1984


Band: Van Halen
Album: 1984
Best song: The singles are great, though “Hot for Teacher” might be the best.
Worst song: “Girl Gone Bad” isn’t much.

I’ve a rudimentary knowledge of statistics and most of that is founded on baseball and or the various semesters I’ve spent in college flailing about a calculator. Which is to say that I take a lot of studies at face value.

OKCupid, a free dating site, recently released a study on race and interests vis a vis the OKCupid site. The study has made its way around the internet a bit. The OKCupid people have some interesting commentary, but do not expound on it too much.

(Just a note. I’m about to play a little bit of sociologist here and will be talking a bit about race and such. If that offends you, sorry. If you think I’m wrong, feel free to comment.)

Reading into this particular study is worthwhile if one reads it correctly. As such, a few caveats. Some should go without mention, some are positive. Some are negative.

500,000+ people is a whole fucking lot of people. It’s much better than a small sample size, extrapolated to represent the entire world. Political polling often uses 10,000 or fewer people.

OKCupid is free, therefore, the self-selection among financial lines is less than on a paid site. Sure, the cost of owning a computer is no zero, but there are computers on college campuses, libraries, etc.

This is only a cross-section of those with inherent problems meeting a mate. We’d all like to believe that internet dating does not come with the stigma that it once did, but, well, it does. It’s not the same as meeting in a bar/at class/through friends/etc. This group of people is self-selected in that they are not inherently as socially adjusted as their counterparts that have met someone.

Like the old radio ratings, much of the self-identification is idealized. Instead of saying “I like to eat cookies and watch YouTube videos of cats,” people enter what the want to be. They read more, see more foreign films, etc.

The semi-anonymity of the web likely has the respondents being more honest. Well, sorta. They’re more honest in the sense that they don’t feel it necessary to say “I like to look at porn all day.” But…

Self-selection also occurs because these people, in theory, are trying to attract a mate. This is the most confounding thing in the entire piece, quite frankly.

Which is to say this: Every sex/race combination’s interests make some sense to me in regards to the honesty/trying to attract a mate continuum. White women like things that stereotypical white women like: Yoga, Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally, Nicholas Sparks, cooking, whatever. But, white women also try to get men into the tent by emphasizing their love of things white dudes stereotypically like (“Yankees,” “NASCAR” and “Red Sox” are in the top 16 terms), as well as mentioning things that may attract men “I’m blond” clocks in at no. 15 and “my red hair” is not far behind.). Black men try to emphasize their personalities — boring as “I’m cool” may be, it is a way to tell someone that you are cool, I guess — to possible mates, right after “soul food.” Black women emphasize the Coming to America adage that you meet good girls at church, emphasizing their faith by mentioning that they are into “God.” Latin men and women mention their love to dance — seriously, guys? “Merengue” as the top? Seriously? — which both attracts mates and fulfils a ridiculous stereotype. But, similarly, there are music types and ethnic designations within the (admittedly, very broadly termed) Latin groups. Nothing wrong with saying “Hey, I’m Cuban. Maybe you’re Cuban.” It’s one more thing to talk about. Asian men do the same thing, mentioning “Taiwan,” “Korea” and “Singapore” within the top five terms, as well as “Korean and “Pho” in the top 10. Asian women — like Asian men — tout their simplicity, which, I guess is a plus.

But, white men. White men are the worst. We — I am a white man, so take that for what it is — tend to just brain dump all the shit we like. As such, three of the four most popular terms in white men’s profiles are decidedly masculine. And not in a Don Draper way.

Tom Clancy.
Van Halen.
Harley Davidson.

(“Golf” is no. 3 on there, which I classify as “something with which to attract a mate” and even that’s kind of a stretch. “Golf” equals “rich” and who doesn’t like rich?)

Look, I’m a white, heterosexual man, so I can’t really speak to what is attractive in a white man. But, I can say this: If I’m trying to attract heterosexual women of any race, my top term is not going to be a guy who writes techy spy novels, guitar god or the hulking shell of testosterone that is a Harley.

I’m not suggesting that we white men need to fill our profiles with terms like “scented candles,” “ponies” and “things with bows” or some other such uber-feminine nonsense. But, honestly, guys, we can do better than “brew.” Or “I can fix anything” (are women looking online for Bob fucking Vila?). “Grilling” (caveman much?). Or “Soundgarden.”

(Look, I love Soundgarden. Love them. But, I wouldn’t want to broadcast that to women too loudly. Broken Social Scene? Sure. There are female BSS fans. Elliott Smith? That may be laying it on a little thick, but sure. Soundgarden? Uh, no.)

Van Halen’s 1984 was one of the albums on which I was raised. “Jump” was the first song I remember from the guitar god’s oeuvre. Eddie Van Halen isn’t as guitar-y as he would be on the band’s earlier records, as “Jump” is propelled by a dancing keyboard riff. Indeed, the song has absolutely no solo. “Hot for Teacher” is better in the sense that Eddie rolls through solos everywhere. “Drop Dead Legs” has similar solos and “Top Jimmy” is fast and fun. “Panama” has that ridiculous breakdown in which Roth starts talking about a car. “I’ll Wait” is a slowed down romp about a model. In fact, that song’s probably about masturbation. Whatever.

David Lee Roth’s sexual grunting and moaning propels the album and to say there is a more 1980s album would be blasphemy. I just don’t think a lot of women would say the same.

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One Comment

  1. R.J.
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    A note on race:

    A quick look at the records I’ve reviewed on this reveals that I am the whitest person alive.

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