Can you truly know you love someone within the span of a few weeks?
After my last serious relationship, I decided to "put myself out there" again and downloaded Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid.
Being an active user on all these platforms solidified to me how different the dating scene is nowadays. Most of it is due to technology and our social media culture, which has definitely made us a bit more narcissistic, fake, and even cold-hearted. Romance in this day and age is pretty much dead—and, without a doubt, so is chivalry. Only two of my most recent 20 dates opened a door for me, so now I go on dates with zero expectations. Most of these guys just want to hook up, thinking a first date and a couple drinks warrants the perfect opportunity to proposition me.
With all these "options" at our fingertips, everyone seems to be suffering from the "grass is greener" syndrome. When anyone can DM you, like your pic, or send a Snapchat (which, let's be real, is reserved for thirst traps), it cancels out any real effort to get to know someone on a deeper level and find a genuine connection behind the "black mirror" of our screens. Are we still capable of finding love like our parents did, decades ago? Is modern dating harder now because we have an open obsession and scrutiny about status, looks, and age? If only there were a "social experiment" that could explore what would happen to people if you took away their phones and had them focus on building blind connections with total strangers...Would romance prevail?
Nick Lachey (from 98 Degrees) and his wife, Vanessa, took it upon themselves to explore this profound question—"Is love blind?"—on Netflix's new dating reality show, Love Is Blind. The idea of having 29 single men and women "speed date" for 10 days while staying in isolated pods that prevent all physical and visual contact is daunting. And, of course, no one is allowed to use their cell phone. It's just classic, one-on-one bonding time with the express goal of...immediately getting engaged. It proves to work—eight couples actually do it (although only six get screen time).
Once engaged, the couple gets to see each other for the first time before being whisked away to a "couples retreat" in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. At the retreat, everyone has the chance to meet each other (remember, they all speed dated one another) to stir up drama and see who "regrets" picking their partner (*cough* Jessica Batten). Then after Mexico, the couples move into an apartment complex in Atlanta, Georgia, where they proceed to meet each other's families and friends before the wedding (which is set 28 days after the engagement).
First and foremost, the whole premise is completely outrageous, because it brings up another complex question regarding love: Can you truly know you love someone within the span of a few weeks or even days? One couple exchanges "I love yous" after less than a week in the pods and get engaged after just five days! That never happens in the "real world," so the "social experiment" has an inherent flaw in that its participants' motives for getting engaged might be questionable, inspired by a desire to move along in the show. Keep in mind: No one has their phones, so every single one of these men and women (who are all fairly attractive, which is such wasted potential for a show revolving around emotional connection and not just looks) are thinking that this girl or guy is their only "option" in the pods. How authentic can these desperate proposals be?
Now let's talk about the six couples Love Is Blind actually showcases. The best couple is, without a doubt, scientist Cameron Hamilton and digital content creator Lauren Speed, who immediately connect and became emotionally invested in one another at the very start. I can't pinpoint exactly why they instantly clicked, but given their sweet nature and genuine wholesome personalities, it actually made sense. Apart from Cameron and Lauren, only one other couple—SPOILER ALERT—says yes at the altar: frat bro engineer Matt Barnett and ex-tank mechanic Amber Pike (the girl with a make-up credit card and $20,000 in student loans). In classic reality show bro-style, Barnett caused quite a stir in the pods, flirting with just about everyone and keeping three main ladies in his back pocket: Lauren Chamblin (sweet and nice "LC"), Jessica Batten (a 34-year-old who uses a baby voice when talking to men and feeds her dog wine), and Barnett's future wife Amber (who probably still believes in her "work to live" party vibes). He completely played all of them, with the exception of Amber, who definitely has a screw loose since she was instantly possessive over him.
Barnett's behavior in the pods is just like the quintessential Tinder guy—overly flirtatious, chill, and preoccupied with inserting sexual innuendos into any conversation. The highlight of the series is when he blatantly lies to Jessica, who had initially "emotionally" connected to young and naive fitness trainer Mark Cuevas (only 24 years old). Knowing that Mark has his eyes on Jessica and not wanting to let go of any of his "top" ladies, Barnett tells Jessica that he would be willing to propose to her the next day after their "pod date." Afterwards, Jessica turns down Mark's earnest attempt to continue their committed "pod-lationship" to explore a possible engagement with Barnett. Then, exactly as expected, Barnett backtracks, leading Jessica to return to Mark, crying and groveling. Mark immediately takes her back, losing the respect of us viewers in the process, because nobody likes "hot mess" Jessica (seriously, there's an entire subreddit basically dedicated to making fun of her), and what self-respecting guy would subject himself to that?
To say people get emotional, delusional, and needy on this show is an understatement. The couples exchanged rivers of tears, professions of love (the iconic Damian Powers' "I am the gift" proposal), and "f*ck yous"; and the huge blowout between Carlton Morton and Diamond Jack will go down as one of the most brutal fights in Netflix reality TV history. Honestly, how genuine can these surface-level "emotional connections" be within 10 days? They've just met. Case in point: Carlton straight up withholds the fact that he's bisexual, which ultimately ends his engagement with Diamond. That's something you state in the first couple of dates. Loving someone means you fully accept them, which definitely takes time.
