Dating has never been so twee. What’s the best way of finding a soulmate in 2011 according to the Match.com adverts?
1. Live in an affluent neighbourhood
Just look at that music shop where the couple in the first ad meet. There are no amps piled high in the window, no boxes spilling over with wires and second-hand mixers, no gangs of teenagers trying to bash out something by Enter Shikari in the background — nothing, in short, that’d make it commercially viable. Shops like this, that rely on floppy-haired trustafarians dropping in to impulse-buy a bongo set, just don’t exist in down-to-earth neighbourhoods. So move on up if you’re looking for love.
2. REDEFINE ANTIQUITY AND INVENT YOUR OWN RETRO
“I like old movies – like Godfather 3!” Well I’m not the first to criticise that line. Even if we allow that an “old movie” can come from as recently as 1990, “old” isn’t a genre, so liking one doesn’t mean you’ll automatically like another. Is she really thinking “Godfather 3? I love films from twenty years ago too! At last someone who’ll watch Kindergarten Cop and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with me!” No, no she isn’t.
2. REJECT THE MAINSTREAM AND STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD – BUT NOT TOO MUCH!
“It’s not considered the best one – but that’s just me!” THAT’S JUST ME. Oh it’s all very well trying to show what an individual you are by liking something that’s not as well liked as other things. Good luck with that. But the thing about Godfather 3 is that it only really has any resonance, or makes much sense, if you’re already a fan of the earlier, better-loved films. I may as well walk into a bongo shop tomorrow and start singing “I like the Nightmare on Elm Street films! Especially Wes Craven’s New Nightmare! It’s not considered the best one, but I like the play of metafictional ideas and THAT’S JUST ME.”
What he’s basically saying is that he likes self-involved narratives. Which is a good job because he’s living in one.
4. STALK, STALK, STALK
“Girl on the platform smiled. Best smile he’s seen in a long while!” Quite by accident, the couple in the first advert simultaneously played a chord of D in a music shop. But the fella in the second ad is leaving nothing to chance. He takes his ukulele with him everywhere he goes, the better to sing at anyone he fancies. How many other women have suffered his over-descriptive serenades while going about their daily business? “The girl in front of me buying Canesten at Superdrug’s got such a pretty bob”? “The girl being sick on the nightbus has the sort of thick calves I’d like wrapped around my neck”? The mind boggles.
5. STICK TO WHAT YOU KNOW
“She must have been about… 26? 28? 28.” It’s good of Match to be so honest and specific about their target market. I’ve seen the phenomenon myself, as straight friends who are still single as they approach 30 go completely apeshit in their frantic search for a mate. A well chosen segment. And we can see from the ads that it helps to be white and middle class too. Well, OK, you can have a Northern accent, but for God’s sake dress a bit smartly if you do. We don’t want anyone thinking you drive a fork lift truck or something.
“She was a natural blonde! [no] She wasn’t a natural blonde, but that’s what made him fond…” Taking these ads as a dramatisation of the selection process on the dating site, we can infer that you go through ticking preferences for “likes old movies”, “26–28” and so on. So what does it mean that our platform minstrel changes his preference from natural blonde to dyed blonde so quickly? Is it her sheepishness in admitting to it that he likes? A sense of power over her? Or are Match basically saying that really girls, men don’t care what colour your hair is as long as you play with it? I suggest we all sign up and find out.