When you're planning a Valentine's Day movie marathon, you're more than likely going to have at least a couple films that show a lovelorn character doggedly pursuing the object of their affection. But believe it or not, that third helping of teenage vampire drama just might be priming you to accept a real life stalker a little bit easier.
According to a recent study reported in Glamour, continued exposure to films like There's Something About Mary or Twilight help condition their audience to accept those grand, sweeping gestures of attraction that could come off as creepy in the real world. As it turns out, if the behavior of "persistent pursuit" is seen as romantic, then the more you watch, the more the behavior is seen as permissive. However, if it's seen as an overly scary pattern of behavior, then it's obviously going to cause a negative outlook on stalking.
Both "romantic" and "scary" groups were tested on random subjects in a 426 participant sample, comprised solely of females. Rest assured, there was also a control group that was shown neutral clips from a grab bag of films such as March Of The Penguins, which did nothing but reinforce that penguins are awesome. With the results of this study in mind, there are a couple of interesting aspects to consider.
First of all, it goes without saying that depictions of romantic behavior in films are going to have to come under some intense scrutiny in the future. With a positive correlation between the permission of unhealthy pursuit, and the romantic depiction of said behavior, audiences may want to think twice before watching too many Twilight films in a row. Not to mention, it's about time that those involved in the creative process should be thinking about the content they create and how it will effect the audience it's about to be enjoyed by. Though when you think about it, Hollywood's already been doing their part in that respect by transforming the February box office into a different animal altogether.
What used to be a normal dumping month, with the exception of Valentine's Day weekend being used as an obvious "date night" to push romantically themed content, February has become a month of experimentation. While part of that experiment was the release of Fifty Shades Of Grey, which probably fits the "scary" bill more than most films out there, this year brings Deadpool into the equation. And on top of the Marvel film's already spectacular looking prospects, films like Zoolander 2 and Hail, Caesar! also look to chip away at the market that once would have guaranteed the success of a film like How To Be Single.
However, the results of this study shouldn't stop you from indulging in some sort of marathon with your favorite romantic comedies. After all, it's not like watching Love Actually is going to automatically cause you to bring a stranger home at all costs. If anything, this should just serve as a reminder to everyone out there that these sorts of movies don't make the best playbook for actual romantic relations. They might be fun to watch, but if you try to follow someone halfway across the country to say you love them, you might not hear violins when the big moment comes.