Physical attraction also plays a huge factor in long-lasting relationships, whether we want to admit it or not. This is exemplified by Damian Powers, a "general manager" who hilariously took too much time off of work and could possibly be unemployed after the show, and his strange relationship with the "fiery" but unstable Giannina Milady (yes, you read that correctly) Gibelli. Although, according to Damian, their sex life is "banging," the couple ultimately does not get married. They are polar opposites who fight constantly and oftentimes forget why they chose each other. Damian is so emotionless and monotone compared to Giannina, who can go from zero to one hundred immediately. Ironically, her obsession with her phone and social media activity prompts Damian to warn her about potentially losing him if she continues that behavior. As he leads into his ultimatum at the dinner table, Giannina is still checking her phone–the audacity! Long story short, they don't really see each other's "bad sides" until after the engagement. Amazingly though, even after their on-air relationship fell apart, they continued dating and are still together today.
Lastly, Kenny Barnes and Kelly Chase (the most boring, vanilla couple on the show) have a strong emotional connection but no sexual chemistry. It isn't surprising when they don't get married (they're the only engaged couple who never sleeps together). (Shockingly, Mark and Jessica do get it on, despite Jessica stating over and over again that she can't match their emotional "pod connection" with the physical)
The most interesting aspect of the series is definitely the dynamics during the pod stages. Honestly, if the pod stages were to last three to five months, perhaps the single participants truly could "fall in love" based on real, emotional connections. But the only "love" that truly exists on Love Is Blind is between Cameron and Lauren (solely because these two are the rare type of "real"). Barnett and Amber also get married, but their connection seems like it won't last long (although, in fairness, they're still married today, over a year later). Removing social media and phones definitely strengthens and encourages the possibility of making a connection, but having such a short "deadline" on marriage puts undue pressure on the relationships. Thus, everyone falls under the illusion that their feelings—which are most likely just base-line emotional connections that we're no longer accustomed to experiencing from behind today's dating apps—must be "love." In essence, the Love Is Blind "social experiment" promotes the age-old, traditional notion of a classical, epic romance—loving someone for who they are and not what they look like.
I support the notion, but the experiment needs to be updated. Give the participants more time in the pods and sprinkle in less attractive singles, because you can't promote "beauty is on the inside" when everyone looks like they can get laid without a reality show. Let's see how these participants really feel if they propose to a fifty-year-old woman, a heavyset man, or a really short dude...Will they swipe left or right?
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Time Paradoxes Will Come into Play for Another Reveal of Hidden Superpowers
As a child, I remember hearing the idea of God as a being who knows not just what I'm doing or what I have done, but what I will do for the rest of my life.
My reaction was to stay up at night picking at that idea like a scab. I would think of doing something spontaneous and unpredictable—throwing a book across my bedroom—plan on it, prepare the muscles in my arms to follow through, then slam the book shut in my lap instead.
God scene from futurama www.youtube.com
But even at that age I could tell that my sudden shifts in intention were illegitimate. I had already planned to change my mind. The kind of God I'd been led to believe in would have seen right through my pretense. Free will—the freedom to follow a course other than the one laid out for me—was incompatible with such a God. Eventually I stopped picking at that scab, and the idea seemed to have healed over—until I watched the latest episode of HBO's Watchmen last night. It was like peeling back a scar to find the wound still festering underneath. Just so it's clear, from here on out there will be spoilers.
The particular wrinkle that the episode "A God Walks into Abar" has added to this old paradox is in making Doctor Manhattan both godlike and human. He has the ability to control matter at the atomic level, to create life, to exist in multiple places and to divide his consciousness across multiple times, allowing him to seemingly predict the future. But there are limits to his powers. He is vulnerable to tachyons. He cannot know anything outside of what he will experience while his powers are intact, and all it takes for him to be stripped of his powers is for his memory of them to be suppressed—by some dubious neurosurgery.
Another issue that seems to be hinted at is that Doctor Manhattan does not truly experience all of time at once. He has access to all of it, the same way that a person with cable has access to every channel, but the number of channels he can watch at once seems to be limited, and they all seem to play out at a fixed pace.
The evidence for this is in Doctor Manhattan's laughter. When Angela Abar and Adrian Veidt contradict each other on the topic of his imagination, Doctor Manhattan chuckles at the coincidence of their synchrony, and when Angela interrogates him about the other times he's experiencing, he continually uses the verb "now," in the same way a human would use it to describe ongoing events to someone not present. If he was experiencing his entire life at once, there would be none of these coincidental synchronies—no surprises or organic reactions. Each moment would be equally tied to every other.
So, while he claims not to experience the concept of "before," the truth seems to be that his "before" is just immensely more complicated than ours. His future contains moments of awareness that precede what he knows now, and his past contains moments of awareness that reach far into the future, but he is not constantly aware of everything he will ever know. Different moments play out together across time, like multiple TVs playing different channels in the same room.
