Here’s Looking at You Romance!!!
How often do we really ask our self if our interpretation of romance is socially constructed around our gender? When you think about romance what is it that comes to mind? For me it is Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blane forfeiting the opportunity to escape a dangerous political situation with the love of his life Ilsa Lund in the Academy Award winning Best Picture, Casablanca! What made that moment romantic is somewhat morbid, but none the less, provocatively sexy. Bogart’s Rick tells Bergman’s Ilsa that their love is not meant to be because it stands in the way of them both making a significant contribution to the possibility of a better world. A love that is as deep as theirs could only be ended by some major catastrophe. To watch them both experience the pain of a loss of their one true love— with a recognition that it needed to happen—brought a painful appreciation of their poetically tragic situation. It also makes one ponder the question is love sweeter in our memory when it can’t be fulfilled, or is short-lived? Perhaps more interesting than that question is this one, what would a feminist Ilsa’s reaction be to Rick’s overtures?
What is your definition of romance? How important is romance and sex, romance and love, and/or romance and marriage to one another? .In the Philosophies on Romance, Sex, Love, & Marriage class that I teach at SUNY Plattsburgh, we watch various film clips that accentuate the readings with visual images which frame the four themes we cover in the class. In “Out Of Sight” George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez somewhat mirror Bergman and Bogart’s characters’ extremely romantic, albeit unattainable love. In “Feeling Minnesota” Cameron Diaz and Keanu Reeves buck tradition and serious odds by stealing away together. In “Love Jones” Nia Long and Larenz Tate weather miscommunication and their own insecurities, finally succumbing to the habit of love. In “Bound” two women intimately discover one another and then conspire to rob and exploit the mob to better situate their opportunities. In “About Last Night”—originally titled “Sexual Perversity in Chicago”—Demi Moore and Rob Lowe overcome backbiting friends to arrive in a better space. What all these scenarios have in common is the fact that during all of their journeys they experienced a plethora of romantic moments.
What are the romantic moments that you have experienced or witnessed during your life? What are the films that forever frame the romantic moment? What are the songs that transport you to a romantic place. Does LTD’s “Love Ballad” appear on your list of romantic songs? How about Billy Joel’s “I Love You Just the Way You Are,” Brenda Russell’s “Get Here” or Marvin Gaye’s “Come Get to This?”
Perhaps my notion of romance will vary greatly from a woman’s, an Asian male’s, a differently abled person, a lesbian, an impoverished or wealthy couple, or a person originating from a First People’s (Indigenous) perspective. As an able bodied-heterosexual-petit bourgeoisie-Black-African American male I think provocative conversation with like minded people passionate about their philosophical perspectives is exhilarating if not outright titillating. How is a person that you find visually engaging while she/he is comfortably dropping pearls of wisdom consistently, stealthily and seductively not somehow entering and exiting the realm of sexy?
What is the reality that you originate from and how does your concept of romance differ from the person you just passed? Why don’t you help others visit the panoply of possibilities for considerations of romance by taking the time to paint a picture of romance that shows exactly how different the concept can be to a wide array of people?