For some men, Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a scam created by Hallmark Cards to sell their products.
For some women, it’s an excuse to eat lots of chocolate without feeling guilty.
For the optimists, the day is about reminding your significant other how much you love them and showering them with attention.
But Valentine’s Day isn’t the only thing in society that uses the concept of love to influence people.
Romance, love and sex have become big selling points in popular culture for decades.
Some celebrities who were born in the Washington, D.C. area have made successful careers in the entertainment industry using romance, sex and even Valentine’s Day itself as a way to sway the public.
Here are four ways they had an effect on popular culture:
1) Baby-making music: This genre of music consists of R&B and soul tunes that put you in the mood. Some artists from older generations blended their smooth vocals with sexual lyrics together beautifully. Marvin Gaye, who was born in Washington D.C., is considered one of the best R&B singers of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s and began his music career in D.C.
His songs “Sexual Healing” and “Let’s Get It On” are considered classics and are perfect for any Valentine’s Day playlist. “Sexual Healing” is ranked at number 233 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and “Let’s Get It On” is listed at number 168.
Newer R&B artists like D.C. native Ginuwine brought some sexy slow jams to the market in the ‘90s. Songs like “So Anxious” and “Pony” were some of his most memorable hits. When “Pony” was featured on the soundtrack to the 2012 male stripper movie “Magic Mike,” it made a significant jump on the digital sales chart.
2) Romantic comedies: The best romantic comedies are not always the ones that were a smash hit at the box office at the time of the film’s release. The 1987 film “Overboard,” directed by rom-com favorite Garry Marshall, stars D.C. native Goldie Hawn and her long-time beau Kurt Russell.
The film received mixed reviews and had little success at the box office, but has become a cult classic for rom-com lovers. Actress Reese Witherspoon admitted that “Overboard” is her personal favorite.
Sandra Bullock was born in Arlington, within the D.C. metro area, and starred in another older film beloved by women called “While You Were Sleeping.”
Katherine Heigl was born in West End in Washington, D.C. and stars in “Knocked Up,” which is a raunchier and edgier-than-normal romantic comedy. It is number 14 on Rotten Tomatoes’ list of best romantic comedies.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who relocated to D.C. when she was eight, also stars in a critically-loved grown-up romantic comedy “Enough Said.” James Gandolfini plays her love interest in his last leading film role.
3) Unconventional romantic dramas: One of the most original and offbeat romantic dramas is a film called “Her.” The talented director Spike Jonze was born in Rockville, Md. and grew up in Bethesda. Even though science fiction is a genre that most women are not drawn to, romantic fantasy is a theme women happily accept in movies.
A perfect example is “The Lake House,” starring Sandra Bullock. The film even incorporates Valentine’s Day to add an extra touch of romance.
Most romantic movies can be slightly unrealistic with the dialogue and happy endings. But women can handle a lack of realism in film if it makes them feel emotional and satisfied.
4) TV couples: People hooking up on TV shows have been the perfect way to keep viewers entertained and to keep them returning for more. Marshall and Lily from CBS’s “How I Met Your Mother” are not an unpredictable couple, despite one big breakup during their time together. However, they are loveable and are that rare TV couple that people actually want to be.
The character Lily is played by Alyson Hannigan, who was born in D.C. The fact that Alyson cares about her TV husband off screen makes them even cuter.
Katherine Heigl, another rom-com queen, played Izzie on the hit TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.” Her love story with a patient named Denny was a fan favorite, even though it was brief.