Learning Romance from Disney

We’ve Got the Perfect Ingredients, So Why Can’t Isla Vista
Bring Back Romance?

When I was a freshman, I overheard someone call Isla Vista
Disneyland for adults. I always thought that term
applied to Las Vegas, but who was I to argue with an adamant
upperclassman?

disneyland.jpg

Now that I have a few years at UCSB under my proverbial belt, I
can see the truth in that statement — although I still think that
Vegas is still closer to Disney with debauchery. Still, I.V. does
have its Disneyland-esque qualities. We have an entire culture
built to cater to our every whim — from burritos at 3 a.m.
to blue books at supermarkets
— and the party scene is
entertaining enough to give the spinning teacups a run for their money. in%20halloween.jpg You could even go so far as to say that
at times — the week-long Halloween party, the celebrations after our soccer team won the NCAA
Championship
, and the All
Sorority Volleyball Tournament
to name a few — I.V. can be
downright magical.

But I.V. is no fantasyland. Instead of bouncy balls, we have
beer pong
tournaments. Instead of castles, we have crappy apartments. And
instead of romance, we have the walk of shame. I.V. might be
magical, but when it comes to romance, living here is no fairy
tale.

Forget trying to find prince charming. In I.V., you’re
lucky if you can find a guy willing to brave the line at
the keg
for you, and you’re even luckier if he actually
remembers to bring you that beer while dodging all the tall,
blonde Cinderellas who seem to pop up like
vultures
whenever a halfway decent guy shows the slightest
bit of interest in you. I’m not bitter or anything, but let’s be
honest here. A beer is nice and all, but it ain’t no glass
slipper
.

Recently, I was crashing at my friend’s house so my roommate and
her boyfriend could take full advantage of the fact that they’re
still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. We had
just left a little party at my house — one that, with far more
girls than boys, had quickly turned into a drunken Disney
sing-along
. aladdin.jpg As we lay in bed, with the love themes
from Aladdin and The Little
Mermaid
, still running through our heads, he rolled over
and told me that everything he knows about love, he learned from
watching Disney movies. Cute, right?

Well, not really. The other day my roommates and I, with The
Little Mermaid
still running through our heads — those Disney
songs are nothing, if not persistent — we decided to pop in my
roommate’s copy of the special edition Little Mermaid?
DVD.

At first, I could feel the little girl inside me, overwhelmed
with excitement and emotion as the first few bars of “Fathoms
Below” began to play. Those feelings lasted for about 10 minutes,
or for you connoisseurs, until about “Part of Your World.”
little%20mermaid.jpg By the time Ursula had stolen Ariel’s
voice, my adult self had overtaken my inner child
with thoughts like “She’s only 16! What does she know about love?”
and “She’s never even had a conversation with him and she’s willing
to give up her family and her voice for him.”

By the end of the film, I was rooting for
Ursula
. Sure, she’s mean, ugly, and way too friendly with
those creepy eels, but at least she’s an independent woman. After
watching the movie, I couldn’t help but be appalled that a film in
which, essentially, a beautiful and headstrong girl is only able to
find happiness once she snags her man by being silent and using
what Ursula calls her “body language,” helped to shape my
childhood.

No wonder all of us I.V. residents are so devoid of
romance
— we grew up watching our mothers balance careers
and family, seeing Hillary Clinton being just as strong and
powerful as her presidential husband, and learning that girls can
do anything and everything boys can. Yet, everything we know about
romance, we learned from Disney movies like The Little
Mermaid
. Talk about a disconnect.

As a film major, it’s even worse for me. Not only have I been
conditioned by Disney to believe that body language is the key to
winning the heart of whatever prince I may have fallen madly in
love with after two seconds of contact on an idyllic beach, but I
also expect that the prince will woo me with a full orchestral
score and three-point lighting system behind him. Not to mention
rain — there has to be rain.

My notion of romance doesn’t stand a chance at the
University of Casual Sex and Beer. romance.jpg So, what’s a girl, weaned on Disney
movies and raised on classical Hollywood to do? I consider myself
to be strong, independent, and capable — I work three jobs, I pay
most of my own bills, and I pride myself on being able to cook a
mean dinner and an even meaner dessert without making my mascara
run. I would like to think that when it comes to
reconciling feminism with femininity, I do a
pretty good job.

But, there’s still the issue of romance. Forget bringing sexy
back, it’s already here. We need to bring romance back. And
fast.

We live in I.V., where there are almost 20,000 eligible people
our age crammed together in one square mile. That’s an
incredible opportunity.
Add the many opportunities to meet
people and the incredible amount of activities and entertainment
available within an hour or two of I.V. into the mix and once
again, it’s easy to see why one could consider I.V. to be a magical
place for dating and mating.

So why can’t we have romance too? Why can’t the walk of shame be
turned into the stride of pride? Why can’t sharing a beer
be as sweet as sharing a plate of spaghetti?
And why can’t
walking someone home from a party be as romantic as helping a
rain-soaked Holly Golightly find her lost cat?

I’m not saying us girls need to turn into silent
seductresses
, nor do I think we should rely on body
language to lure our guys. And guys, please don’t revert back to
swashbuckling idiots. I don’t want a prince who
can’t play Scrabble with me. But, I do think we could adapt, rather
than adopt.

It wouldn’t kill us to inject a little romance back into our
lives, even if that just means making sure to bring your girl her
beer before you surreptitiously check out all the Cinderellas in
the room. And, in the interest of practicing what I preach, here’s
my first contribution to bringing romance back in I.V.

To that guy, the one who let me crash at his place last weekend
and then bought me breakfast in the morning: We’ve been friends for
a long time, I really care about you, and I think you feel the same
way. I can’t promise any happy endings, but I would love to go on a
date sometime.

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