A scruffily dressed man armed with a small guitar stands across a station platform, gawping at an attractive blonde on the other side of the tracks reading her book. Before long our bard slaps out a few chords and breaks into an awkward freestyle, describing the girl’s smile, age, nice skin and hair. The girl, charmed by his admittedly nice voice, confidence and carefree attitude crosses to the other side of the station and we assume they’re off to Wigan, “the home of pies”, together. Sounds nice! The sound fades out, the Match.Com logo fades in, and we’re back to our scheduled programme.
What could I possibly have against this advert? The man showed initiative. In a too-often dreary world he made a young lady happy. His trendy wit and comfort in his own skin smashes old British stereotypes and ushers in a new era of romantics. This is great, right? This is beautiful in fact, we need more of this?
Well yes, OK then, that’s all fair enough, but this little still life does have some creepy undertones.
Firstly, why did this man have a guitar in the first place?
If we were generous, we could say he was part of a band, on his way to or from rehearsal. If we aren’t, this means he specifically took this guitar with him so he could woo young maidens. This lad isn’t anywhere near as innocent, or unique, as he looks: just like every other man out there he was on the lookout for a girl, any girl. For all we know he could have tried this stunt all day with several women and she was the first who fell for it.
If true then this doesn’t make him a terrible person, but this isn’t something that should warm our hearts – it’s no different to a guy in a bar hitting on every girl he sees and eventually getting lucky. All he’s done is read the zeitgeist well and, instead of giving her a chat up line, has just given her an equally generic rendition on a novelty-shop guitar and read out bland statements about her appearance. Ladies, how many times has a man said to you “you have nice eyes/skin/hair/hands”? It can be nice, sometimes, and sometimes people genuinely mean it too, but does that really count as romantic, or even anything particularly special? In a couple of weeks time everyone in Wigan might be walking around doing it,
“Pretty young brunette walking out the shop, and flipping me the bird. Says she’s going to the po-lice, if I don’t leave her alone, but “I like you” is all I heard.”
So what if he knew the girl he wanted, knew she’d be at the train station at that time, and bought his guitar specifically to win her over? That doesn’t make him an opportunistic lady thief. This is a girl he cares for. Well all I can say is that if he did, he knew terrifically little about her. Takes this for instance:
“Girl on the platform smiles. Comes here everyday, ’round about 9 for a while. She reads a C.S. Lewis book as she waits for her train. Tomorrow I’ll bring her new one, if she keeps back again.”
I know it isn’t great, but that to me is far more romantic. This is a girl he’s seen a few times and likes. One day he builds up the courage to do something he thinks she’ll enjoy and goes for it. Instead, it’s just a guy who sees a pretty girl, stumbling through a few features about her that anyone could mention like a sleazy drunk.
To me, it would be romantic if he either happened to have his guitar with him for whatever reason, saw a girl he thought was beautiful and just couldn’t help himself but sing her a song. Or, this was a girl he’d seen before, and he’d bought the guitar as he intended to do some serenading. If however he was just walking around with his guitar singing to girls, then that’s lecherous. Most people however fail to consider this distinction, and don’t seem to care.
Alright, so why bother to mention this at all and smash something that may cheer a few people up. Well, people would eventually resort to a website like Match.Com because they behaved as naively as the girl in this video, when they feel they can identify more with a moment that feels cinematic than one that feels true. Eventually, when the cheeky boy has run out of songs or someone else comes along with a cooler xylophone, he’s gone, and we hop between relationships with no substance at all. One day, our man or woman decide they actually want someone who genuinely cares about them, that they connect with, and then they consider the dating site.
A couple of other ironic notes about the advert as well:
1) The people in the advert didn’t need the website at all. If people did behave like these two, we wouldn’t need dating agencies and so match.com would go bust (that’s assuming this guy wasn’t just a sleaze, which appears very unlikely), and;
2) Match.com is about pairing people based on things their personalities and forming connections. This guy doesn’t even know her age or natural hair colour; the encounter is about as shallow as it comes.