Pop Culture, Scourge of the Onelys (Twice in a Week!): “I Vow” Commercials April 1, 2009Posted by Onely in "Against Love"...?, As If!, Dating, Heteronormativity, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys, Singled Out.
Tags: "i vow", chemistry.com, Laura Kipnis, rhetoric of work, what's wrong with flannel nightgowns?!, zyrtec, zyrtec commercial
OK. So I understand that Chemistry.com’s whole business revolves around assuming and promoting couple-dom as the most desirable relationship status. In order to do this, it’s no surprise that the company (and others like it) tends to promote stereotypes about and simultaneously degrade single people (see, for example, this offensive commercial).
But — as if that’s not enough — the newest series of Chemistry.com commercials, dubbed on YouTube as “Chemistry.com Vows,” presents two people mimicking wedding-ceremony protocol and normalizes the matrimaniacal tendencies of American culture.
I’ve used the above video as a prime example because, for one, it creeps me out. The woman begins,
I vow never to wear a flannel nightgown
And the man replies (with a creepy smirk):
Can you just make that, I vow never to wear a nightgown?
Eew – and that’s “chemistry”?! (not to mention: what, exactly, is wrong with flannel nightgowns — sheesh!)
But secondly, this video — and, indeed, the whole series — assumes that the goal of dating, even of relationship-making, is to make commitments that imitate heterosexual marriage rituals (because the goal is, eventually, marriage … right?!).
And, perhaps even more problematically, the series assumes that the “joy” of being in a relationship is to make compromises and to “fit in” with “normal” (non-flannel-pajama-wearing) society. In fact, all four of the Chemistry.com “Vow” ads that I found online pit one partner against the other, having one partner “vow” that he/she will “get over” (or at least conceal) the other person’s flaws. Take, for example, the “Subway” commercial:
And the (snarkier) “Gay” commercial (kudos to Chemistry, though, for at least matching same-sex couples):
Or, as in the flannel-pajama commercial above, one member of the couple agrees to compromise in order to make the relationship “work,” as in the “Sushi” commercial:
I understand and agree that good relationships will inevitably require compromise and even “dealing” with tastes that may not match your own. But why this push to make compromise and “putting up with” others — not to mention the push toward “serious” marriage-like commitment — the central tenet of what dating’s all about?
One of the reasons I’m single is because, in my last relationship, my partner was willing to put up with ALL of my flaws, and we had to “work” at every aspect of our relationship. He even said that if we ever got married, he thought we should see a relationship counselor regularly — just to make sure things “worked”! I couldn’t understand why we had to have this mindset; and eventually, I guess I just grew tired of having to constantly appreciate all the compromises he was willing to (and did) make for me (I suppose that all that appreciation on my end began to feel like “work”).
So, copious readers, what’s the deal with the rhetoric of “work” in relation to dating and relationships? I’ve written about this question previously in relation to Laura Kipnis’s compelling and polemical book, Against Love, and I’m interested in how “work” has become a “normal” aspect of what we expect when it comes to being “in love” and maintaining intimate relationships.
p.s. I searched and searched for a Zyrtec commercial that I just KNOW used the same “Vow” theme — but I can’t find it anywhere online. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? I found the theme even more bizarre in the context of an allergy medication!