So, just as we never see him embody more than a handful of physical forms, he seems to experience only a handful of separate moments concurrently, and while he can report from the future, his behavior throughout the graphic novel and now in the new series, has consistently suggested that he cannot act in a way that will alter the future he perceives. He tells Will Reeves, in this episode, that his powers to control events are limited. After all, if he changes the events that inspire him to make those changes, he erases the knowledge that allowed him to act. This is the kind of mind-melting paradox that makes time travel such a confusing topic.
But could a god-man like Manhattan navigate the mess in order to avoid catastrophe—like Cyclops gaining his powers? Has he even tried? Having been a god for so long, detached from human motivations, he may simply have lost the will to try to change things—to destroy a timeline he knows and has already experienced. Does he believe himself incapable of changing the timeline, or does he simply prefer not to take the risk of making things messy and confusing? Because that's something else we learned in this episode: It is possible for Doctor Manhattan to be confused.
With the tachyon device removed from his skull via hammer, Jon Osterman—AKA Doctor Manhattan, AKA Angela's husband Calvin—has to relearn how to live as a god, and incorporate what he's learned as a human. With all his tremendous knowledge flooding back to him, it seems he is once again putting himself back together— mentally this time. And just as the experience of physically rebuilding himself in 1959 taught him how to access his powers, coming back to his uninhibited form after ten years as a human seems to unlock new understanding for him to process. He tells Angela, "I am experiencing confusion as a result of the device being removed, and am not entirely sure when I am."
He teleports himself to walk on the water of their backyard pool, and tells Angela this will be important later, then he teleports their children to safety—anticipating the impending shootout. He operates as a walkie-talkie-through-time for Angela and her grandfather, Will Reeves. Angela, looking for answers, accidentally incepts the idea that Judd Crawford—whom Will has never heard of—is a member of the organization Will devoted his life to defeating. And this is the defining moment of the episode.
Angela's distress about having caused the event she was trying to understand sets Manhattan off on a philosophical musing on the chicken or the egg, and the nature of his unique relationship to time—the paradoxical way in which a reaction to an event can become its cause. It no doubt also sets in motion the as-yet-unseen events of the finale, but Jon/Calvin/Doctor's immediate response is to go cook waffles.
"Watch the eggs," he tells Angela as the fridge pops open in front of her. She smashes the carton on the ground. He must have known she was going to do that—that he would not be able to finish making those waffles. He might as easily have conjured completed waffles if he had wanted to. He allowed the eggs to fall as a pretense for dropping a hint that Angela will no doubt pick up at just the right moment. Now, here come the real spoilers...
I have eaten the egg. I know what's going to happen in the finale.
What exactly does "watch the eggs" mean? The egg in the beer as Manhattan tells Angela that he can imbue a mortal with his powers through food. The egg of Calvin's suppressed memory, and of Adrian's comment that a moment of instinct may unlock his powers—which prompts Manhattan to say "Thank you, Adrian, now I understand what happened." The egg of the promised and insisted dinner—Manhattan spends his whole first night together convincing Angela to have dinner with him, yet with all the time jumps we never see the dinner take place. The chicken that will hatch is whatever tragedy is about to end their relationship.
Calvin didn't save Angela from the Kavalry shooter. He didn't zap that shooter away. Angela did it herself in that moment she blinked her eyes. Whether she knew it at the time or not, Manhattan gave her his powers at that dinner in 2009, their second night together. Perhaps she still didn't believe who he was then—he says, that first night, that he prefers for her to remain uncertain. She ingested those godlike abilities, but because she doesn't realize she has them, she cannot yet use them. When she learns what her husband has made her—when she can walk on water herself, and no longer relate to the humanity of her adopted children—will she be able to forgive him?
Jon's musing about the chicken or the egg—"The answer appears to be both at exactly the same time"—inspired him to meet Angela in the first place. To set up that dinner. To drink an egg while talking about passing on his powers. To go make waffles that he'll never finish, and tell her to "watch the eggs." Even to track down Will Reeves and have him dose Angela with Nostalgia. For all we know, he supplied the bomb that killed her parents in the moment she felt inspired by a VHS tape.
den of Geek
It is all deeply confusing, but what has become clear is that whatever tragedy ends their relationship in the next episode, it will involve Angela coming to terms with the fact that she is a god. Perhaps a better god—for her traumatic life experiences—than Manhattan could ever hope to be. Sister Night. A god with the will to fight against evil even when events seem immutable. That moment—when Manhattan tells her that their tragedy is unavoidable and she decides to fight anyway—is the moment he falls in love with her, and it's no doubt why he chose to make her a god in the first place. For the first time in Watchmen history, a hero will have superpowers. And we will see how she flies.
Watchmen 1x09 Promo "See How They Fly" (HD) Season Finale www.youtube.com
Of course there is someone else whom Jon has been feeding. A man with an all-consuming will to power—to reshape the world according to his vision. Adrian Veidt has been eating food that Doctor Manhattan created for the last ten years—including the cakes that Phillips and Crookshanks presumably pack with eggs. Is the horseshoe baked into that last cake perhaps a clue that the good Doctor has created more than one god? A good, humble Angela to oppose an evil ambitious Adrian? For that, and so much more—the millennium clock!—I don't have an answer. So you should probably tune in for the finale.
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