Watch this epic takedown of movie plots featuring abduction as romance

The way Carrie Fisher told the story they showed her a picture of the gold bikini to scare her into going to a Hollywood Fat Camp before shooting started.

When Luke shows up in Jabba’s palace Leia doesn’t even say a word of acknowledgement. Fisher claimed that’s because she was concentrating on holding her breath while sucking in her gut.


Are you sure you watched the right video? The one I watched was about the abduction of women in film, the portrayal of men who abduct women in film, and how the women who are abducted in these films commonly fall in love with their captor.

Your comment appears to be about something completely different from the focus of the video, the dynamics of abusive relationships in real life. Though he briefly touches upon this, it is not really what the video is about.


Carrie Fisher was a master of telling wild Hollywood anecdotes!


As long as we can discuss these things, keep wisening up, and laugh when we look back at the John Wayne characters I don’t see too much of a problem here.

What worries me about this video is all the conflation between story tropes and real life. A post online (I forget where exactly) addressed the demonization of problematic relationships in fiction this way:

…Fictional stories can also serve as a safe, consequence-free zone to explore interesting dynamics that are not always black and white or ideal. Most forms of fiction will dive into dark realms because it offers exploration into human nature that can’t be grasped or condoned in reality. That does not mean that the abuse that takes place is excused or modeled in real life but, ultimately, fiction isn’t there to be a role model or to teach people’s kid’s how to live.

I’ll withhold judgement on this kind of storytelling until I see evidence that it’s having a reasonable and measurable effect on people in the real world. Until then I’m putting these arguments against problematic relationships in fiction in the trash along with “having gay characters on screen is going to make people gay”.

No, what both of those do is normalise the concept.

In the case of putting minorities in major roles (LGBTQ+, POC, etc.) normalisation is a good thing. It lets the viewer watch and sympathise with people, which can then bleed over into real life, and even lead to acceptance. It lets people who are part of those groups feel represented.

In the case of “Kidnapping as Romance” and “Stalking as Romance”, it normalises abusive behaviour. People don’t even recognise it for what it is. Almost every woman can tell you stories about the guy who wouldn’t take no for an answer. You don’t have to look far to find guys (and it’s usually guys) who think that “no” means “I just need to change my approach or ask her again.”

Are lots of guys literally kidnapping women off the street and having said women fall in love with them? No, but plenty do display the red-flag tactics that the men in these narratives do. They identify with these narratives, with the guys who “take control”. Ask any woman who’s had to deal with being trapped in a back room at work because some guy really needed to tell her how he felt about her.

Ask the relatives of the women who have been killed because some overly entitled male was angry because despite him “following all the rules” and “being the nice/good guy”, women didn’t react the way they do in movies, and failed to give them the attention they felt they had earned.

The problem, is this narrative goes back such a long way, that it’s intrinsically tangled up in our culture, and the only way to see if there’s an effect like you want, would be to stop telling the stories, stop blindly accepting them, and see what changes.

It would take a few generations, but my bet would be “quite a bit”.


I’m sorry, I kinda see what you are aiming at, but it’s a false equivalence.

The idea that having gay characters on screen might make people gay is not generally occurring in an environment where gay people are expected to be gay and it is already being emphasized that you are entitled to be gay. Being gay doesn’t hurt anyone. And for many gay people, having a gay character on screen can be an empowering experience, because empowered gay characters are not a repetitive trope.

Whereas we ladies already feel we are in an environment where men are taught that they can expect to take our bodies for granted and they are entitled to them (lack of prosecution for rape, for example). I think we can agree that too many people (not limited to men but mainly men) are rapists and domestic abusers - and that this hurts people, mainly women. A repetitive trope that reinforces the idea that it’s ok for men to abuse women because women secretly “want” it can empower abusers and disempower the the abused.

*Edited to remove my last paragraph, because even though I knew what I was trying to say with it I am too tired to say it coherently.

*Edit to give one last try at making my final point - I could agree with you that tropes exploring “problematic” relationships are ok if we were talking about consensual non-coercive relationships. But this trope is saying consent can be retconned. That is not how consent works.


They can be safe and consequence free! At least, in the hands of a careful storyteller.

The prevalence and structure of this trope does not lend itself to that description, though.


Well stated. This disturbing story is on the front page of HuffPo right now:

Marie Laguerre, 22, told French media that the man had been bombarding her with sexually harassing taunts, and he struck her after she told him to shut up.

In the end it comes down to dominance and control of men over women, and society’s acceptance of it. And film portrayals that condone such behavior only perpetuate it, which is why it’s time to start telling different stories.


Sorry I’m not sure which part you were “no-ing” about - my rant was a little outta left-field. :roll_eyes:

I’m aware of normalization and am happy to revise my position. I just haven’t seen any good evidence demonstrate the “abduction as romance” trope in fiction informs the real world and suspect it’s more the other way around.

My main issue was the general conflation or fictional characters and tropes in Hollywood movies with people in the real world. The author’s not wrong when he says:

But in the real world love affairs like this will likely lead to abusive relationships…


Real redemption requires taking responsibility for your actions.

But this is not the real world or an ethics course.
It’s fictional (often shitty) storytelling.
Most people don’t go to the cinema to watch real people behave as they ought to.

I’m far more concerned with the normalization of physical violence in the fictional tropes children’s minds are exposed to rather than dickhead anti-heros in crappy adult blockbusters. :roll_eyes:
(edit: Because I think the effects are more pervasive not the issue more important)

I see what you mean.
I guess I think responsibility lies in the eye of the beholder
If viewers see a character who abducts and abuses as a “hero” or “role model” surely the bulk of the problem lies with them and not the writers.

