December 17, 2008, - 2:14 pm

Important Study: Chick Flicks Are Evil; Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, J-Lo Ruin Marriages (Other Than Their Own)

By Debbie Schlussel
Among other things, Reader Ari frequently sends me stuff about how TV and movies give people the wrong idea about love and marriage (and other stuff). Yes, the concept is elementary, but the stuff Ari sends is far deeper stuff, and more funny.
And today, he sent this. Bottom line, as Ari say, “Chick flicks are evil.” Yup, Julia Roberts didn’t just ruin the marriage of her husband, cameraman Danny Moder, to his first wife. She also ruins marriages around the world–at least the marriages of those women who watch this crap (and probably worship Oprah, too). The same goes for Meg Ryan and J-Lo, and not just with Dennis Quaid, Diddy, and Ben Affleck.
Although it doesn’t say in the article–they don’t want to sound sexist and gotta be PC for you and me–I think it’s the women. Men are generally not the ones who believe in ESP in relationships. That’s the stuff of romance novels and other pop culture offerings consumed by women.
Bad for Your & Their Relationships . . .


Watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life, a study by a university in Edinburgh has claimed.
Rom-coms have been blamed by relationship experts at Heriot Watt University for promoting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.
They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.
Many held the view if someone is meant to be with you, then they should know what you want without you telling them.
Psychologists at the family and personal relationships laboratory at the university studied 40 top box office hits between 1995 and 2005, and identified common themes which they believed were unrealistic.
The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise
The movies included You’ve Got Mail, Maid In Manhattan, The Wedding Planner and While You Were Sleeping.
The university’s Dr Bjarne Holmes said: “Marriage counsellors often see couples who believe that sex should always be perfect, and if someone is meant to be with you then they will know what you want without you needing to communicate it.
“We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds.
“The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise.”
The study says watching romantic comedies can spoil your love life.
As part of the project, 100 student volunteers were asked to watch the 2001 romantic comedy Serendipity, while a further 100 watched a David Lynch drama.
Students watching the romantic film were later found to be more likely to believe in fate and destiny. A further study found that fans of romantic comedies had a stronger belief in predestined love.
Kimberly Johnson, who also worked on the study, said: “Films do capture the excitement of new relationships but they also wrongly suggest that trust and committed love exist from the moment people meet, whereas these are qualities that normally take years to develop.”

Writes Ari:

I have always said that there is nothing true in the movies. Mythbusters have pretty comprehensively proven that any and all physics in the movies is a bunch of crap. It is quite obvious that the notions of “Love” in the movies is also crap. AND it’s damaging.

He’s so right. I’d bet if they did another study, they’d find that people who watch more movies are more likely to get or be divorced, and people who watch fewer or no movies are more happy in their relationships and have more stable ones.
By the way, remember “Pretty Woman”? The hooker is the heroine who lives happily every after. Yup, sounds exactly like real life.

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15 Responses

Agreed. All astute observations and something I never thought about in thsi context. The other day while watching Howard Stern, they had another yet young woman hooker (this one pregnant) from the “Bunny Ranch” brothel who claims she got the idea that becoming a prostitute was glamorous, lucractive and fun after watching an HBO series that featured the cat house. Absolutely pop media messages can and do corrupt people.

ObamaSlammaJamma on December 17, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Aw, these are some of my favorite movies. I like movies with happy endings.
The methodology in these studies is always important, and due to differing methodologal assumptions, such studies can frequently contradict each other. The volunteers here were students, and thus, almost by definition, not fully mature, and probably, at least in general, had not been introduced to successful long-term relationships. I wonder what the results would have been if the populations in the study were ten years older.
Movies like this are not new. Romantic comedies, usually with happy endings date back before the 1930s depression, and I’m not aware of any findings that they led to divorce in past eras. And of course media portrayals are not one-sided. There are tons of stories in the media about people cheating, etc., etc. Marriage and relationship outcomes are, I think, multi-determined, and a study that attempts to extract one variable may simplify the situation.

