ByErrol Teichert, writer at
Coastal kid. Film Critic. Lover of movies. What more is there to say?
Errol Teichert

There are themes that have deep roots in cinema that tell human stories of love and loss and whatever other crap you want to think of. But through and through, there have been protagonists and storytellers that portray themes that are downright wrong and mentally/emotionally unhealthy. Now, there are arguments to be made that these illustrate the flaws in humanity or whatever, but the point I'm making is this: there are some messages that just shouldn't be sent, and yet they are all the time in movies. So here are a few.

1. Cheating on Spouses/Significant Others is Okay.
As seen in: Walk the Line (2005), Brokeback Mountain (2005)
"Oh no! (Insert protagonist) doesn't belong with (insert protagonist's partner)! It's so obvious that they belong with (insert alluring other person), they should just get with them!" I don't care what the situation is, cheating is simply not okay. It's flat-out wrong, and certainly grounds for ending a relationship. So when I see a movie where the main character "courageously" goes for "what makes them happy" by turning their back on someone who has committed to them, and this is shown as okay or justified. It honestly makes me sick. It's like there's no respect for commitment anymore. If you're not married to the person you should at least break up before you decide to get with someone else! Divorce is another issue, but we'll get to that later. For now, the point still stands: cheating is not okay.

2. Abandoning a Relationship for No Clear Reason, or to Pursue a Dream is Also Okay.
As seen in: Eat, Pray, Love (2010), Once (2006)
Julia Roberts' character in Eat, Pray, Love is absolutely infuriating. She abandons her husband near the beginning of the movie because she was unhappy. She gives him no indication before she tells him she wants a divorce and gives him no chance to repair the situation. She then starts on this journey of self-discovery, where she begins by seeing this other guy to whom she does the exact same thing. And then she later has a vision of her husband and realizes how important he was to her and does absolutely nothing about it! And this is all shown as being totally okay, because it's just part of her finding herself. As for Once, you must understand that I love this movie, like, more than life. But I don't condone a lot of the behavior in it, as intriguing as it makes the film. The main woman in this film, simply called "Girl," is still legally married to her etsranged husband while she has an emotional affair with the main character. When asked about why she broke it off with the guy, she simply says "We were just so different, you know?" I don't know about you, but to me that is just not a good reason to abandon a lifelong commitment to someone. Ultimately she goes back to her husband to make things worse, which is the right choice, but the filmmakers imply that going for her "true love" who she's known for a week is the right choice.

Again, it sometimes seems to me that there is no honor for fidelity in Hollywood.

3. You Can Change an Abusive Person by Being Nice to Them.
As seen in: Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Breakfast Club (1985)
Oh, this person is yelling at you and being abusive? This person is bitter and vindictive to everyone else in the same way? Don't worry, they have a good heart, you just need to be nice to them! They'll change when they realize someone cares about them, right? Right? WRONG.

Movies that send this message, especially fairy tales told to impressionable kids, are doing an evil thing. Now I am all for being nice to people, but the idea that you can singlehandedly change someone's nature by being kind is simply ludicrous. In the real world, the only way that someone is going to change is if they make the choice to. If someone is mean, they are likely going to be mean until they realize they have alienated everyone and that their behavior is wrong. Being nice to them isn't going to change that, the process is a lot more complicated. If you buy into this thinking, then you run the serious risk of exhausting yourself emotionally in pursuit of something that won't happen. So stop deluding yourself and focus on the quiet person who's "Such a good friend" and "so nice to you."

4. Breaking the Rules is Cool if You Look Good Doing it.
As seen in: Ocean's Eleven (2001), Any John Hughes Movie
Nothing is cooler than a well-dressed, charismatic person breaking rules that have been set in place to protect everyone from well-dressed, charismatic people. In movies, breaking the rules is a pretty cool thing as long as you look good doing it. If you care about your friends, if you've been wronged by some authority figure, if you want to achieve your dreams, or if you can sing at a parade, you are allowed to break any and all barriers necessary to do so. Hear that, kids?

5. Obsessive Behavior is Attractive
As seen in: The Twilight Saga, 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
A lot of great movies have this one (Not saying the Twilight movies are great). What's more attractive than someone who thinks about you all the time, collects every picture of you they can find and says that their life is meaningless and hopeless unless you love them? Hmm... how about someone who just says how they feel? So many films have characters who go to insane lengths for love, and as a result, we develop expectations that anyone who loves us would be willing to do the same for us. So if someone doesn't think that we are the end-all, be-all of human existence (instead of just a person that they care about), they must not be in love with us.

6. The Only Way to Indulge is to Over-Indulge


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