People don’t watch GoT for morality plays or flawless protagonists.
Surely adults can admire the character’s admirable qualities, be disgusted by immoral actions, and empathize with them despite their flaws - even with crappy storytelling.
Hell, I pity most antagonists in fiction! :blush:

Sorry I didn’t mean to equivocate the two arguments, just demonstrate that I think they’re both trash. All they had in common was my feeling that fears about the negative effects on society of allegedly problematic fictional characters in some peoples eyes may be exaggerated.

I think I’m just overly wary about the idea of policing what’s appropriate for fictional storytellers to explore.

I hope I didn’t minimize the realities of society’s pernicious hierarchies of sexes and violence.
I guess I just never read any of the violence and abuse in those movies in the essay as if they was being presented as “ok”.
Maybe this is where my disconnect lies.

(Edit:Sorry for the length, far too late for me to be commenting too.)
(Edit: Sorry for replying to the wrong person as well!)

At the one minute mark, the harasser seems to be saying, “What are you gonna do about it?”, which makes me just as angry with Chair Guy and the others over their lack of action.
One doesn’t have to beat him up, but those three guys could have held him until police arrived.

(I probably would have hit him with the chair, tho.)


You’re suggesting all those screenwriters were inspired by real-life love stories that began as abductions??


Come on… every one knows that women want that shit! They just are afraid to admit it in this current feminazi atmosphere bent on destroying men and romance!




It is a worthwhile analysis of that particular plot device, though I think I would have no interest in going to watch any of these movies mainly because of the whole Hollywood stereotype. And the fact that some of this goes back to fairy tales and myths is telling such as Beauty and the Beast or East of the Sun (though in both cases the man is under some curse beyond his control) though this is certainly not the case with Zeus and his abductions ie Europa etc., or Achilles being upset because he had to give up his favourite slave girl.

As Maria Tatar points out in her abridged version of Grimm’s Fairy tales, women typically had little power
the exceptions being either witches or evil stepmothers, and in both cases we are expected to view them as evil.

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Hiding that little /S in the corner? You’re upping your game… :+1:




Thanks for your reply.
Yes I think where your disconnect lies is in the way the movie excerpts are presented in the essay vs. The audio content. The essay’s video clips are intentionally showing the “worst” parts of these films, to demonstrate how horrible the treatment of the women is - which is half of the focus of the essay.
But the other half of the trope, and the point of the essay discussed in audio but not shown as much in video clips, is that these stories are told such that all the viewer’s empathy goes to the male character. So that 95% of the time this treatment comes to be viewed by the female character (and by extension the audience) as inevitable, acceptable, or at least forgivable, because reasons and luuuuurv. Not once in a while as a single problematic relationship by the occasional storyteller, but over and over and over again.

The violence is not presented as ok in the essay - because their point is that it’s not ok - but the violence is presented as ok in the source material. And that is why this trope needs to die.


You know, this trope is also present in the video for “Come on Eileen,” though in a somewhat milder version than the film examples. The girl resists Rowland until he physically dominates her at the end:


Heh I think Chair Guy was just trying to impress his date by appearing strong and decisive, but in reality he didn’t want to get into a scrap with someone.

Of course not.
I apologize for my poor communication (I broke my forum rules and posted about a sensitive topic in the wee hours while inebriated and overtired).

What I was saying there is:

  1. I haven’t seen good evidence that this trope causes abduction romance in the real world.
  2. I suspect the real world has influenced this fictional trope more than the other way around.

I’m could be wrong and am open to being schooled on both points.
What I most definitely didn’t intend to convey is:

  • That I think all screenwriters are inspired by real-life abductions. (The claim sounds absurd to me.)
  • That good evidence doesn’t exist that this trope causes abduction romance in the real world.
    (Of course the the onus is on me to look for the evidence and inform myself but sometimes informed commenters here set me straight with a quick reference.)
  • That survivors of abuse couldn’t experience trauma from seeing it on screen.
  • That abusers and their enablers won’t rationalize their abuse by saying they saw it on screen.
  • That women or men deserve or want “that shit” like @Mindysan33 was ridiculing,

No excuse for dodgy worded concepts that deserve to be called out but my English isn’t the best and sometimes it’s useful to be charitable with arguments. If you read a comment that can be interpreted multiple ways and one interpretation is absolutely absurd you should probably attribute the least bizarre interpretation!

Sure, and I hope times are changing.

But is there something wrong with empathizing with flawed fictional characters: protagonist, antagonist, or anti-hero? And isn’t fiction the perfect place to explore sympathy and empathy for people who have make terrible decisions?

Fiction serves as a good vehicle to discuss these serious issues but the angle of blaming the filmmakers for showing abuse tropes on screen and for portraying them differently to how it may happen in real life seems counterproductive and problematic to me.

It’s fictional storytelling and when abuse by characters is “acceptable” for the purposes of telling a story is different to when it is acceptable in real life (i.e. never!).

But how much is presentation vs perception? Maybe the storyteller’s are presenting flawed anti-hero’s and the viewers perceiving them as flawless protagonists?

And I don’t know if the trope will ever die. Stories utilizing the Hades/Persephone Monster/Maiden tropes have been around for a looong time and still strike a chord. (see films like Phantom of the Opera, Edward Scissor Hands, King Kong, Beauty and The Beast, the new Star Wars etc…)


And I’m not so sure if it should die. What gives me pause is the females who choose to harmlessly explore fictional fantasies involving romance and sexual awakening with villains, monsters, and male abductors. I don’t want to deny them the opportunity to play with the tropes.

What I do hope to see as people wisen up is audiences not viewing film protagonists as role-models and seeing males on screen who exhibit abusive behavior toward women being relegated to an anti-hero or antagonist status.:crossed_fingers:

Edits: GIF of abduction/romance movies won’t load.