Cinema, by its nature, is a voyeuristic medium as it provides a window into other people’s lives. But when does the act of looking become uncomfortable or invasive, even violating? And to whom?

Reading through various articles to learn the art of writing headlines, I stumbled upon a fantastic headline with a really disturbing story. Headlines mastery was promptly forgotten because I suddenly had so much to read say.

Today’s Just One Thing is about cinema’s favourite tropes – the stalker with a crush.

Now in real, if a stalker relentlessly pursued you, resorting to excessive and often disturbing lengths to “protect” you, you’d be really creeped out, right? But not in these shows and movies.

Gender and sexuality expert, Julia Lippman of the University of Michigan, points out that stalking can be seen as reflecting one of the great cultural myths of romantic love. And just like that, we get another sexist yet prevalent cinema trope – stalking = love.

The first good men to pop into my head were Jim from The Office, James from The End of the F*cking World, Jonathan Byers and Lucas Sinclair from Stranger Things, and Edward from Twilight. The one thing all these “good” men had in common was their persistent show of “love” until they got their desired result.

We are made to love these characters and defend their behaviour even. Love was largely defined by men up until Bell Hooks took it on herself to reimagine the rules of grammar surrounding love in All About Love.

Hooks struck deep and showed men how to express emotions fundamental to their being while addressing common concerns in The Will to Change. A book, nay guide, designed to help men reclaim the best part of themselves.

I know I took a jerky leap from a cinema trope to love in modern society. Jerky, yes, leap not so much. Films are desperate to connect with their audiences and fulfil society’s fancies. For me, the first step of decoding cinema semiotics is a deeper understanding of reality. And you, dear, shall have the best of both.

Yours,

Have a love interest that you don’t want to creep out? Give them the gift of Just One Thing.