by: Our Staff
I, Nico, have been working for some time on the idea of writing a piece on “bad date movies,” a subject I am very familiar with. (If you are familiar with my writing or me at all, I’m sure it comes as little surprise that I’ve been on a ton of bad dates to movies.) Recently, I took a man friend to see The Deep Blue Sea (which further solidified my hunch that I can’t pick a date movie for shit), and I have previously been on dates to Jesus Camp, Food, Inc., Antichrist and Police, Adjective. The latter was so boring that my date actually BEGGED me to leave and I refused. I paid eighteen dollars (the cost of both our tickets) for that piece of Romanian shit, and we were going to suffer through every minute of it. At that moment, I knew what I was going to be like as a parent. (God help my children.)
However, one bad date movie for me takes the cake, and in sharing that story, I asked our staff members to share their tales of romantic cinematic atrocities and support my dating ineptitude. These are all the nights we did not get laid.
The original plan was to see Juno, but it was sold out and we somehow ended up at There Will Be Blood. It gets better: despite having absolutely no chemistry, and despite having just watched Daniel Day-Lewis crush skulls with a bowling pin, he still attempted to seal the deal afterward. So, I put on Anchorman and pretended to fall asleep. College!
Shelby Fawn Mongan:
Despite a general lack of interest in me while in high school, I managed to go on a date or two. The most notably uncomfortable of these dates featured a fourteen year old Shelby, the most awkward member of my high school’s hockey team, and the movie Happy Feet. I could not tell you whether the movie was any good; I don’t remember a lick of it. I know that penguins were involved, but that’s about the extent. Our date had the maturity level of the movie but unfortunately was nowhere near as a successful. From then on, I chose to avoid children’s movies on dates. Trying to make out while sitting next to a slobbering five year old is not optimal.
On a first pseudo-date (she didn’t think it was a date like I unfortunately did), not even a month into my freshman year of college, I took a woman to Into The Wild. To this day, I’ve never wept harder at a movie. However, figuring that I couldn’t do so in front of her, I did the terrible thing where one endures ghastly facial contortions in order to maintain the illusion of composure. All I did was give myself a stress headache, and still had to run off to the bathroom after. A textbook case in how not to be dignified.
My one and only worst date movie experience so far sparked a few red flags and taught me a lesson. I have no problem with intelligent men being into anything that makes their pants pop.
However, I knew I was in for it when I learned that he was “fascinated” by sharks and suggested we see Shark Night 3D. To know me is to know that I think sharks are the biggest assholes on the planet and, quite frankly, scare me right into a therapist’s chair. A minor childhood trauma that isn’t very interesting, but when you like someone enough, you play it cool and take one for the team.
Although I shared this information with him and it turned into a “aww, you are so cute” situation, I turned up my bravery and told myself it’s just a movie. When I found myself flinching and sweating just walking past the movie poster, still, I went for it. When the movie started, he leaned over and said, “If you can get through this, I’ll make the rest of the evening worth your while,” not realizing that even a proposition like that wasn’t going to save him here. I am proud of myself for giving it a shot.
I got through about 35-40 minutes maybe and then decided that he wasn’t that cute. I got up and left. Yes, I was done after the first bite.
There are plenty of bad date movies in this world. I’m sure I could list plenty without trying too hard.
However, we writers were given explicit instructions to write from experience, and I have none. I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was 20 years old. We were both super Catholic, slightly high strung, and afraid of our feelings. So afraid, in fact that in two months of dating we didn’t actually go on a date, and the closest we got to physical intimacy was snuggling.
Then, my life became a walking cliché as I fell for the bad boy who pulled my good-Catholic-girl-self onto his path of corruption. This relationship lasted another two months and was, ahem, significantly more physical than the first. Yet, it still lacked an actual date. In fact, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I was on the cusp of turning 22, that I had my first official date. I friend-zoned him in the first ten minutes, and the evening cost me $32.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful guy, and we’re both in the poor-college-student boat, so it didn’t bother me to pay. But, it would be nice to be romanced for a change.
