If you've ever winced in excruciating social agony when Noah from The Notebook threatened suicide to get a date, or when Edward Cullen condemned Bella to eternity as a vampire to get some, you're not alone and science totally agrees with you.
A new scientific study from the University of Michigan suggests that romcoms that glorify men engaging in stalker-like behavior as "romantic" can make women more likely to tolerate obsessive behavior from potential romantic partners.
The study entitled 'I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You' by gender and sexuality expert Julia R. Lippman investigated women's responses to questionnaires about pushy or aggressive romantic suitors. Lippman found that women in the study group who were played films about dogged romantic pursuits such as There's Something About Mary were more likely to normalize "stalking myths" than those who watched movies focusing on threatening male aggression or neutral nature documentaries.
In Lippman's own words describing the results of her scientific study:
"After watching excerpts from one of these six films, participants completed a series of survey measures, including one that assessed their endorsement of stalking myths. Stalking myths are false or exaggerated beliefs about stalking that minimise its seriousness, which means that someone who more strongly endorses these tends to take stalking less seriously."
Lippman concluded that exposure to films that depict relentless romantic pursuit in a negative way (for example in movies like Sleeping with the Enemy) seem to make women more cautious of stalker-like behaviors, but romcom lovers were more likely to feel like such extreme behavior was totally normal. Lippman told Canada's Global News that:
"[Such movies] can encourage women to discount their instincts. This is a problem because research shows that instincts can serve as powerful cues to help keep us safe. At their core, all these films are trading in the ‘love conquers all’ myth. Even though, of course, it doesn’t. Love is great, but so is respect for other people."
And, if you're looking for examples of this stalker-like behavior, you really don't have to look very far... No offense to the movies below, but when you look at them in a different light, they are undeniably unsettling.
1. 'Love, Actually'
Awww... he sat at home scrawling loads of cue cards to explain his love for his best friend's wife! That's cute!
No, it's not! It's really creepy. It's the actions of a dangerous sociopath. I mean, what would have happened if her hubby answered the door? He would have looked like a crazed stalker who carried around pre-written declarations of love with him. Someone would have called the police. Instead this happened...
2. 'The Notebook'
Oh look, The Notebook! That lovely movie were Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams make out in the rain...
And in a house...
And in the surf...
But how did he get to this point? Well, by threatening to commit suicide. He hung from a Ferris Wheel and threatened to KILL or SERIOUSLY HURT HIMSELF unless she went on a date with him.
And it worked! Instead of getting Gosling sectioned, McAdams ends up going out and playing tonsil hockey with him. Absolutely insane.
3. '50 First Dates'
50 First Dates is the story of a young woman who can no longer form short-term memories, but is nonetheless wooed by Adam Sandler in a totally non-predatory way...
This means everyday Lucy (Drew Barrymore) wakes up having totally forgotten everything about her life. To get around this Sandler devises a method previously utilized solely by serial killers. He leaves a creepy tape which starts with a terrifying opening line...
She then discovers she's essentially been abducted, has a CHILD, and is adrift at sea with no escape. She then leaves her room to find Sandler menacingly singing a song...
Yeah, you knew it was coming. Twilight is the bizarre story of love between a naive teenager and vampire who is over 100 years old. Sure, he still looks hot with his nice shirts and foppish hair, but this is a seriously old dude.
When he was born, women weren't even allowed to vote! Perhaps this explains why he acts so weird around them. He basically stalked Bella for a period, while simultaneously resisting the urge to murder her for her life-giving blood.
He scrambles her mind so much that after about three weeks of flirting she's prepared to become an undead monster for him... for eternity! I mean, there's obviously some kind of deep-seated Stockholm Syndrome-esque psychosis going on here.
I mean he says creepy stuff like this:
She looks terrified. Quick someone call Chris Hansen.
Who do you think is the creepiest romcom character?
(Source: The Guardian)