Culture is arguably the most significant factor that influences a society’s perceptions on important fundamental themes such as happiness, beauty, and heroism (just to name a few) to a certain extent. In the modern day and age, the vast free flow of ideas made possible by the mass expansion of digitalization has been unlike anything ever seen before, which has had a great influence on current Popular Culture (which, from hereon, is going to be referred to as “Pop Culture”). Pop Culture’s views and perspectives on themes such as those mentioned previously as portrayed in modern music, movies, TV shows, literature, and other forms of creative expressions have changed quite significantly over the past couple of decades. However, out of all the changes in perception of certain topics, the one that seems to be most prevalent in 21st century Pop Culture is in regards to love and romance.
The way in which romance is portrayed by current Pop Culture is a far cry as to how it used to be. Pop Culture nowadays rarely looks at romance through the lens of traditional values such as that of abstinence (from sex) before marriage or the nuclear family. Rather, it is now seen in a more (you could say) reductive way, focusing more on the instant pleasures one can get from it, rather than the deeper and more meaningful connections that take time to form and establish. This is evident in the rise of “hookup culture,” (arguably, one of the biggest influence Pop Culture has had) which according to the American Psychological Association, refers to the concept of “brief uncommitted sexual encounters between individuals who are not romantic partners or dating each other.” Current Pop Culture also portrays the concept of love and romance in a more “open” way with messages of “love whoever you want” regardless of race, ethnicity, or even sex being pushed in a lot of media in Pop Culture. This point is especially seen in the increase of LGBTQ+ representation and interracial couples in a lot of the current TV shows and movies. With all of these things in mind, here are some reasons on how modern Pop Culture’s perception of romance could be considered “healthy”.
I do admit that trying to argue about Pop Culture’s perception on romance being a good and healthy thing is quite hard, maybe even impossible to do, especially if the one you are trying to persuade looks at the world through a more conservative, religious lens. One’s fundamental worldview after all is the framework upon which his perceptions are based upon. I myself do not completely agree with the stance I was assigned to defend, but for the sake of argument, this article will tackle the topic on a more secular, or (you could say) materialistic perspective. Secularism, after all, has had a great influence on Pop Culture, and it is in my opinion the best way such a stance can truly be justified.
Pop Culture’s open view of love and romance encourages people to explore who they are as individuals. People will get to know themselves better by finding out their preferred traits in a partner to a fuller extent than they otherwise would have. The idea of embracing who you are and being free to love who you want to love has been promoted more in this day and age. With society (Western society in particular) gradually becoming more accepting and tolerant towards people of certain minorities which have been historically discriminated against, such as those of different sexual orientations and races, different aspects of Pop Culture, especially in regards to forms of entertainment such as movies, shows, and even literature have been much more inclusive to people of these groups and have often strived to make sure that these people are recognized and properly represented. This may encourage people from these minorities to express who they are and gradually get rid of some of the stigma society still holds towards these people. Having an environment where people can show and express who they genuinely are and be with who they want to be with regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, or any other possible group without having to fear of being excluded and discriminated against is very important. It is these sorts of environments after all, as suggested by the Australian Government Department of Health, that are conducive for overall healthier mental states.
Pop Culture’s perception of romance is indeed a reflection of the current era it is a product of, which in this case, is marked by shift on societal perspective in favour of a more progressive, secular outlook. Though it is far from perfect, there are still some reasons for one to think of this perspective as “healthy,” such as it encouraging self discovery, exploring one’s individuality and helping lift stigmas held by society towards certain minorities, which helps promote tolerance. In the end, I think the answer to this issue all lies in one's fundamental worldview, while I did approach this issue in a more secular perspective, I did it merely for the sake of argument. I think that it is very important that we be wary of how we approach such topics as Christians, and make sure that our perspective aligns with that of God’s own plan and design as said in His word.
Bouxsein, B. (2019, April). An analysis of the depiction of romantic relationships in Western cinema compared to cultural perceptions of relationships. Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/apexprod/rws_etd/send_file/send?accession=ouhonors1556721347157763&disposition=inline
Department of Health. (2019). Sexuality. Retrieved from Australian Government website: https://www.headtohealth.gov.au/supporting-yourself/support-for/sexuality
Garcia, J. R., Reiber, C., Massey, S. G., & Merriwether, A. M. (2013, February). Sexual hook-up culture. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/02/ce-corner
Staples, L. (2019, December 26). Did culture really embrace queer people this decade? Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20191218-the-decade-that-saw-queerness-go-mainstream