c f on December 17, 2008 at 2:54 pm

A college Professor I once had told our class the secret to any marriage is to make sure you are not the happier spouse.
At any rate, after 18 years of marriage I can state that relying on ESP and expecting your partner to rely on it violates one fundamental rule of any relationship, but especially marriage. That is communication.
It is true that after a while you and your partner will know what each of you want. However, it is a mistake to take this for granted and to depend on it.

i_am_me on December 17, 2008 at 3:07 pm

“Please think harder, as I am having trouble reading your mind.”

rickster on December 17, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I swear that this is one of the main reasons why my marriage ended and I am now divorced. My ex-wife gets a lot of her expectations and social cues about relationships from watching TV and these lame chick flicks. She has the social engineering of a 15 year old girl.

Yiddish Steel on December 17, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Romantic comedies depict an idealized form of love. Its just fantasy. No human being on earth can know what someone wants. The truth is love, commitment and trust take years to be realized. What’s sad is most people put more care into finding out about their home purchase or their car purchase than about finding all they can about the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. If you’re asked how much you really know about a person – the answer is not everything. Even married couples don’t know all there is to know about their spouse after living together with them for a lifetime. By all means, enjoy the romantic movies as good, frothy fun. But don’t take them for a realistic guide to relationships or to what you might expect of the opposite sex.

NormanF on December 17, 2008 at 4:11 pm

How real is her love?

californiascreaming on December 17, 2008 at 4:46 pm

I can’t for the life of me understand how anyone with half a brain can stomach the chickflik and chicklit crap. Meg Ryan, Julia Roberts, Diane Keaton and the other chick clowns make my skin crawl. Eeeewwww. Add Orpah the whale to that list.

lexi on December 17, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Debbie, I saw “Gran Torino” and it was good like you said. The part where he saved the girl from the black gang was odd, though. It mostly looked like four classically trained gay men pretending to be hoodlums. But the generational decline we saw in Walt’s family I’m pretty sure is really happening. I talk to a lot of kids from all types of families, and although some are charming and some respectful, many are empty vessels just waiting to be filled with some BS. The parents now are clueless and mostly seek conflict avoidance and low maintenance solutions. If I had to pick one factor that has really screwed kids over, its the rise of the career mom. These families feel a need to live a certain lifestyle, but it’s generally at the expense of the kids. Eastwood really captured that change in “GT”.

Anonymous1 on December 17, 2008 at 11:25 pm

It would help as well that if these women that think they should have a movie like life, spent sometime looking and acting like these women and they might find they get a different reaction at home. I know if I came home to find J-Lo in my kitchen there would probably be a different vibe in my house.

Mark on December 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm

I have been married 25 years I told my wife, I will be Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing if you will be ( insert your favorite porn stars name ) 50% of the time.
And someone mentioned Oprah, she is a millionaire who loves telling women who they should be, but all the while she has never been married, gains weight and loses weight. Never seems to me that she can get herself together even with help of a personal chef and Dr Phil as well as personal trainers. Why do people listen to her. She is harmful to women. I just don’t see why she receives so much credit.

Mark on December 18, 2008 at 12:39 pm

“Pretty Woman”? Yeah where was her pimp? Ever see the tripe of a movie called “My Best Friends Wedding” with Julia Roberts and the insufferable Cameron Diaz? The synopsis is that Julia Roberts tries to break up her best friends wedding. Lovely.

Ripper on December 18, 2008 at 12:43 pm

Have never understood the allure of Julia Roberts. She is far from beautiful and a one-dimensinal actress. Yes, yes, she won an Oscar, which alone should be evidence of how useless an award it is. It’s a popularity contest.

richardzowie on December 20, 2008 at 10:54 pm

I think religious male leaders are also part of the problem as they always women out to be the better gender and men as idiots the end result being women are overconfident and don’t change their bad behavior because they think everything they do is right.

adam6275 on December 21, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Cool…great to hear more about my total favorite celerbrity. Thanks for the helpful info. Well done!

Freelance Fred on April 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

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