to ourselves.