Before I graduate, I would like to say that I was pursued and respected by a charming gentleman caller who treated me to dinner and an absolutely horrible movie. However, with each tick of the clock, graduation draws nearer, and all of the men I know are gay or completely uninterested. So, until the day comes that I am enduring a film like Superbad or The Passion of the Christ and holding hands with a blues-dancing, theology-studying, social-justice-loving Casanova, I’m stuck with the answer that my worst bad date movie is having no bad date movie.
Surprisingly, Showgirls was the worst date experience I’ve had. Any time someone tells you that you are going to lose your “gay card” unless you see a movie, run away from them at full pace. To have such high expectations that someone will like a movie just because you are cute is the setup for disaster. I was so bored with the company, the movie and the conversation that about midway through I was actually searching for an excuse to leave. The poor guy actually let me get away with: “I’ve got to go. My roommate just lost her keys.”
There was a point in the Dali/Lorca/Bunuel “biopic” Little Ashes when I turned to my date with eyes wide and shouting “This has crossed from being funny-bad to taking a hatchet to things I actually enjoy.” From him I expected camaraderie, empathy; I expected him to say, “Hey, we can still laugh at Robert Pattinson’s attempt at both a Spanish accent and an mustache.” Or: “At least Lorca is attractive. Javier Beltran is working really hard to bring some sort of distinction or something to this heap.”
Instead, he just tried to rub my thigh more, lean into my shoulder, writhe and sigh. I thought he was bored. I was inexperienced with men. When the house lights went up, I turned to him ready to say, “What the hell was that?” yet before I could, he was saying how much he loved it, how he thought it was so sexy and interesting. I sank back a little into the thick-cushioned stadium seat and tried to find a footing of shared thoughts, what could I say that was nice about what I thought was a vapid and cold treatment of a really incredible point in history. In my opinion, they played up the “hearthrob is gay Dali” angle, when they could have gone more, “Lorca was a gay man who inspired rebellion against a facist dictatorship.” It was a lot of overacted speculation that seemed inspired by history. However, you can’t really say that to someone you still want to not sound pretentious/douchey to, and still sex/cuddleable in the future, especially on what was our first date.
I told him I liked how some of the scenes were filmed, that I liked Lorca, and that the woman who played Gala was spot-on crazy-eyed and wonderful. I did let bits slip about my distaste, and he was mildly receptive. Really though, I think he just bounced on blissfully, again mentioning how hot and stylish the movie was; it wasn’t off -putting that those were some of the only words he wanted to use to describe things he liked. He had been doing it all through the date.
I think what might have been the worst part of the date was on the bus back towards our respective homes, when I realized that the film had gotten him worked up. Allusions became clearer, my thigh was still being rubbed, and it became apparent that his eyes were whittled into darts. He took the film as foreplay, and I was not exactly enthusiastic about anything further on that date. If I actually did want a second or third date, that was when I thought friskiness would be best. I glanced at his crotch for a second to see the extent of the films effect. Small dots that had seeped through his now made even more skin tight jeans. I was both flattered and a little frightened.
I rebuffed him as I detached and hopped off the bus when my stop came up. I was nice about it though, somehow sprouting a sense of coy decency. He text flirted with me for the rest of his trip home. I made sure our next date was not to the movies. Remember, I was inexperienced with men.
I think the whole idea of a “bad date movie” is sort of a bizarre notion. Have some of the movies I’ve screened on early dates been horrendously awkward, torturous-to-some choices? Undoubtedly, yes. Considering that Lucky McKee’s 2001 film May, starring Angela Bettis, was a long go-to choice of mine, absolutely, yes.
But, like any other choice made for a date, it all depends on what one hopes to accomplish. In my case, I approached dates with the goal of identifying an individual who could put up with me on a day-to-day, very possibly live-in, definitely long-term basis. With that in mind, it would have been counterintuitive to sacrifice putting on the sort of films I am typically into: dark, quirky, sometimes challenging, but unapologetically different. I once made someone watch David Lynch’s Blue Velvet on a second date. He kind of hated it. And we’ve been dating for going on three years.