It's going to happen to me -- maybe not tomorrow, maybe not until some fateful day way off in the unforeseen future -- but I just know I'm eventually going to be called to task for this. Some day, some guy (and there is always one) is going to accost me in a classroom or a seminar hall with an "I just tasted bad cod" scowl on his face and say, "You never saw Date Movie? You call yourself some kind of expert on romantic comedy and you never saw Date Movie?!"
So I'm apologizing in advance, because yes -- I thought about it, I considered my allegiance to the genre and my duties to my readership, and then I thought about how much a movie theater ticket costs and how short life is, and I concluded: Nuh-uh.
This is due in part to my affection for Alyson Hannigan or, as she will always be to me (and like, millions), Willow (I'm currently savoring Season 6 of Buffy on DVD, and my formerly low-key Alyson-admiration is busting the awesome-meter the freakier her character arc gets). Was American Pie an unfortunate misstep that's doomed sweet Aly to appearances in drek like Date? Well, whatever the reasons for her career choices, I don't want to watch her in something that appears to be, from all opening-weekend reports, unwatchable (a diss from say, critic Manohla Dargis is one thing, but if my friend Matthew's 14 year-old daughter Emilia says it sucks, then it surely must suck).
So I leave the Date Movie experience to thems who are actually paid to write about such fare, as I'm more interested in a timely phenomenon that has to do not with which movies you don't need to see, but what dates you don't need to go on.
One of the advantages of being alive in 2006, an otherwise terrifying time in so many ways, is that we are all of us so freaking wired into the culture and the CNU (Collective Need of Us) that more often than not, by the time you wish there was a service to take care of a given task for you, it's already there and thriving. Thus, no sooner is the modern day female thinking, "Do I really want to go out with this guy?" and "I wish there was a way to check him out in advance," than voila! -- or rather, click! -- and you have The Ultimate Guide to Dating Safety.
Meanwhile, according to this lively report from the NY Times' Lizette Alvarez, also drawing mad hits are ManHaters.com (known as well by its more positivist name, WomanSavers.com), which rates men on questionnaires as good or bad on a scale of zero to 122, and TrueDater.com, geared to both genders, which specifically alerts people to which reportedly single swingers on matchmaking sites are actually married, duplicitous dullards.
It sounds like so far, men are getting the short end of the stick (or the long stab of the internet pitchfork) on this turf, and indeed, some supposedly slandered males are writing in rebuttals (one's even got a site soliciting men for a lawsuit). But I must say, as a human who is staunchly against truthiness and a fan of bold disclosure for all genders, these sites sound like a necessary and welcome service. So I can only hope that the female-exposing sites (DudeDon'tEvenThinkAboutHittingOnHer.com?) will follow.
The statistics cited in the Times piece -- e.g. 30 percent of online daters are married, and the number's rising -- seem to support the idea that we are truly living in the golden age of dishonesty (make that: gilded tin age). Granted, all kinds of white lies, gilded lilies and feigned identities are the very staple of romantic comedy, on screen and off, but you read some of this stuff about fictionalized romancers and wonder how it is that anybody ever does manage to hook up with "a real one."
Which is why I'm happy to offer you, as a kind of sentimental palliative, this warm-and-fuzzier view of what the dating wars wrought for one lucky lady. Times journalist Veronica Chambers (I know, the Sunday NY Times "Style" section is becoming for me what the L.A. Times "Parade" mag is for blogger Tod Goldberg, but it does provide good rom-com blog fodder) confesses herein that she's actually glad she threw herself off the cliffs of dicey romance with a succession of Mr. Wrongs... because, bless her wounded heart, she's landed a perfect hub after all. So the men who were "just not that into her" now make up a helpful memory map: they're the rocky roads not taken all the way, thank goodness, and with them, she admits, "in the midst of all the drama I managed to have a goodly amount of fun."
Fun? Fun while searching for soul mates? Well, it's nice to know that some people get their happy endings, at any rate. The rest of us, meanwhile, can take some solace in the fact that the Date Police are now trolling the treacherous trenches of cyberspace, putting out the word and the images that'll forestall date fraud. Soon I may be able to pre-rate a date, saying of it what I'll say, with a roll of the eyes, about Date Movie:
I don't need to go -- I saw the trailer.