It’s a common fixture on the big screen and on TV: love teams. They’re a good source of that much-needed “kilig” in our jaded times. But they also pose a lot of problems in our mainstream consciousness. Real or reel, love teams can be a little problematic and perhaps we need to re-evaluate what they can mean to us.
As a kid, some love teams were promoted so aggressively that I thought they were true-to-life couples. I thought it was cool. All you had to do was fall in love and you’ll get famous along with a string of endorsements. Sign me up!
That was the first sign of how these love teams peddle a false sense of relationships. Love shouldn’t be a commodity, packaged and achieved through whatever they are advertising. Up until the time I learned to tell fiction apart from reality, this allure of a love team stays. And it’s something dangerous to impress upon children as they turn into teenagers. Again, it’s easy to un-learn consciously. But we all know how our childhood can haunt us and turn into hang-ups.
Much like how rom-coms twist our idea of love, love teams also can sometimes enforce roles and tropes that can be limiting. A guy pursues a girl, while she fights off his wooing skills in this archaic notion of purity. There are times when the choice of love is pitted against a career. Wake up call: Women and men can have both. And women can have their go at pursuing the man.
These pairings are also often heterosexual. Where’s a good lesbian love team? Will we ever get one that is composed of two gay men, struggling through every day and perhaps teaching us the nuisances of gay relationships? Where’s that in our society and mainstream understanding? If the business of love teams is to tell stories that people can relate to, to have people they can root for even just within a soap opera, then we aren’t telling enough stories. We’re not connecting with another part of the majority. We’re not giving a spotlight on different relationships.
And you wonder why we are so behind in our LGBT laws?
Love teams draw in fans into a fantasy. There is nothing wrong in getting mushy for the sake of momentary escape. But with social media and fandoms, we see how these bring out the worse in people. Rivalries are created to fuel hate comments and even threats. It also becomes an unhealthy comparison game between the different pairings. It’s especially damaging for women, as we already battle with lookist standards, the female counterparts are pitted against one another. Oh, hello, good old misogyny. I almost didn’t see you there.
Other than this, fandoms can get brutal when their love teams “break up” or end up with other people in real life. There’s a discussion on who did something, who cheated, or who just didn’t make it work. When the on-screen romance turns into an real-life obsession, we need to step back on how we portray these love teams as well. But as it is, publicity wins most of the time even if it supports a twisted view as to how relationships should be.
Seeing how our entertainment scene always had love teams from way back and until today, I doubt that we will be able to erase it. And that’s okay. Nothing wrong with a love team that you don’t mind watching in the cinema when everything feels a little love less. But given their integral role in our celebrity culture, we need to hit pause and evaluate. The love team needs to evolve with the audience it’s communicating to. Otherwise, we are just showcasing damaging points of view masked in dramatic scenes and perfect smiles.
Art by Lara Intong
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