In 2008, I was 13. It was middle school, and we were required to begin studying a second language. Being the “take the easy road” girl that I was, the rumor was Latin was the easiest to get an A in. So I took it. It was there my feelings for boys developed; they began to turn from innocence into desire. In the class, our teacher made us read the story of Cupid and Psyche. Cupid, the son of the goddess of love, was sent down from his mother Aphrodite to make the beautiful Psyche fall in love with a horrendous creature. Aphrodite was jealous of Psyche, due to the rumor that this mortal Psyche was more beautiful than Aphrodite. Cupid had the ability to fling his arrow at anyone and make them fall in love with whomever he chooses. The story varies, but Cupid took another path. Some say he fell in love with her beauty at first sight, others say his own arrow struck him. Nevertheless, he fell in love with her, and soon began their love affair.
Cupid always hid from her, staying the in the darkness and never letting her see who he truly was; a god. He had convinced her marry him and stay in his palace with him, filled with endless riches that Psyche could not ignore. However, when they met at night, she could never see his face but could feel his physique, and ultimately fell right back in love with him. One curious night, she decided she could no longer go without seeing her husband’s face. As she held the candle over his face, discovering his identity as Cupid, a drip of wax fell onto his body and he awoke, fleeing from her, dismayed from her lack of trust.
Psyche was heartbroken. She set herself off on a long journey, always searching for him for many years. She came across his mother and in desperation for her love, begged for him. Aphrodite made her go on treacherous journeys, including a trip into the underworld, which most mortals didn’t make it out of. Because of her passion and strength of love for Cupid, she prevailed. Cupid eventually found out about her journeys and realized that she truly did love him, ultimately ending up together.
The story varies, since it’s ancient and has been passed down for centuries. Different cultures have different takes. I remember the story as a mortal woman fighting through difficult obstacles just to prove her love. It had an impact on me, enlightening me on the idea that a woman can be the one to fight for the person she loves, versus the popular view of the opposite. In popular culture, men tend to be the ones making a grand gesture, but lately it’s been changing, despite being a very old-fashioned idea. Some the recent films, such as Fever Pitch (2005), Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Trainwreck (2015) all include female leads that create either grand gestures or scenarios to prove the strength of love for their men, supporting the notion that women can be equally as romantic.
In Fever Pitch, the lead character (played by Drew Barrymore) is a successful workaholic executive named Lindsay Meeks. Her love interest, (played by Jimmy Fallon) is a schoolteacher named Ben Wrightman. The story unfolds as this powerful, successful woman falls in love with a great guy with an immature attachment to the Boston Red Sox. The film shows how sweet Ben is, despite the humorous immaturity he has when it comes to anything about the Red Sox. Lindsay acknowledges the sweetness, but starts to lose interest once it severely interferes with how Ben places Lindsay when it came to importance. She ends the relationship over it, and both fall into the typical romantic-comedy depression break-up. (Every romantic-comedy has it).
However, at the end of the film, she discovers that Ben may be giving up his Red Sox tickets due to his loss of love for them. Lindsay understands the importance to him, and runs across the field in the middle of a playoff game just to stop him from handing the tickets over. It’s a comical scene, with security officers chasing her and bumping into one another. When she reaches him, she explains how she knows how much the Red Sox mean to him and persuades him not to sell it because she loves him too much to let him do that.
The entire film shows Lindsay as a serious woman who falls in love with Ben due to his personality being so different from hers. In the end, she creates this grand gesture to prove to the audience that she changed, and also showing that women can be the ones to prove their love to a man.
Silver Linings Playbook was highly viewed as one of the best films of 2012. The lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, received an Oscar for her performance as Tiffany Maxwell, a young, neurotic widow. Maxwell meets and falls in love with Pat Solitano (played by Bradley Cooper), and throughout the film share an interesting dynamic of love due to both having mental illnesses. The film gives the audience hints of Tiffany’s love for Pat, including her showing up surprisingly on his runs, the way she looks and him when they dance, and how upset she gets when she hears about his ex-wife.
Throughout the film, Pat is desperately trying to reach out to his ex-wife, craving a deep love connection. At one point, he asks Tiffany to deliver a letter he wrote to his ex-wife, and Tiffany obliges. She gives him back a letter he thinks his ex-wife has written, only to later find out that Tiffany was the one who wrote the letter. This is her grand gesture, but it’s small and goes unnoticed. She is proving her love to him by not hurting his feelings, knowing that his ex-wife did not want to hear from him at all. So, she faked the letter, but by writing it in a way where the ex-wife was kind but clear that she did not want to see him. Pat realizes this, realizes that he too is in love with Tiffany and kisses her after she runs off from seeing him speaking to his ex-wife.
Although the gesture is small and goes unnoticed due the final scene being Pat running after Tiffany, it was her persistence that made him realize the truth. This shows that the gesture doesn’t need to be grand, but can still be given by a female.
Trainwreck was released this July, opening to rave reviews and applause to comedian Amy Schumer’s writing and acting. The story of Trainwreck is loosely based on Schumer’s life, with the title character of Amy being a successful, independent writer who doesn’t believe in monogamy. After an interview for the magazine she works for, she meets Aaron Conners, a sports doctor she ultimately falls in love with. He convinces her to be in a relationship, and throughout the film he is dedicated and supportive of her. After a fight, they break up and both go through the depression of loss. (like I said, typical romantic-comedy).
Due to this movie being very new, there is no clip of the ending scene that I describe below. However, I found the clip where Aaron convinces Amy to be together.
In the final scene, Amy set up the New York Knicks dancers to choreograph a number for Aaron after a Knicks game. It’s absolutely hilarious, but goes to show her strength of affection for him. This is her grand gesture, because despite how she felt most of her life, she loved him and did something spectacular to prove her faithfulness.
Female leads in film are becoming more of the romantics, and so are females in our society today. Although it’s an idea that goes centuries back, men are still perceived as the ones making the grand gestures, providing all of the romance. These films reject that idea, and all are recent within these past 10 years, proving that an old-fashioned perspective can be changed within popular culture and time. In the article “The Psychology Behind Love and Romance”, the author Darice Britt describes love as a two people who are partners, and not one leader and one follower. That’s how romance is, she claims and it’s not just one romantic person and the other is not. So perhaps, it’s not that women can be just as romantic as men. Chances are, in a working, loving relationship, both people are equally as romantic to one another.
Perhaps in Popular Culture, it’s not that women are becoming more of the romantics. With this analysis, dating back to ancient Greek tales, women were always romantic. Although many films show the men as the “romantic” ones, women are becoming more prominent. Romantics are dreamers, they’re artistic and poetic. They are not a gender. So perhaps I too, can get down one knee as well.
Britt, Darice. “The Psychology Behind Love and Romance.”Source.SouthUniversity.edu. South University, May 2013. Web. 13 Aug. 2015. <http://source.southuniversity.edu/the-psychology-behind-love-and-romance-70700.aspx>.
Fever Pitch. Dir. The Farelly Brothers. Perf. Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. 20th Century Fox, 2005. DVD.
Gill, N.S. “Myths and Legends – The Tale of Cupid and Psyche.” About Education. About.com, n.d. Web. 30 July 2015. <http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/a/mythslegends_4.htm>.
Silver Linings Playbook. Dir. David O. Russell. Perf. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. The Weinstein Company, 2012. DVD.
Trainwreck. Dir. Judd Apatow. Perf. Amy Schumer and Bill Hader. Universal, 2015. Film.