Our Obsession with Love Triangles: Books, Movies and Hype

Twilight, Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. These are just a few movie/soon-to-be-movie franchises that seemingly revolve around the ideal of the love triangle. For some reason, we have an obsession with love triangles.

While all of these books, deal with love triangles in some form, I’ve found that regardless of how much or little the book actually centers around them, the movie hype leads everyone to believe that the film only focuses on a love triangle. This in turn devalues the stories told in some of the books.

While Twilight has no real literary value, the love triangle is the driving force of the plot. So, consider this the baseline or Agent 0, if you will, of the obsession that we have with young adult novels and movies.

The Twilight phoneme went from completely unknown to a raging monster in figuratively three seconds. I read the books a few months before the first Twilight movie came out. They were okay. Nothing genius but an easy read to get sucked into. Then, screaming girls and Twilight moms trampled sanity, and Team Jacob vs. Team Edward exploded to exponential ridiculousness. Friendships were lost and battle lines were drawn.

The hyped up love triangle is very explainable in Twilight because that’s the story, but it’s not the case for many other book-turned-movies. Now, it seems that any popular young adult book-turned-movie has been plagued with this tragic development.

Take the Hunger Games. The story itself, barely focuses on the fact that Katniss has two guys who are in love with her. Her mind is so technical and jaded that her final decision of who to choose wasn’t even based on love. In fact, it’s an afterthought that the author threw in at the end. I was drawn to the story because of its relevance to what a society can believe when tradition blinds it.

But because of Peeta’s love for Katniss, and Gale’s as well, the hype for the film focused on who should be with Katniss, with little thought to the fact that the book and movie are about children being forced to slaughter each other on live TV. So, if the book doesn’t focus on a love triangle, and neither does the movie, then why all the hype?

Because it sells. See Hollywood (that sneaky guy) learned that if you exploit the love triangle, fans will pick sides and sales and media attention will increase. The world will be transfixed by the crazy women swooning over fictional characters, regardless of whether they hate the books and movies or not. In the case of Hunger Games, the actual plot was marred by the hype of the love triangle. The story in itself is a serious evaluation of society and the meaning of barbarism vs. civility.

Now to the future. It seems as though Hollywood will stop at nothing to keep this hype machine running. Enter Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. I love this book series. Yes, it has werewolves and vampires… but they’re the true-to-popular-legend kind. Yes there is a love story, it wouldn’t be YA fiction if it didn’t. Does it have a love triangle? Not really. But oh they will milk the inkling of a love triangle that’s briefly there.

In the City of Bones, Clary learns her mother has been kidnapped and she must seek the help of Shadowhunters (part angel part human race dedicated to the ancient fight of freeing the world of demons), who she never knew existed. She then learns that she herself is a Shadowhunter and must unravel the mystery of her mother’s past in order to save her and humanity.

But then there’s Jace, a Shadowhunter and love interest, and Simon, Clary’s best friend from when they were little. And while any love triangle shenanigans in the book are brief, I am almost positive that we will soon be seeing Team Jace and Team Simon shirts, at least for the first two movies.

I’m hoping that this movie won’t turn into that… but you stick to what sells, right?


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