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Monday, 15 February 2016

Editorial: 5 More Terrible Romances in Fiction.

Editorial: 5 More Terrible Romances in Fiction.

Last year for Valentine's Day, I celebrated some of my most hated romantic subplots, and it was a magical time for everyone. But, as it turns out, I have so much more hate to give, and writers of television, film, and video games keep giving me more romance plots to dislike.

While last year I ruled out any romance story that was the main plot of the story it's a part of - thus excluding two of the pairings here - this year I am gleefully indulging in hating both subplots and main plots.

Clarke/Finn, The 100.

Clarke and, er, someone. Who is that? Does anyone know? Is that Bellamy?

It feels like ages since Finn was even alive on The 100, so quickly did he fade from our collective memories after his passing - ours and the characters', actually, as nobody has even mentioned him in recent episodes.

As with most of these pairings, it's only one party that's the problem, and in this case, that party is Finn. Finn, who has silly hair and the personality of a brick with a smiley face drawn on it. Finn, who was perpetually outshone by nearly everyone else in the cast. Finn, whose face I cannot quite remember any more.

When the show tried to make the plot more interesting by complicating it somewhat, creating a sort-of-love-triangle with the introduction of Finn's girlfriend Raven, it just fell flat. It was difficult enough to buy that one girl would be interested in him, let alone that two would want to compete over him.

Carter/Kendra, Legends of Tomorrow. 

Cart 'er? You barely know 'er!

You know what's the absolute quickest way to sour people to a romance? Constantly having one of the characters involved rant that it's destiny and it has to happen.

Fair play to Legends of Tomorrow for actually having Kendra address that (because, let's face it, Kendra isn't the problem in this pairing, it's Carter), only to then less than an episode later have her remember their relationship and fall in love with Carter, just in time for him to die and for any positive message attached to her rejecting his notion of destiny to be killed stone dead.

Theirs was a short lived romance, given that Vandal Savage stabbed Carver to death mere minutes after Kendra realised she loved him, but it was still far too long for my liking.

Solas/The Inquisitor, Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Solas and Inquisitor Not-Appearing-In-This-Editorial.

Some people say the Solas/Inquisitor romance is really good, because it's important in life for some people to be wrong about things and they've bravely made that sacrifice, but let's be honest here: Even before you find out that Solas is actually Fen'harel, he's kind of - he's kind of Solas.

By which I mean he's judgmental, arrogant, irritating, and is in essence the ultimate hipster, interrupting any remark on anything with a scathing remark that it, whatever it might be, was so much better when the elves of Arlathan did it.

How many birthday parties do you think he's ruined by bursting through the great hall's doors, party hat askew on his shining head, and snarling that this party pales in comparison to the exquisite birthday celebrations of Arlathan, which lasted a whole calendar year? How many romantic dinners has he ruined by constantly dropping menacing hints to his true identity into a conversation on the choice of wine? Can you imagine taking him to visit your parents, only for him to sneer at them for the entire weekend?

Solas just isn't romance material, guys. I'm not even saying that just because he's bald, although I am saying that mostly because he's bald.

Miaka/Tamahome, Fushigi Yuugi.

All of the official art is like this, to be honest.

What exactly is Tamahome's personality? Can anyone tell me? Because I read the manga and watched the anime and to be honest, I'm stumped. Is his personality just 'romantic interest?' Because it seems like it might be.

This wouldn't be so bad if Miaka had a particularly strong personality, but instead she's such a passive figure whose primary character traits involve being helpless and being kind of self-absorbed, leaving us with what is essentially a romantic subplot between a damsel-in-distress and a desk lamp. Not even a particularly interesting desk lamp, just a desk lamp.

Which is odd, because Watase Yuu can write good characters. Yui and Takiko come off as twenty times as engaging and well-written as Miaka, and there's many fine possible love interests in the form of Tasuki and - er, actually, mostly just Tasuki. And yet, and yet, we've ended up with the two worst characters together.

Pocahontas/John Smith, Disney's Pocahontas.

I don't have a witty caption, I just have disdain.

Let's be honest here, if your starting point for a romantic subplot is 'how can we romanticise the vicious abuses visited upon an imprisoned child by her captors, slowly eroding away her identity and personhood until she can be shaped into an figurehead for a racist, colonial idea', you are already off to a fairly poor start.

But even if we forget that we all know that; even if we forget that the iconic 'Pocahontas saves John Smith from execution' story that forms much of the foundation of the film was a total lie that John Smith had told about numerous different women from numerous different countries, forming a strange narrative of his life in which he is constantly getting sentenced to death and constantly being saved by women half his age; even if we blithely ignore that whole genocide thing, it would still be a terrible romance.

John Smith as given to us in the film hates Pocahontas' people, consistently describing them as savages, often to Pocahontas' face, which she just kind of accepts with only token resistance in the form of a song about nature (classy, Disney, real classy). He's part of an invasive force of settlers. He's complicit in the murder of one of her friends, even if he's not the one who pulls the trigger. 

I realise that it was 1995, but, you know, we still had standards in 1995, Disney. Also, ethics and the ability to read history books, we had those too in 1995, you just apparently didn't avail yourself of them.

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