Men and women…when did it all get so complicated? In elementary school, boy-girl relationships were so simple and untainted by hormones and deep feelings. Girls never needed to worry about getting hit on during recess and the only commitment boys needed to think about was handing in their homework on time. Then puberty hits and everything changes — guys and girls no longer see each other as mere recess playmates. Girls become sexual objects of desire and boys become potential future husbands, but does this always have to be the case? Are cross-gender friendships completely off the table at a certain age?
The entertainment industry has flooded our minds with countless romantic comedies where the guy always ends up with the girl, trying to disprove the age old question: can a guy and a girl really be “just friends”? I believe they can…it may not be common, but it can happen. In honor of this week’s Friends With Benefits, starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, I’ve decided to prove my theory that members of the opposite sex can be friends — without the benefits. Here are some examples of movie and television characters whose relationships never ventured beyond the friendship realm:
Talk about a dynamic duo! Jimmy Dugan and Dottie Hinson provide an astounding example of how some friendships can change you for the better. Tom Hanks plays a sad, washed-up, drunken baseball pro, who initially can’t stand being the coach of an all girls baseball team, but Geena Davis‘ strong, exceptionally talented character helps show him that’s there’s more to women than just pretty faces. She gets him to quit drinking while he forces her to acknowledge how much she truly does love the game of baseball. I have no doubt these characters would have made an adorable couple, but they remained strictly friends throughout the course of the entire movie. The best part is that their lack of an intimate relationship doesn’t detract from the plot of the story, it adds to it. They have a deep, mutual respect for one another, thus making this relationship a…home-run.
“Why hello, Clarice” are words that never fail to send chills up my spine. Now normally these two wouldn’t come to mind when you’re talking about friendships, but think about it. Anthony Hopkins‘ ingenious portrayal of Hannibal the Cannibal shows audiences that even the darkest of hearts are not immune to feelings. Hannibal never allows any harm to come to Jodie Foster‘s character and even defends her honor when a guy in an adjacent cell acts offensively towards her. Granted, he went a little too far in making the guy swallow his own tongue, but it showed that — in his own sick and twisted way — he cared for her. This protective theme towards Clarice continues on even into the sequel when he decides to cut off his own hand rather than hers. And let’s not forget the most important thing: he never once attempts to eat her!
If that doesn’t show friendship, I don’t know what does.
Even Disney characters can live happily ever after without resorting to romance. Peter Pan and Tinkerbell represent the very essence of childhood innocence, so there’s need to explore grown up feelings such as love and romance – ick (this is Neverland we’re talking about). Even in the face of potential death, these two never resort to anything beyond their friendship because, in actuality, they’re just kids after all. The beauty of their relationship is based on the fact that it has absolutely no layers to it. With a child, what you see is what you get — everything is good-natured and fun, which is exactly what this pair is supposed to represent. While we may look back on our childhood years and be thankful that they’re behind us, we can’t help but feel nostalgic of a time where life was less complicated and all problems were solved with a pinch of pixie dust.