Romances you rooted against

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mattiasflgrtll6's Avatar
The truth is in here
There is nothing like a nice old love story, but are they always so nice?

Year Of The Dragon is a great film, and Mickey Rourke absolutely kills it in the role. But there is something so unpleasant about the romance between Stanley and Tracy Tzu. As soon as
WARNING: spoilers below
he resorts to raping her (ironpony thinks it isn't rape, but I strongly disagree)
, I felt a bit too uncomfortable about the whole thing. Luckily it's not the major focal point, and Ariane is very likable as Tracy, but it's just something I took issue with.

In the case of Coal Miner's Daughter this is not so much a flaw with the movie as much as it is deliberate (at least to an extent). At first when Doo is introduced, he seems like a charming enough man. Way too old for Loretta of course, but that was common in those days. However, just like in YOTD
WARNING: spoilers below
she gets raped, and pregnant on top of it. He also drinks too much, cheats constantly, as well as abuses her physically and psychologically.
Why I say this isn't a flaw though is because you really do buy that Loretta loves him. Some people are willing to let themselves be treated poorly just because the other can be so sweet and caring whenever they aren't angry. It's disturbingly realistic, in fact. That being said, the film does try to paint up his redemption, which was hard for me to swallow since I couldn't get over how reprehensible this man has been towards her.



That being said, the film does try to paint up his redemption, which was hard for me to swallow since I couldn't get over how reprehensible this man has been towards her.
There are a lot of stories where the "love of a good woman" redeems a man, and I often have mixed feelings about them. I do think that people can change, and I do think that people deserve forgiveness. But sometimes women (or children characters) are treated as little more than plot points to help a male character change his life, and that often falls a bit flat for me.

Now, in the reverse gender dynamic, in the movie Gentlemen's Agreement, the Gregory Peck character dates a woman who is very anti-Semitic. And there's this other female character who is super awesome! But the film only treats the biased woman as a love interest. As my sister bluntly put it, "I can't believe he's going to end up with her, she sucks."

Kind of an obvious one, but I ended up watching Twilight in a hotel room one night and I was surprised at how troubling I found the romance between the two characters. I'd heard, of course, that people had a problem with it, but it was slightly worse than I'd expected.

In Pitch Perfect the main character has a crush on a hot, older student who is a DJ. But the love interest is this guy from another singing group. I really didn't care for the way that her liking the hot guy was seen as dumb (people should be allowed to have crushes! Even if they just want a fling/sex!). And I didn't like the way that the "love interest" treated her. The specifics escape me, but I feel like there were several times that he was really rude to her just because she didn't like him. Just because you think you are a "nice guy," it doesn't mean people have to want to date you!

The way that the two male leads of Sixteen Candles talked about raping an unconscious girl like it was an okay thing to do ("I got Caroline in my bedroom right now, passed out cold. I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to." "What are you waiting for?") completely turned me off of both of them. You can argue that it's "historically accurate" or whatever, but that won't make me want her to end up with either of them. Molly Ringwald deserved better.

Four Weddings and a Funeral had such dull, unkind main characters. I couldn't root for any of them (except slightly for the gay couple).

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days is based on the main characters being awful to each other, and especially the Kate Hudson character. I thought the whole thing was painful. I guess at least if they are with each other, everyone else is safe.

I thought that the whole dynamic of Gigi was pretty gross.

In Stranger by the Lake the main character strikes up a sexual/romantic relationship with a man who may be a killer. But the main character is so nice! He's really attractive! He's a good listener! He could find such a nice boyfriend/sex buddy! I know that the romance is meant to be messed up, but it really made me sad.



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There is nothing like a nice old love story, but are they always so nice?

Year Of The Dragon is a great film, and Mickey Rourke absolutely kills it in the role. But there is something so unpleasant about the romance between Stanley and Tracy Tzu. As soon as
WARNING: spoilers below
he resorts to raping her (ironpony thinks it isn't rape, but I strongly disagree)
, I felt a bit too uncomfortable about the whole thing. Luckily it's not the major focal point, and Ariane is very likable as Tracy, but it's just something I took issue with.

In the case of Coal Miner's Daughter this is not so much a flaw with the movie as much as it is deliberate (at least to an extent). At first when Doo is introduced, he seems like a charming enough man. Way too old for Loretta of course, but that was common in those days. However, just like in YOTD
WARNING: spoilers below
she gets raped, and pregnant on top of it. He also drinks too much, cheats constantly, as well as abuses her physically and psychologically.
Why I say this isn't a flaw though is because you really do buy that Loretta loves him. Some people are willing to let themselves be treated poorly just because the other can be so sweet and caring whenever they aren't angry. It's disturbingly realistic, in fact. That being said, the film does try to paint up his redemption, which was hard for me to swallow since I couldn't get over how reprehensible this man has been towards her.
Well I watched some of Year of the Dragon again because of this comment to refresh myself.

