Date Culture

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Online dating is US popular culture

26th August 2008

If popular culture is defined by mass media as Wikipedia claims, than an investigation of US movies and how the subject of online dating is portrayed ought to reveal something about online dating in American pop culture.

Online dating sites all have a terms or service that must be agreed to and one of the universal requirements is that you only place ads for yourself. Certainly, this is the case with all of the US dating sites I have investigated.

However in some recent Hollywood movies we see the rules being broken. Because I Said So (2007) is an interesting one because it features a mother placing on online ad interviewing men on behalf of her daughter.

In Must Love Dogs (2005) Carol places an ad for her sister, Sarah. This film explores some of the fears modern society has when it comes to online dating – as Sarah goes to meet her first date, she finds her father waiting. The next several dates also go poorly until she meets Jake.

Interestingly, Jake was pushed into meeting Sarah (someone else arranged the date). Their first meeting is awkward for several reasons (including that they both feel awkward for having met online). Eventually, Jake and Sarah do end up together, but at the end of the movie they say that they met at a dog park (rather than an internet dating site).

These two movies portray online dating as an accepted part of US culture. They acknowledge that many people feel apprehensive about online dating (thus the need for outside help) but ultimately US pop culture is showing us online dating success stories. Even the failures (for example in Must Love Dogs a teenage boy mistakes Dolly’s 61 years old for 16 and shows up at her house proclaiming his love) are seen as comic moments rather than serious hardships.

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