This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
Anyway, as you might have intuited, I wasn't exactly popular as a teen. As so many nerds that came of age in the late 90s and early Aughts, I didn't have much successes with the opposite gender. Lacking meaningful contact in that department, I used to fantasize a lot. And many, if not all, of those fantasies were derived from narrative clichees and shorthands.
Daring rescues (that required magical transformations of me into superheroes that needed some kind of narrative licence), after which the grateful lady would fall for me.
Her seeing just how bloody awful her former and current boyfriends were and seeing how great I, socially awkward person that couldn't look beyond himself, really was.
Forcefully trying to create romantic situations, complete with music, because that always works in movies. Clearly, hearing a love song when you see a person will let you fall in love.
Trying to convert them to your subculture, because obviously the only thing standing between you and success is a lack of high regard for your hobbies.
But, most important of all - and this is where it ties back to the Pop Culture Detective's critique - there is a complete lack of understanding for the agency of the woman. A fundamental lack of comprehension for what falling in love actually entails, how it could look like, that "infatuation" or "attraction" are NOT the same as love. If I think back to whom I had fallen for, I'm dumbstruck at how I could have ever imagined a relationship with people I knew virtually nothing about and had no commonalities whatsoever, just assuming she would, upon "falling in love" (whatever the hell that was) simply wholly adapt to my lifestyle.
And these factors come from narratives in pop culture, and they're just as pervasive as they were 20 years ago. This really a problem, and hopefully, a new generation of creators will desist from using these tired and harmful tropes in favor of some more healthy versions.