I didn't think it was rape in this sense... He throws her down and forces a kiss on her and it seems like she doesn't want it based on her reaction and her trying to resist, then it cuts to another scene entirely, to like the next day at the police station.

A few scenes later, we see him and her having completely consensual sex and cuddling romantically. So something must have happened after it cut away from him force kissing her. She must have changed her mind during the kissing because now she is all over him romantically, and cuddling, and getting naked and intimate, the next time they meet.

So why is she still with him if she thinks she was raped? She must not have thought of it that way, if she is still with him, I figured, or she must have changed her mind through that kiss, when it cut away.

That's why I didn't think it was rape, but I am wrong? It was nevertheless a very awkward forced kiss scene, that akwardly cuts away, and still could have been written and directed much less awkwardly perhaps. So even though I think it is awkward, and perhaps sticks out like a sore thumb in the movie, I don't think it was rape, if she wants him a few scenes later, since she must have changed her mind through the kissing, unless I am wrong?

As for the rest of the movies, I haven't seem most of them, but I also agree with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. They were so awful to each other, I didn't want them to end up together, but they did.



mattiasflgrtll6's Avatar
The truth is in here
He clearly forced himself upon her. It's not even subtle. She might have started to enjoy it after a while, but if she doesn't agree to it all the way it's still rape. Not to mention this is what the soundtrack playing during that scene is called:




As for why she stayed with him, the 80's had a major issue with downplaying sexual assault. Unless the character is an obvious super villain, things like these get taken much less seriously and even romanticized sometimes, like in this instance.



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That part of the soundtrack was not played during that scene in the movie. I just watched the movie again today, to confirm. Later on in te movie, the mafia members break into her house to rape and that is when the music is played. It is not played when Mickey Rourke rapes her, if that is what he did. But the music was not played over that scene of her and Mickey Rourke. That sequence didn't have any music.

But if it is rape, I think the question we need to ask ourselves is why did they write it so that she was turned on by the rape and wanted to romance with the guy afterwards then.

What's also strange I found was that if it was rape between her and Mickey Rourke, then why did she enjoy that and still want to be with him after, but then later, when the mafia guys break into her place and rape her, she is traumatized by that, and didn't like it at all? Why was one rape okay with her, but the gang rape later, was not?

That I find to be questionable. This is why at first I thought well maybe the first one wasn't rape if she enjoyed it, compared to the gang rape later which she did not like at all. But if it was rape with Mickey Rourke as well, why write it so she okay with one, and not the other?



He clearly forced himself upon her. It's not even subtle. She might have started to enjoy it after a while, but if she doesn't agree to it all the way it's still rape.
Thank you. I don't know why this is a hard concept for so many people. An encounter between two people can have consenting parts and not consenting parts. Something can start as an assault and someone can change their mind, or something can start as consensual and then someone can change their mind. Either way, the non-consenting part is wrong! If someone is resisting you physically or verbally, you should stop! Not assault them in the hopes that they will have a change of heart.

It's like if someone breaks into your house and after a while you decide you're okay with them being there. They still committed the crime of breaking and entering. If someone steals my bike and I later decide to give it to them, they still committed the crime of theft. There are women who date and/or marry the men who raped them, but it doesn't mean that a crime didn't happen.

To get back to the main topic of the thread, I don't necessarily root against the movies I'm about to describe, but I always worry a bit about romances that come from two people being in a stressful situation. Like two people are trapped in an elevator! Or they get snowed into a cabin! It's not that I don't think it's sweet that two people can help each other through an ordeal, but I always feel like a relationship that starts that way might not be one that will last. A good example would be like Romancing the Stone or River of No Return.



As weird as it might be. the first movie I thought of when I saw the title of this thread was Alec Baldwin chasing after Meryl Streep in It's Complicated



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Thank you. I don't know why this is a hard concept for so many people. An encounter between two people can have consenting parts and not consenting parts. Something can start as an assault and someone can change their mind, or something can start as consensual and then someone can change their mind. Either way, the non-consenting part is wrong! If someone is resisting you physically or verbally, you should stop! Not assault them in the hopes that they will have a change of heart.

