There’s a line in the 1993 movie Demolition Man that tells us that in the future all restaurants are Taco Bell — they won the restaurant wars. I’d like to suggest that romance is already winning the genre war.
I’m not saying that every book or movie or play is, or will be, a romance. (To be a true romance the relationship has to be central, and there has to be a happily-ever-after (HEA) ending for the couple. Not necessarily marriage, but an optimistic or happy-for-now conclusion.) But look around. Romance is an element in almost every form of entertainment out there. Even in traditionally male oriented action/adventure dominated by explosions and car chases there’s often a love interest. In the Bond movies, where Bond is a love ’em and leave ’em kind of guy, one lucky girl always wins an all expenses paid holiday with Bond at the end of the adventure. Love, even temporary love, is seen as a reward.
Hugh MacLeod, cartoonist and author, expresses a sentiment on one of his fine art prints that I really like: “A story without love is not worth the telling.” He’s not referring only to romantic love, but it’s certainly included.
We’re wired to connect. We need community and we need a sanctuary where we can take refuge from the wild world, where we can feel safe. For many of us that sanctuary is a loving relationship. There’s a reason online dating services are so successful. No wonder romance is winning the genre wars.