Do You Want the Guy Singing This Song?

Since we’ve been home under shelter-in-place orders, my husband and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary at home. Our botched celebration involved a plan for takeout and an at-home Paint-And-Pour event cobbled together from existing art supplies and our wine rack after the kids went to bed. Unfortunately, my husband had an allergic reaction to something in his dinner, so he ended up going to bed early after lounging on the couch watching a concert uploaded to YouTube.

We found and watched a few classic concerts over the following days and then received a recommendation for some similar music videos. As big fans of 80s music, we landed on REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” which inspired a spirited discussion.

For the record, I really like this song, and I’m pretty sure at one point I owned REO’s greatest hits album.

The Guy

From K’s perspective, the song’s male narrator sounds like a total flake. “Who would want to be in a relationship with a guy like that?” he asked me.

A guy who’s friends with a girl and doesn’t want to confess his feelings…

(“What started out as friendship has grown stronger and I only wish I had the strength to let it show”)

A guy claiming to have no sense of life purpose…

(“‘Cause I feel so secure when we’re together,” “Even as I wander,” and “My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you”)

A guy following the lead of this girl he seems to trust and believes he loves…

(“And it always seems that I’m following you, girl, ‘cause you take me to the places that alone I’d never find”)

A guy who apparently plans to crash on her couch until she reciprocates his feelings…

(“If I have to crawl upon the floor, come crashing through your door”)

Seriously, he’s acting like my kid throwing a tantrum and not respecting my boundaries…

The Girl

This analysis brought us to the girl. What kind of person is this woman? Based on the lyrics, she sounds like a really stable, capable person who goes after her goals and inspires longing in this guy she’s been friends with for a long time.

(“I feel so secure when we’re together,” “You give my life direction, you make everything so clear”, and “You’re a candle in the window on a cold, dark winter’s night”)

Who actually leaves candles in windows on winter nights anymore? The song is from the 1980s, when we had electricity. The last time I heard about someone doing this was during the Great Depression to offer extra food to the hungry, or that scene in the “Little House” books when Ma left the candle for Pa after a shopping trip to town went late.

K felt that the girl could do much better.

The Relationship 

While I don’t disagree, I then flipped the script and considered the fact that many of the romance novels I read, especially the historical ones, have a flaky, helpless heroine who thinks she has it all figured out but actually needs the big strong hero to come and fix her life for her. Oh, and he also has to love her because what is the point of stability in the Middle Ages without his telling her that he loves her?

Yes, now I’m questioning what I like about these alpha male heroes and the damsel-in-distress heroines who think they’re so brave…

Of course, since K has not read (any) romance novels to be able to appreciate the tropes, I also approached the song from a practical standpoint. Of course a spontaneous person would appreciate stability in their significant other, and surely a staid homebody could use a little less structure in their life and they relationships.

Just the same, we both questioned the long-term happiness of such a couple, where one is so dependent on the other to provide their purpose and direction.

The Conclusion

In the end, we did agree on one thing. The girl was a catch, and pretty soon this guy was going to be “wishing that I had Jessie’s girl.”

Types of Love Shown by Disney’s Princesses

Reading up on the types of love has helped me understand what I like and dislike about the different Disney princesses.

When you think about how a Disney princess exemplifies love, the relationships for many of the early princesses—Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora—appear to be focused on eros, at least as far as the princes are concerned. Mulan’s interest in Shang starts with eros, but her feelings evolve into respect and admiration for his character, not just his eight-pack. Even Ariel only demonstrates eros for Eric, whom she does not know at all except by sight.

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As much as I adore The Little Mermaid, her relationship with Eric is extremely superficial and borders on mania. I mean, she gave up her voice for a man. Rapunzel also shows mania, given her determination to see the floating lanterns.

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As far as ludus, Belle, Jasmine, Rapunzel, Anna, and Tiana show the building of their relationships through romance. To a much lesser degree, Mulan and Shang flirt, but they snip at each other more than anything else.

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Of the princesses demonstrating philia, the most obvious is Mulan, who saves first her entire troop on the mountain and then the emperor through the end of the movie. Anna demonstrates this in Frozen 2 when she awakens the mountain trolls.

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By the time Frozen 2 rolls around, Anna and Kristoff have reached as close to pragma as any Disney princess can through the short duration of the films. The best example I can offer is Mulan’s parents (who actually survive the story!) and the sorrow they share when her father is preparing to leave. Rapunzel’s parents also appear to share pragma in their grief and hope for finding their missing daughter.

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While Snow White, Aurora, and Ariel appears to share storge for the fairies, dwarves, and King Triton respectively, Cinderella doesn’t really have a loving relationship with anyone except her animal friends. Rapunzel even shows storge for Mother Gothel, despite the abusive control she exhibits to her adopted daughter. Mulan goes to war out of storge, because she doesn’t want her father to die. Similarly, Belle sacrifices herself as a prisoner to the Beast for her father. There is also obvious love between the sultan and Jasmine, as well as between Tiana and her family. The storge of Anna for Elsa forms the crux of both Frozen plots, and Elsa eventually shows the same deep-rooted affection for her sister by the end of the first movie. More heartbreaking is the storge Moana has for her family, especially her grandmother.

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Philautia is a little harder to observe, but Belle refuses Gaston because she knows she deserves better. Jasmine also appears to express her self-worth as she tells Aladdin and Jafar off for imagining they know her life better. Tiana knows her worth, too. She has a plan to run her own business, and she knows she has the skills needed to succeed. The rest of the princesses seem to significantly lack any sense of self-worth. In the case of Mulan, this is unfortunate, since the historical character went on to become a decorated commander. She would not have been so successful had she lacked faith in herself, which Disney reinforced through the song “Reflection” as well as her botched matchmaker visit.

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Finally, we come to agape. The first example that comes to mind is Moana, who is willing to sacrifice everything to save her people and is even able to find empathy for Te Ka, who is actively trying to kill her. Anna also exemplifies agape. She runs off to find her sister in Frozen to save all the people of her land from the endless winter Elsa has unleashed. The lesson of agape comes to Elsa a little later, but she goes into the unknown past to save a bunch of strangers who have been trapped by weird magic, and then, after her sister breaks the dam, races to rescue Arendelle from the coming wave that would have destroyed the homes of all her people.

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Largely because of the way they demonstrate different forms of love, Anna, Elsa, Moana, and Mulan present as more heroic and far less hollow than their fellow princesses.

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Obviously I don’t own any of these Disney characters. They make a good resource for study because of everyone’s familiarity with their stories. I also chose to leave  Pocahontas out of this analysis to avoid conflating the Disney character with the historic one.