It's like if someone breaks into your house and after a while you decide you're okay with them being there. They still committed the crime of breaking and entering. If someone steals my bike and I later decide to give it to them, they still committed the crime of theft. There are women who date and/or marry the men who raped them, but it doesn't mean that a crime didn't happen.

To get back to the main topic of the thread, I don't necessarily root against the movies I'm about to describe, but I always worry a bit about romances that come from two people being in a stressful situation. Like two people are trapped in an elevator! Or they get snowed into a cabin! It's not that I don't think it's sweet that two people can help each other through an ordeal, but I always feel like a relationship that starts that way might not be one that will last. A good example would be like Romancing the Stone or River of No Return.
I think the reason why people have a hard time accepting it, and I very well could be wrong, is that in movies like that, the female character still likes the male character and doesn't consider herself raped, and the audience think it should be her call as to whether or not she considers it rape. If she doesn't consider herself raped, then why should the audience to think so, because it's the characters call and not the audiences.

I don't think we, the viewer, should tell a character "no, you're wrong", when it's up to the character to decide what was what.

Unless I am totally wrong on this as a viewer?



I think the reason why people have a hard time accepting it, and I very well could be wrong, is that in movies like that, the female character still likes the male character and doesn't consider herself raped, and the audience think it should be her call as to whether or not she considers it rape. If she doesn't consider herself raped, then why should the audience to think so, because it's the characters call and not the audiences.

I don't think we, the viewer, should tell a character "no, you're wrong", when it's up to the character to decide what was what.

Unless I am totally wrong on this as a viewer?
Did the character ever explicitly say how she felt about their first sexual encounter? Or are you inferring that she was okay with it because she later has consensual sex with him? Like I said--there are people who stay in relationships (even long term ones) with people who sexually or physically assaulted them. Just because someone stays in a relationship with someone who harmed them, that doesn't automatically equal that they don't think what happened to them was wrong or that they "don't consider [themselves] raped."

Also, let's keep in mind that Tracy is a person, but she is also a character written by the collective efforts of three men.

Consider this excerpt from Gene Siskel's 1985 review when the film first came out:

And caught between these two aggressive men is an often aggressive young Chinese woman who works the Chinatown beat as a local TV news reporter.

The character of Tracy Tzu (played by the striking model known simply as Ariane) is a clever plot device--a character who can travel easily between the film`s white and yellow worlds. But her actions are so laughable and inconsistent that her role becomes an annoyance, albeit an attractive one. Fault the script for that and not the actress.

First of all, she`s the only TV reporter we ever see. Second, her reports are not really TV style reports; they`re overwrought monologues written to move the story along. Third, and most important, her love relationship with the detective Stanley White is full of reactionary sexism.

The aggressive young reporter collapses nearly every time he presses her for sex, turning her character ultimately into little more than a China doll in modern dress.
In real life it's true that there are some complicated connections between love, attraction, violence, sex, communication, trust, lust, and happiness. But I have yet to see a film where a man forces himself on a woman and she's really into it that wasn't written by a man. I think you're trying to apply more logic to the character than the writing deserves.

Also, to zoom out even more, the question the OP asked what which relationships we didn't root for. Tracy (as a character inside the film) might be really into her relationship, despite the sexual assault. But it is the OP's right as a viewer to say that he finds their relationship gross and thus didn't root for it.



As weird as it might be. the first movie I thought of when I saw the title of this thread was Alec Baldwin chasing after Meryl Streep in It's Complicated
I know a few people who LOVE this movie, though I have yet to see it myself.

What didn't you like about their characters?



The characters have been divorced for a long time...Baldwin's character has actually remarried and is being pressured by his new wife into having a baby, the pressure of which tempts him into bed with his ex (Streep) when they meet in New York for one of their kids' wedding. At the same time, Streep begins a nice relationship with a sweet, unattached architect played by Steve Martin, who would be perfect for her, but Baldwin's dogged pursuit of her has her totally confused.



The characters have been divorced for a long time...Baldwin's character has actually remarried and is being pressured by his new wife into having a baby, the pressure of which tempts him into bed with his ex (Streep) when they meet in New York for one of their kids' wedding. At the same time, Streep begins a nice relationship with a sweet, unattached architect played by Steve Martin, who would be perfect for her, but Baldwin's dogged pursuit of her has her totally confused.
Gotcha.

It's funny to realize that despite knowing a bunch of people who love it, I know like nothing about the film, LOL. I didn't even realize Steve Martin was in it!



