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The Braveheart Question

Sometime last year I promised a friend that this Valentines Day I would tell the tale of the Braveheart Question. This could be a tale of romance or it could be the tale of a demented psycho stalker. That, my friends, is the question.

The film Braveheart is now considered pretty old by some standards, so some of my younger readers might not have seen this film. But back in the day, before Mel Gibson went all psycho religious, anti-Semitic, homophobic, racist, and sexist, he was considered a very attractive actor and lots of women were way into him.

The film Braveheart is one of the finest films of that time and while I can no longer watch it due to Mel Gibson coming out of the closet as the before mentioned wacko, it really was a great film.

There is a scene early in the film where a young girl gives a flower to a young William Wallis (the character Mel Gibson plays as an adult) just after the funeral of his family. This event causes young Wallis to live with his uncle in a far away land.

Fast forward the film a bit and about 15 to 20 years later, William Wallis (now played by Mel Gibson) returns. He attends a dance and meets a girl. They have a good time and he asks her out on a date. After their first date, he hands her a white handkerchief and rides off on his horse. She opens up the handkerchief and surprise, surprise; it is THE flower SHE gave to him after the death of his family years earlier.

Here is the question, is this romantic or is it creepy?

I’m not going to comment any further on the real world applications of this question, but I found it to be an interesting issue when I was younger and have always wondered about the line between romantic and creepy. As a result, I asked many friends (both male and female) about this situation which has now been dubbed, “The Braveheart Question.”

Happy Valentines Day!

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  • Asmodeus Azarak

    I remember this question, I always thought it was a valid point. Romance/psycho is in the eye of the beholder.

  • PsychoAtheist

    Purely artistic licence by the film makers anyway, I suspect the motive for inclusion was an attempt at heavily emphasising the romance between William and his soon to be murdered bride.

    None of which actually happened in reality.

    And it’s William Wallace by the way.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I think you missed the point of the question.

  • PsychoAtheist

    Quite possibly Staks, but then the mis-spelling of the name of one of my nation’s greatest heroes was bound to set my teeth on edge straight away.

    Serious answer? Young Wallace, grieving at the side of his murdered father’s grave is given a flower by a young girl. He presumably knows this young girl, or at least knows of her family, being that it would have been other Clan members at the funeral. A flower given, not as a romantic gesture, but one of sympathy and understanding. So the fact that he kept this flower as a memento of one of the most emotional times of his life is not a great surprise.

    Fast forward a few years and Wallace returns to his homeland and realises that the girl he has now taken a fancy to is the very same girl who pressed that flower into his hand all those years ago. He gives her the flower which he has kept in remembrance of his father which intimates to her that he is appreciative of the empathy that she showed to him at the time.

    Not romantic or creepy just saccharine.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    PsychoAtheist, You are taking the story far more seriously then was intended. It is merely the backdrop for the question. We have all seen movies where a guy does something like this for a girl and it is seen as romantic. The question applies to modern day real life situations.

    If you gave some girl something and years later you saw her again and she gave it back to you and wanted yo date you, would that be creepy or romantic?

  • PsychoAtheist

    Read my reply again. In the film Wallace gives her the flower only after he has acted on his initial attraction and discovered it is the self-same girl from years ago.

    The attachment that Wallace has to the flower is an emotional one related to the death of his father, despite the efforts of some to insinuate it is instead a 10-15 year stalker fantasy.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I get it, but think outside the film. The film is just the backdrop for the question.

    Here is the question: If you gave some girl something and years later you saw her again and she wanted yo date you, and gave it back to you, would that be creepy or romantic?

  • PsychoAtheist

    Would depend on the context. What did I give her? Why did I give her it? What has happened in the intervening years? Why did she keep it? Why is she giving it back to me?

    In short, questions that have been answered regarding the scenario posted above but not with regards to the completely hypothetical, completely unrelated to the original post, point that you are putting across now.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    I thought the context was clear. It is a simple hypothetical. I give up.

  • Deo Vacuus

    Mel is certainly crazy now and for all I know, was crazy even back then, but I still love Braveheart and watch it every couple years. I never thought of it as a creepy gesture until you suggested it. My initial response was that it was a touching moment when he returned the flower to her.

  • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

    … and now? If someone gave you back a flower after all those years, would you be creeped out or would you feel that it was a romantic gesture?

  • Scott

    I found my first crush from sixth grade online on facebook. I reminded her of who I was and told her that she was my first crush and I was the one that gave her the anonymous Valentine card that said “from your secret admirer” and wrote ??? on the back.

    The response was “Oh…my…gosh! Are you serious?! I remember that valentine!!! Haha, that had my head spinning for days! LOL” followed by a friend request and several more messages before the nostalgia died (she has been married for 8 years now with 3 kids).

    So, I think to some people, something like that is romantic. But some girls are easily creeped out. What it comes down to is that evolution designed men to be the selector and women to be the selectee and what do we do as a society? We make men into the selectee and as a result, men often do everything wrong because they aren’t designed to be the selectee. Back in ice age Europe, women outnumbered men vastly so men were the selectors and evolution drove the European race to develop many hair colors and eye colors while the rest of the world is brown eyes and black hair.

    Movies are also very famous for portraying men to act in ways that turn off women to get the woman and succeed. Wussy behavior turns off women.

  • Sarge

    This is not just a story to PsychoAtheist, this is a historic figure of great importance, not a cartoon.
    If you tell someone in the USA that Abe lincoln never had a thing with Ann Rutledge you often get the same reaction here. Hell, even talk about the things he historicly did and said that don’t appear in history books and see the reaction.
    By the way, PA, I visited your fair land a couple of times, and was encouraged by some merry locals in one city to visit a locale they referred to as The Gorbals.
    The scars on my knuckles still hurt after close to fifty years.
    Who says you Scotts are a dour and humorless people? The folks who sent me laughed like kukkaburras next time they saw me.

    Creepy or romantic, though… I work with mostly women, have been married for forty two years (wife was my first date, actually) and I can say, with my experience as to what gives women that “awwww” moment or creeps them out: With Women, Who Knows?

  • http://www.wordpress.com/shaunphilly ShaunPhilly

    I’ve said for a long time that the distinction between romance and stalking is the interest of the other party. Take most romantic comedies and change the music (and the ending) and you have a stalker movie.

  • Coyotenose

    *hops over from Friendly Atheist*

    The answer lies in cultural and historical context. We’re to understand that undying devotion like that was considered a high virtue through the Middle Ages; just look at Arthurian legends. While that behavior was assuredly rare, as far as I know, it was still an ideal to live up to.

    With that in mind, we’re allowed to appreciate the sentiment and emotion without ascribing to the action. As a related example, have you ever read or seen Watchmen? The story has been criticized because the most prominent protagonist, Rorschach, is a psychotically violent, misogynistic reactionary who epitomizes the very worst of fringe right-wing attitudes. But the critics don’t get that the story isn’t sympathetic to Rorschach’s beliefs and bigotries; it’s sympathetic to him as a human being.

    • dangeroustalk

      Thanks, but I want to know how it applies to today. If someone gave you back something from years earlier attempting to be romantic, would you take it that way or would you think, “creepy stalker”?

      • Kath4kidz

        It would depend on who it was!