Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Death of Platonic Friendships

Via Pinterest
   There seemed to be a bit of a movement a while back to recognize the importance of platonic (aka, not romantic) relationships for being just as important as romantic ones. But a groundswell has burst and suddenly platonic relationships in fiction are simply nowhere to be found. Even if there are platonic relationships in the piece of fiction itself, they are romanticized in the fanfiction. Case in point: Luke Skywalker in Star Wars is such a friendly guy, he makes platonic friendships with everyone. He's really close to Han and Leia, who end up being his sister and brother-in-law, which is a perfect representation of what their relationships ended up like. The father-son relationship between Luke and Vader is at the center of the entire trilogy. And yet, I have seen Star Wars fanfiction with Luke Skywalker having a romantic relationship with Han, with Leia, with Vader, and even occasionally with Palpatine. In fanfiction, you can find the strangest pairings imaginable, often based on the barest hints of platonic friendships between characters in the actual story. I'm not even going to open the can of worms that is the pairings in the Sequel Trilogy, but believe me, they are much worse than what I've just said about the Original Trilogy (and I haven't even gotten into the weirdness that is the Leia/Boba Fett ship. What even).
   This tendency to make everything romantic is obviously not staying in the realm of fanfiction. Tom Holland is accused of being gay because he has a best friend that is a guy whom he is roommates with now (which is just what Peter Parker did in the comics, moving in with his best friend Harry Osborne in college, and Peter Parker was very much a ladies' man). And this tendency is growing into the realms of the very disturbing; have you heard of the term "age is just a number" recently? In case you're wondering, this is a phrase excusing massive age gaps in romantic relationships. Not supporting this tendency seems to get people called homophobic, or worse. And yet, how many of us have had the relationships in our lives be solely romantic or sexual ones? Absolutely none of us. Most parents and children don't have a romantic relationship. Many siblings enjoy a close relationship and are never attracted to each other romantically. Sibling relationships are so very rarely portrayed in fiction, and yet when they are (Elsa and Anna, Thor and Loki), many see their relationships as romantic. I had a close best friend of my own age and gender for seven years, and never once was romantically attracted to her.
   My point is this: society today is trying to say that it's okay now to be whoever you want to be, and that women don't need a man to validate them, etc., but if you look at the way they treat everything as romantic these days, it's clear they actually believe the opposite is true. Everything in this culture seems to revolve around romantic relationships these days. If someone isn't attracted to someone of the opposite gender, they must be gay. If someone is close friends with anyone at all, no matter who they may be, they must be romantically involved. And it's incredibly damaging. We're essentially telling all the kids that they are worthless unless they have some sort of romantic relationship. And yet, of the demographics of romantic relationships, the ones the least properly represented is the one we all start out as: single. Everybody grows up single. Some people stay single, and that doesn't mean that there's something wrong with them, as the label "asexual" seems to imply. We all have incredibly fulfilling platonic relationships with people from all walks of life, with family, with coworkers, with best friends, with professors and teachers and anyone else that we may meet.
   It's okay if such-and-such relationship is platonic. It's okay to portray platonic relationships in media. It's okay for people to have best friends and roommates of the same gender and not be romantically attracted to each other. It's okay for men and women to have close, non-romantic relationships. And it's okay for you to be single, now, yesterday, and forever. After all, as the Apostle Paul said, "Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am."
   Let's not forget the value of simple friendships. We all have them, and sometimes, they're the most important relationships we can have.

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