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Did the character ever explicitly say how she felt about their first sexual encounter? Or are you inferring that she was okay with it because she later has consensual sex with him? Like I said--there are people who stay in relationships (even long term ones) with people who sexually or physically assaulted them. Just because someone stays in a relationship with someone who harmed them, that doesn't automatically equal that they don't think what happened to them was wrong or that they "don't consider [themselves] raped."

Also, let's keep in mind that Tracy is a person, but she is also a character written by the collective efforts of three men.

Consider this excerpt from Gene Siskel's 1985 review when the film first came out:



In real life it's true that there are some complicated connections between love, attraction, violence, sex, communication, trust, lust, and happiness. But I have yet to see a film where a man forces himself on a woman and she's really into it that wasn't written by a man. I think you're trying to apply more logic to the character than the writing deserves.

Also, to zoom out even more, the question the OP asked what which relationships we didn't root for. Tracy (as a character inside the film) might be really into her relationship, despite the sexual assault. But it is the OP's right as a viewer to say that he finds their relationship gross and thus didn't root for it.
Oh okay thanks. Do you know where I can find Siskel's review of it, I am unable to find it so far.

Also, yes that is a good point that it could have been rape even though the woman changed her mind at some point during it, I see what you mean. I guess my attitude towards the female character is, well if rape turns you on, you do you, and rock on!

But of course I see what you mean that the act of rape was still there. Why is it that in older movies, female characters once in a while would be sexually aroused by being raped though, and want to stay with the guy? Is it just because of male writers or is this realistic amongst a certain percentage of women, but they actually are happy with the guy and seem to be enjoying themselves, such as in Year of the Dragon?

But the nevertheless, I do think that the rape scene in Year of the Dragon was poorly written, and that he should have seduced her in another way to make the romance less awkward and arbitruary.

As for male writers, writing about this kind of thing, and not female ones, I guess one that comes to mind is the movie 365 Days which I read was written by a female. I haven't seen the movie but it's about a woman who is kidnapped and sexually assaulted by her captor but then she ends up falling for him and they have a relationship. I haven't seen the movie, just going by what I have heard.

But I guess if that happens in the movie, than that is one example of a female writing about it rape, where the woman falls for the guys after?



Oh okay thanks. Do you know where I can find Siskel's review of it, I am unable to find it so far.
https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...413-story.html

Also, yes that is a good point that it could have been rape even though the woman changed her mind at some point during it, I see what you mean. I guess my attitude towards the female character is, well if rape turns you on, you do you, and rock on!
People can be turned on by whatever turns them on. But here's a question: are their later sex scenes rough? Is violence the thing that seems to attract the love interest?

And secondly: setting aside Tracy's response, what does it say about Rourke's character that he would assault a woman that way? There's a HUGE difference between knowing ahead of time that someone would want a more intense sexual encounter with those elements and just forcing yourself on someone. If a man (or woman) without warning suddenly punched their partner during sex and it just happened that their partner liked that, the person throwing the punch is still a major creep for doing it without consent.

But of course I see what you mean that the act of rape was still there. Why is it that in older movies, female characters once in a while would be sexually aroused by being raped though, and want to stay with the guy?
There is a school of thought among some people that men know what women "really want", and that what a woman says about it doesn't matter. Plenty of people from all genders get off on power dynamics and controlled violence (hence why the dominatrix industry exists). There's a big difference between someone being turned on by sexual violence and the idea that some people (usually women) have to be forced into sex so that they can see that it's good. There's also the very old fashioned notion that once a woman has sex with a man, she belongs to him--that sex is a way of staking a claim on a person. Until 2007 in Costa Rica, you could rape someone and be found innocent as long as you offered to marry the victim. I think that there are a lot of weird cultural reasons why you see those dynamics in films/books/TV.

As for male writers, writing about this kind of thing, and not female ones, I guess one that comes to mind is the movie 365 Days which I read was written by a female. I haven't seen the movie but it's about a woman who is kidnapped and sexually assaulted by her captor but then she ends up falling for him and they have a relationship. I haven't seen the movie, just going by what I have heard.
I haven't seen 365 Days either, but according to the wiki summary, he says that he won't touch her until she gives her permission and their first sexual encounter is consensual (you know, as much as sex can be consensual when you're someone's hostage). Women being assaulted and then it turning into romance isn't something I've seen in movies written by women, but it is pretty common in romance novels written by women. But those novels are often very clearly written as fantasy and not meant to be realistic.

