Blissful Belle

Be Happy, Feel Beautiful

The “Friends with Benefits” Phenomenon


In Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake’s latest romcom Friends with Benefits, the duo tackles sex and friendship in New York City. Platonic friendships that turn into sexual awakenings have been the central focus of many recent Hollywood blockbusters, aka Natalie Portman’s No Strings Attached circa January 2011. With the back-to-back success of these two major films, a girl has to wonder, what’s up with this new obsession?

In both Natalie Portman’s and Mila Kunis’ hit blockbusters, it seems like the ladies are anti-love, while their leading men Justin Timberlake and Ashton Kutcher are all for romance. Both female leads are young, attractive and successful. But neither woman knows how to maintain a stable relationship with men. This might cause a young moviegoer to question what’s up with these chicks.

As I watched Kutcher pour his heart out to Portman as she slurped her chocolate shake obnoxiously to avoid responding, I wondered if this type of behavior from a woman could actually be healthy. Did Portman know something about avoiding love and having it smack her in the face that other single girls didn’t? By making yourself completely unavailable emotionally, does a girl morph into the guy? And if so, is love a power struggle? Both films suggest this is precisely the case. When a woman feels dominant perhaps, she is on a high that’s even more satisfying than love. American society and Hollywood, in particular, has been obsessed with the damsel in distress for centuries. But lately these damsels don’t feel the need to be rescued and just want to have fun and enjoy their suitors’ sexual company.

I’m not going to judge these girls since there are plenty of real life women experimenting with this same phenomenon. But I definitely think the media is stuffing this idea down young women’s throats with extreme force. Can this be empowering or is it destroying something else in these women? By obliterating love as a possibility, our generation seems completely indifferent to romance. When mothers and fathers watch these films are they appalled, and should they be worried about their children? With films and television shows focusing on all the physical benefits of sex, there is an obvious disregard of intimacy in the act. The main concern here is not that women are entering into strictly physical arrangements with others but that they might not even realize what they are sacrificing in doing so. Of course there are those rare times when such arrangements morph into something more but in most cases this isn’t so. This causes one to be left wondering are such media images detrimental, and if the media even cares. I can’t answer such questions but I know one thing for sure, sex sells.

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About Alexandra Palmer

Alexandra is a native New Yorker who's always had a keen interest in news. She was drawn to the industries fast paced and deadline driven environments. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in multimedia journalism from New York University, where she specialized in video production, reporting, and editing. Some of her most prominent accomplishments include an investigative piece on campus sexual assault her and fellow NYU student Rajeev Dhir published in Al Jazeera America in February. Alexandra has also interned at several prestigious news outlets, including MSNBC's Ronan Farrow Daily Show, and Us Weekly. Alexandra's interests outside of journalism include, acting for film and television. Alexandra recently wrote and starred in her first one act play this August. The piece was selected as a semi-finalist in the New York New Works Theatre Festival. Writing is Alexandra's first love. Alexandra is also graduate of Marymount Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and World Literature, and a minor in Hispanic Studies.

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