Last spring one of my friend’s teenage sons worked up his courage and asked a girl to the prom. He asked her very much like Harry Potter asking Cho Chang out in the Goblet of Fire, a scene that touches my heart every time I see it. Harry Potter stumbles, he stutters, he barely squeaks out the invitation. When this young man asked a girl to the prom in a similar clumsy way, her response was not the gentle letdown that Cho gives Harry.
This girl said: “Really? That’s how you’re asking me? Ask me again, but do it better next time.”
Of course girls have been swooning over romantic heroes since Heathcliff stalked the moors in Wuthering Heights, but at least these fictional characters were grown men. Our young women’s romantic expectations today are being poisoned by terrible male role models. No, not violent action stars. Not brutes or lawbreaking bad boys. These terrible role models are the impossibly perfect young men of romantic movies, who say the right thing at the right time, always look terrific and never stumble over words or have a single pimple. Today, young men in romantic movies are as suave, charming, and witty as a grown-up, because they are written by grown-ups. Here are three who are terrible role models. Young women who watch these improbably perfect young men and think that they exist are setting themselves up for disappointment.