I recently turned 20, which means I’m officially retired from being a teen. For my first act as a crotchety old person, I’d like to to tell you a hard truth I learned during those not-too-distant years: Your romantic experiences are never going to be like the ones in teen movies. I know, I know—you wish your life could be directed by John Hughes. But that’s impossible for a number of reasons, chief among them being that no one can direct your life except for you…unless, of course, you’re the star of a reality show (and if you’re a Kardashian who happens to be reading this article, please know I am available for adoption at all times).
Now, I’m not saying any romantic dalliances you might have as a teenager will be devoid of their own kind of wonder and intrigue—there’s no doubt that you’ll experience more of feelings than you might ever expect right now, and they’ll be way cooler than the ones you’ve swooned over onscreen because they’ll be real. It’s just that they probably won’t involve frenching Ryan Gosling in the rain.
But don’t feel bad! Because if you think about it, none of those swoony movie romances could survive in our modern world. I have in fact thought about it, and I have some predictions. (And while it may seem like I’m ragging on the internet and how it’s totally destroyed romance, the truth is that these scenarios were always unrealistic, regardless of the existence of Wifi.) As you’ll soon discover, even the greatest of cinematic romances are best left on the DVDs in your parents’ living room.
1. The Boombox Scene From Say Anything
SCENARIO: Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you’re probably familiar with this scene: The protagonist, Lloyd, is trying to win back the love of his ex, Diane, by standing outside her window and holding up a boombox that’s blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” the song that was playing when they lost their virginities to each other. Somehow, it totally works—she takes him back.
As with many iconic scenes that feature grand displays of love and ardor, there’s a solid chance that this would come across as cringe-inducing and stalker-y if it hadn’t been scripted. And don’t even get me started on the idea of throwing rocks at a girl’s bedroom window. Like, god forbid the glass should break, because if there is one thing I find incredibly unsexy, it’s PROPERTY DAMAGE.
MODERN-DAY REALITY: A boy lugs his iHome over to your house and stands outside your window. He plugs his iPhone into the speaker, raises its volume all the way to the top in preparation, and opens up his Spotify app. He presses play on “In Your Eyes,” but instead of the classic love song, you hear, “THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, SHOW YOUR FAMILY YOU CARE BY GIVING THEM THE GIFT OF HOT ’N’ FLAKY PILLSBURY CRESCENT ROLLS.” Well, well, well…seems as though someone couldn’t even upgrade to premium for his big fancy scheme to get you back. As you listen to the commercial, you don’t even get out of bed. Instead, you just think, Hmm, I could really go for some dinner rolls right about now.
2. The Jake Ryan Leaning on His Red Car Scene From Sixteen Candles
SCENARIO: After learning that Molly Ringwald’s character, Sam, likes him, heartthrob Jake looks through his yearbook to find a picture of her, under which her HOME PHONE NUMBER is listed because this movie is basically set in the Stone Age. He calls, but her zany grandparents pick up and thwart his attempts at courtship. This leads him on a search for her, which comes to a head when he conveniently comes across the church where her sister’s wedding is taking place and suavely perches his body against his car as she exits. They head to his house, where a birthday cake is waiting. How he knows it’s her birthday or has time to acquire a custom-frosted cake is pure cinematic magic/lying.
Another unsettling aspect of this movie is that Jake embarks on this heroic quest knowing nothing about Sam beyond than her ability to make intensely awkward eye contact with him. OK, sure, he wants to get to know her better—I’m just saying that, if periods of intense awkward eye contact elicited such outsize responses in real life, I would probably have boys showing up outside of my house on an hourly basis.
MODERN-DAY REALITY: Upon learning of your existence, the person you’re crushing on simply Facebook-stalks you. They see that it’s your birthday, but instead of showing up with a cake to wherever you’re hanging out with your family, they takes Facebook’s incredibly helpful suggestion of sending you a virtual Starbucks gift card with a value between $5 and $10. You’re mostly confused, but also somewhat excited that you now have enough money to buy most of a complicated latte.
3. The Computer Chat Scene From Pretty In Pink
SCENARIO: Blane, a rich, blazer-wearing dreamboat, proves to Andie, his unlikely love interest from the other side of the tracks, that he likes her during a surprise IM session in their school’s library. Instead of just coming out and telling her who he is right away, he sends her their yearbook photos, which demonstrates that he’s put actual thought into approaching her. They stand up in the library, lock eyes, and smile, radiating ~fresh love~.
This scene is incredibly romantic when you consider that, since this movie was made in the ’80s, decades before the invention of Google Image Search, it must’ve taken Blane hours (maybe days?!) to acquire and upload TWO pictures on those prehistoric-looking computers.
MODERN-DAY REALITY: Someone snapchats you a cringe-inducing class picture of you that he found in his middle school yearbook. You are mostly spooked because you have no idea who it’s from, considering that the sender’s username is “notliketheotherguys69420,” and you’d rather not be reminded about your penchant for wearing blush as eye shadow (you thought it was the same thing back then). You choose not to screenshot it.
4. The Rain Scene From The Notebook
SCENARIO: Our heroes, Noah and Allie, reunite years after the summer when they fell in love as teenagers and were cruelly torn apart by her disapproving parents. Noah reveals to Allie that, despite their separation, he never stopped loving her—in fact, he wrote her letters every day for a year! Her mom just hid them all because he was poor! They passionately kiss in the rain (because there’s just something about humidity and raindrops obscuring your vision that makes people really hot for each other).
MODERN-DAY REALITY: That cutie you met and fell in love with when your family went on a weeklong cruise immediately sends you a Facebook friend request upon returning to shore. You realize that their only profile pictures are a selfie they took three years ago with a caption that reads, “chillin in the JC Penney dressing room,” and a Conspiracy Keanu meme, so you lose interest and stop responding to their IMs. Long after you’ve forgotten about them, they send you a message that says “I SENT YOU 365 REQUESTS. I SENT YOU 365 CANDY CRUSH REQUESTS EVERY DAY FOR A YEAR.” Unlike Allie and her letters, you got every one of them, although you wish you hadn’t.
5. The “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” Scene from 10 Things I Hate About You
SCENARIO: Bad boy (with a heart of gold!) Patrick has been paid by classmates to win over ice queen (also with a heart of gold!) Kat, but it turns out—surprise!—he’s actually falling in love with her. To prove it, he takes over the school’s loudspeaker system, recruits the marching band, and stages an elaborate musical performance to impress her.
MODERN-DAY REALITY: Your suitor arranges a Vine symphony of your favorite song, and it goes viral amongst your classmates. Wait—that’s actually pretty sweet!
The good news is that the internet is actually helping the human race beat out baby goats for the title of cutest species in existence. We now live in a glorious age when people’s phones include all the technology necessary to organize and record an entire flash mob to ask someone to a dance! Like, watch that happen in this video and tell me it doesn’t stack up with any of the scenes above:
Even though I’ll always love teen movies for their beautiful misunderstanding of how actual human interaction works, I cherish living in the real world, complete with all of its awkward Snapchats and unwanted Candy Crush requests, even more: We’re lucky enough to live in a time when a means to show someone you care for them is always at your fingertips. If a teenager wants to woo his or her crush, they can order a pizza online, specifically ask that the pepperoni spell out “Prom?” and watch in real time as it’s delivered to the person of their dreams! Forget a boombox outside a window—that’s what I call romance. ♦