Friday, March 4, 2011

Commodifying Love

Both Badiou and Zizek have pointed out that the "event" of love has fallen by the wayside in contemporary thought. The best way to see this trend is in organized, virtual dating. In essence, one commodifies oneself when one fills in what the likes, dislikes, personality type, etc. (basic identity markers) in the form and then is matched up with someone that fits this identity by a private "love-matching" agency. So now love itself has become marketable because no one want to go through the messy business of "falling" in love, with the ups and downs of building a relationship.

In the first season of How I Met Your Mother, Ted Mosby decides to try out this online dating. The comedy comes from the fact that he has no matches. He then is eventually matched with a doctor that is engaged with her match. Ted tries to woo her by asking her to leave him and start up a relationship with him. What is crucial here is that even in the situation of being set up with a match (this engaged doctor)Ted tries to reintroduce the eventfulness of love by asking her to fall in love with him. Ted as a character is someone who does not give up in the event of love (best example is his first date with Robin, where he professes his love to her shock). Ted is the hopeless romantic who, for example, even stages a typical romantic date for another doctor Stella to fit her busy schedule. Still, as the romantic, who sees his best friends Marshall and Lilly love relationship as his model, Ted hopes one day to eventually fall in love with a woman (eventually the mother).

Zizek notes that what this virtual dating has done is to take us backwards to a time when marriages were arranged by parents. The choice is then for those who have one's best interests in mind and who match one on the basis of class, creed and race; there can be no event here. One of the things we have fought for in modern society is the ability and with it the responsibility to be a person in love and to act on it. The event is only for those two persons in love and its meaning will only be important to the couple as they remain faithful to this event. Again, good romantic movies play on the attraction of opposites that no computer could ever fathom of putting together.

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