What Your Approach to the “Favorite Books & Movies” Profile Question Says About You

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Previously on the Date Report, we’ve discussed what your specific literary and cinematic preferences might be suggesting to potentially suitable suitors. Today I’m interested in something a little different. I’ve noticed that in their online dating profiles, people approach the favorite movie and book lists in a variety of ways: some opt for long-winded essays that threaten the American Canon for length, while others elect to skip the section altogether.

So what do the length and content of your “favorite” lists say to your dating audience? Let’s take a look at 10 of the more common approaches we all encounter and the subtext underlying each.

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The Decliner

This person either lists no titles, claims there are “too many to list,” says “just msg me if you wanna know/better to talk about it in person,” or simply expresses an ire for lists of this type. They might come off as slightly abrasive (positive approaches > negative ones when it comes to first impressions) and furthermore, they’re wasting a great opportunity to forge a connection with someone. Everything you leave blank increases the likelihood that people will message you based on nothing beyond looks — is that really what you want?


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The Name-Dropper

This person lists authors instead of books, auteurs instead of movies. They want people to know that they’re serious about their cinephilia/literary enthusiasm, and hope to elicit the attention of people who hold such circles in a similar esteem.


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The Long-Winded One

This person must be seriously confused about the exclusivity the word “favorite” is intended to denote, because my eyes start to droop about halfway through his/her chronologically assembled library of “favorite” movies or books. The problem with this approach is that A) its hard to discern anything unique about your taste and B) the contemporary attention span wavers easily, so unless you’re really cute, visitors will probably just move on to the next one in lieu of reading your novel. On the bright side, you might come off as very attractive to another movie fanatic — someone who will go to the theater with you at least twice a week and update your joint Netflix queue daily.


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The Bestsellers’ List

This person lists fewer than five selections and three of them are Harry Potter, 50 Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games. Is this a person or the New York Times? We’re all confused. He/she reads the books that everyone else does, but rarely looks to expand horizons, which says to literary types that reading is more a charade for the morning commute than a serious hobby. You’ll seem “normal,” but this strategy does little to help you stand out in a crowd.


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Flavor of the Week

Oh, your three favorite movies of ALL TIME were released in the last six months? It must be such a great year in film! Except it’s probably not. This person just suffers from a classic case of hyperbole, which compels him/her to conflate a film’s quality with its currency. I’d consider shying away from this approach, as it could indicate to others — whether it’s actually true or not — that your long-term memory and critical thinking skills leave something to be desired.


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The Minimalist

One movie. One book. The brevity is probably intentional, the titles carefully considered and confidently listed. The idea is to give visitors a glimpse of one’s taste while maintaining an aura of mystery. This person is probably well-practiced in defending the credibility of his/her choices and eager for visitors to weigh in on the subject. If you like what you see, incorporate a quote into your message for brownie points.


Plus: What Your Bookshelf Says About You to a Date


The Genre “Geek”

One of the great features of online dating sites is the fact that they provide a channel for members of certain marginalized sub- and countercultures to connect. Utilizing advanced search functions, enthusiasts of oft insular communities that celebrate things like Power Rangers or The Wheel of Time series or Star Trek: Voyager can easily hook up with singles who share their life-consuming interests. And coming from someone who speaks proficient Elvish and plays a devastating Seeker, I can tell you that those girls aren’t always easy to find at the local pub.


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The Mixer of High- and Low-Brow

This persons flouts convention and invites controversy with a devil-may-care smile, offending elitists and confusing philistines by listing the Chelsea Handlers and Michael Bays of the world alongside names like DeLillo and Kubrick. More often than not, he/she might be the most evolved culture critic of all, able to take every piece of art “on its own terms” and reconcile a guilty pleasure for pulpy fun with the ability to take on more challenging, profound titles as well.


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The “Anything by Tarantino/Wes Anderson”

You know who you are. I suspect the alarming frequency of these answers can be written off to what I like to call “trying too hard.” I.e., I suspect many people (though not necessarily you) who express their admiration for Q.T. and the honorary third Wilson brother are probably not serious film buffs but want to look the part, so they plug in the names of the only two “critically-acclaimed” directors they know. Am I disparaging their work? Not at all. I think the adulation heaped on both is (for the most part) well-earned. All I’m saying is beware of jotting these names down, if only because such a strategy will place you squarely in a box that is already occupied by a large portion of the online dating community.


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The Perfect Match

Nothing is better than seeing a profile that lists some movies/books/writers I love alongside names I don’t know (but would like to!). Forget dating; these people represent an untapped resource — a kind of Pandora Internet Radio for books and movies. For example, I noticed that a lot of girls who shared my literary tastes were also big fans of Haruki Murakami. I eventually got my hands on one of his books (the oft-cited Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), and sure enough, it was an enjoyable read. Asking someone to suggest a good book or movie is a great way to start a conversation. Even if things don’t work out, you’ll have him/her to thank for the newest addition to your own “favorite _____s” list on your online dating profile.


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