Again: people can be turned on by what they like. As long as they understand that films are not reality, god speed. But much like the OP, I find it hard to root for a romance when one member of the relationship was willing to assault the other.



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Dunno about you guys but I thought the sex scene in Naked Action: College Girl Rape Edition (1990) might have not been consensual.
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https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...413-story.html



People can be turned on by whatever turns them on. But here's a question: are their later sex scenes rough? Is violence the thing that seems to attract the love interest?

And secondly: setting aside Tracy's response, what does it say about Rourke's character that he would assault a woman that way? There's a HUGE difference between knowing ahead of time that someone would want a more intense sexual encounter with those elements and just forcing yourself on someone. If a man (or woman) without warning suddenly punched their partner during sex and it just happened that their partner liked that, the person throwing the punch is still a major creep for doing it without consent.



There is a school of thought among some people that men know what women "really want", and that what a woman says about it doesn't matter. Plenty of people from all genders get off on power dynamics and controlled violence (hence why the dominatrix industry exists). There's a big difference between someone being turned on by sexual violence and the idea that some people (usually women) have to be forced into sex so that they can see that it's good. There's also the very old fashioned notion that once a woman has sex with a man, she belongs to him--that sex is a way of staking a claim on a person. Until 2007 in Costa Rica, you could rape someone and be found innocent as long as you offered to marry the victim. I think that there are a lot of weird cultural reasons why you see those dynamics in films/books/TV.



I haven't seen 365 Days either, but according to the wiki summary, he says that he won't touch her until she gives her permission and their first sexual encounter is consensual (you know, as much as sex can be consensual when you're someone's hostage). Women being assaulted and then it turning into romance isn't something I've seen in movies written by women, but it is pretty common in romance novels written by women. But those novels are often very clearly written as fantasy and not meant to be realistic.

Again: people can be turned on by what they like. As long as they understand that films are not reality, god speed. But much like the OP, I find it hard to root for a romance when one member of the relationship was willing to assault the other.
Yeah that's true, there are good points made there. What was going through Mickey Rourke's characters mind when he chose to initiate the rape and all... When I discussed 365 Days with a friend, she said that it was still rape because even though the guy did not promise to touch the woman until she consented, since she was kidnapped, she still consented out of pressure from the kidnapping, or at least that is what I was told.

The power dynamic makes sense. What about a movie like High Plains Drifter, where Clint Eastwood's character rapes the woman but then the woman wants him after and comes back to him, trying to get him into bed again after?



Dunno about you guys but I thought the sex scene in Naked Action: College Girl Rape Edition (1990) might have not been consensual.
But were you rooting for the central romance? Let's keep on topic here, people.

The power dynamic makes sense. What about a movie like High Plains Drifter, where Clint Eastwood's character rapes the woman but then the woman wants him after and comes back to him, trying to get him into bed again after?
The movie where Clint Eastwood films himself heroically raping a woman but because he's so magical and manly she falls for him (as does the only other significant female character)? And the female victim is repeatedly mocked and humiliated? And what happened in the barn was something she "wanted" and "enjoyed" (though these are always his words, not hers)? But we're meant to think that she deserves it because she's greedy and annoying?

I actually think that High Plains Drifter is a fascinating, A+ movie with D- gender dynamics. If you removed the character of the woman he attacks, it would probably be my favorite western.

When characters don't behave in a way that makes sense, there are two possibilities. (1) The writer is exploring an interesting, real contradiction in the way that people behave and relate to each other or (2) the writer has failed to portray a realistic human being.

The idea that a woman would deliberately provoke a strange man totally fails the common sense meter for me. I could buy her being snooty around him. I could buy her trying to seduce him (because she wants to ally with someone powerful). But initiating a physical altercation? Nah. Watch that scene and ask yourself what she could possibly hope would be the outcome of that confrontation. I literally cannot think of an answer to that. And it's because that scene was written expressly with the purpose of giving him a reason to attack her.

Again, I think that an imbalanced power dynamic can sort of work when a film exists in a certain fantasy realm (just like child abduction can be fun when you're watching Treasure Island!). But in any kind of realistic setting/scenario it's creepy and wrong and not the basis of a romance I'd want to root for.



Also, here's a controversial (maybe) answer: His Girl Friday

Don't get me wrong--I totally rooted for them to be partners. But romantic partners? Nah. They have high-quality partner/co-worker vibes. But for me there was a serious lack of sexual spark between them.

I feel like ideally they'd work together and continue to spar and challenge each other, but they'd each have a handful of no-strings-attached sex buddies.