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Romance has always had a huge effect on society. In the past thirty years it seems like romance has gone from sweet and endearing to psycho stalking.
Is my generation really to blame for their stalking? Growing up I watched TV shows like The Parkers (a sitcom about an African American mother and daughter who were attending the same college), The Nanny (a sitcom about a Jewish bridal shop worker who gets hired as a nanny), and Family Matters (a sitcom about an African American family and their annoying next door neighbor) to okay this sort of behavior.
The mother, Nikki, in The Parkers was constantly pursuing her professor. At first her crush was harmless enough soon it got weird. She had keys made to his apartment and would show up whenever she felt like. He often had the locks changed but, she always got a new key made. She ruined every relationship that he had and after five long years of her stalking they ended up together. Go figure.
The Nanny had a similar story. Fran Fine worked for her boss, Maxwell Sheffield, for five long years. In all five of those years she was waiting for him to admit his feelings for her. She had several different love interests in the show, including Maxwell’s brother, but every relationship ended in failure and with Fran running back to Maxwell’s arms. In the sixth season of the show the two married and had twins.
Family Matters had the most notorious stalker of the 1990’s, Steve Urkel. He was everybody’s favorite nerd, but everyone should have been concerned. Steve fell in love with Laura Winslow, his neighbor, from the very beginning and he expressed his love for her constantly. No matter how many times Laura told Steve to leave her alone, he was there. The two eventually became good friends and Laura often stood up for Steve to her meat-headed friends and boyfriends. But Steve always caused trouble for her resulting in their friendship being tested. It wasn’t until Steve found a new girl that Laura started having feelings for him. The show lasted nine seasons and by the end of it, Laura and Steve were engaged.
I loved those shows growing up. I always watched and waited for the soul mates to finally realize that they were meant for each other. I became addicted to stories like that. Not only was I addicted, I was brainwashed. All throughout elementary and junior high I would always find that one special guy that I thought was the one. I would become best friends with him because that’s the way it worked out in Family Matters. I would playfully argue with him because that’s what they did on The Nanny. I even resorted to “stalking” in my later years because that’s what Nikki Parker did and she got her man in the end. All of those crushes lasted at least a year. Most of them of them were on the brink of two.
With shows like these growing up, how could I not feel some overpowering urge to pursue someone until they fall madly in love with me? Some might say what I did was sweet and endearing, others might say it’s the end of mental stability.
Even popular songs, old and new, condone this obsessive behavior. Every Breath You Take by The Police is a perfect example of such. “Oh, can’t you see? You belong to me. How my poor heart aches with every step you take. Every move you make, every vow you break,
every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you.” It’s obvious that this person was hurt by the relationship that failed. But, instead of writing a song about stalking his ex, he should be moving on with his life. Even the phrase “You belong to me” shows that he is clearly not alright upstairs. People aren’t cattle, you can’t own them.
Lady Gaga’s song Paparazzi is a more modern example of teenage craziness. The lyrics are as follows, “Promise I’ll be kind. But I won’t stop until that boy is mine. Baby, you’ll be famous. Chase you down until you love me, papa-paparazzi.” This song was everywhere when it first came out. People loved this song and for good reason. We are conditioned to allow this sort of behavior. I for one don’t want to feed into my past addiction of bad romances.
Even literature has taken a turn for the crazy. It used to be that romantic literature was sweet and endearing. Take Romeo and Juliet for example a tale of star-crossed lovers that in ended in tragedy. Even though the ending of the story gets you down in the dumps, it still has some very memorable and charming sentiments. “But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon. Who is already sick and pale with grief, that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she” (II.ii. 2-6). Romeo continues comparing Juliet’s beauty to other celestial beings throughout the scene and just seems bewitched by her beauty.
A modern example of an endearing statement is as follows, “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.” (Meyer 268) This was an excerpt from the book Twilight. Here instead of being compared to the sun the main character, Bella Swan, is being compared to a drug. At first glance, that might seem sweet. I thought it was sweet to. I even started thinking of a certain someone as my drug, my addiction. But if you look beyond the words of a handsome young vampire you will
realize that it’s more of an insult. A drug will destroy an addict’s life and slowly cause them to wither away while they live in a creator of self-pity. Edward is basically saying that his love for Bella makes him hate himself and it will eventually ruin his life. I personally, would rather be compared to the sun (which makes all life on the planet possible, instead of something that destroys lives). I know most people would.
Little by little the media is influencing my generation to be love-crazed zombies that refuse to give up on someone no matter how much rejection they face. I myself have been guilty of not letting go. Even to this day I have trouble letting go of the boy from Junior High and all my friends know it. Even he knows and yet I still feel that urge to hold on even though there is nothing to hold on to. But five, six, and nine years is a little much. It’s time to wake up and smell the wilted roses; don’t be a love zombie.