Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Glory of Love

In 1986 moviegoers were tormented with a sequel to Karate Kid. I won't discuss the movie in detail (Bill Simmons, the Sports Guy at ESPN, has a brilliant analysis of the trilogy here). The movie was on today and it brought to mind (my brain was about to bleed) the horrible Peter Cetera song, "The Glory of Love." Although I watched a bit of the movie, I was fortunate not to have to hear the song (this is why my ears or brain did not bleed, I think). Besides being insipid enough as a musical composition, the song is emblematic of unhealthy ideas about love and romance portrayed in pop culture.

The poetic voice in the song shows may too much attachment to his partner in lines like "I will never leave you alone" and "I could never make it alone." Furthermore, he is defined by his lover in lines like "You keep me standing tall / You help me through it all / I'm always strong when you're beside me / I have always needed you / I could never make it alone." While the "romantic" sentiment in these words may occasionally be nice (and an acceptable, if cheesy, sentiment), the lines "I could never make it alone" are enough for one to say goodbye to a romantic suitor. Anyone who uses these lines is someone who betrays a strong dependency and should be avoided as a real-life suitor at all costs! Any book that lists reasons why not to marry someone list a partner who says "I can't live without you" as someone who isn't suited for marriage.

Perhaps the only reasonable part of the song is the couplet that stood out in my mind (I'm really glad I didn't hear the song today; it's bad enough having parts of the song going through my head only because of the association with the movie I didn't really care to watch) is the part, "I am a man who would fight for your honor. / I'll be the hero you're dreaming of." Of course, this is pretty pathetic but a nice sentiment. What woman wouldn't want a guy who can be a hero or who will fight to defend her (even if she can defend herself, thank you very much)? The part of this that is discomforting is the idea that the woman needs someone to fight for her. Is she a prostitute or some social undesirable that her love interest needs to defend her? If you think you need to defend her, then aren't you accepting as well that she is a bit undesirable?

Of course, supporting these worries about the song, are the lines, "That's like a knight in shining armor, / From a long time ago." At least the singer has situated his views correctly -- outdated. But he continues, "Just in time I will save the day / Take you to my castle far away." So he needs a weak woman so that he can be a hero and then he's going to kidnap the woman, hide her away from the world in his castle. That reminds me of what I read somewhere about the origins of the honeymoon. Apparently the bride was kidnapped and hidden until she was pregnant. By then, it was assumed that her family would prefer the husband-kidnapper-rapist to having an unmarried, pregnant daughter. That seems to sum up the mentality of this song nicely.

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