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March 7, 2014 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Comedian Aziz Ansari has posted a subreddit asking for relationship and dating experiences. Ansari and NYU professor Eric Klinenberg are using the subreddit as part of their research for a new book on modern romance in the US and elsewhere.

Topics include "Has anyone done an arranged marriage? How did that go?," "Have you ever fallen in with love someone you weren't attracted to at first? How'd that happen?" and "Has anyone hired a consultant to help you put together an online dating profile or worked with a dating coach? How'd that go?"

Y"ou know when you text someone you're romantically interested in and you don't hear anything back and then you see them post a photo of a pizza on Instagram?" Ansari explained in a statement. "That's exactly what I want this book to deal with."

Business Insider wrote about the subreddit and the upcoming book.
posted by sweetkid (29 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANDY!
posted by Renoroc at 6:15 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Entertainment 720 is branching out in directions that I endorse.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:21 PM on March 7 [13 favorites]


The untitled book, which is expected to be published in September 2015, "will provide an investigation into what Ansari argues is an entirely new era for singles, in which the basic issues facing a single person -- whom we meet, how we meet them, and what happens next -- have been radically altered by new technologies."
In addition to his first person perspective, Ansari will work with "noted academics" and "conduct original research to help bring this new reality into focus."

posted by Bwithh at 6:30 PM on March 7


Good reddit threads get pillaged for articles all of the time. It's about time someone harnessed redditors to write a book for them.
posted by codswallop at 6:33 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I'm curious about Klinenberg's involvement. He's a legit dude -- I read Heat Wave in a qualitative research methods class in grad school, and it still sticks with me nearly ten years later. His last book was published by Penguin, and he's sort of edging into public intellectual territory (he was on Real Time a few weeks ago), so it'll be interesting to see if this changes his status at all.
posted by aaronetc at 6:43 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldnt've?
posted by mykescipark at 7:15 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Oh, Jesus fuck.

I think Aziz is a super-funny dude, but about half of the material in Dangerously Delicious came across like it was written by a bunch of fedora-wearing forever-alones from reddit who really resent that women haven't fallen onto their dicks. I do not foresee this project going well.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:28 PM on March 7 [6 favorites]


about half of the material in Dangerously Delicious came across like it was written by a bunch of fedora-wearing forever-alones from reddit who really resent that women haven't fallen onto their dicks.

I... respectfully disagree. Whenever that kind of stuff comes up in his acts, it always seems very clearly on the side of mocking such fedora-wearers. At least that's how I hear it. And to the extent he does get exasperated with relationship failure, like the bit about text message conversations trailing off, it seems equally applicable to men or women and he just has experience from the straight-guy perspective.

I'm usually pretty sensitive to the "nice guy" / PUA / fedora-wearing BS - I totally haaaaaaaaaate it hateitsomuch - and I don't get that vibe from Aziz's comedy routines.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 7:34 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I really liked his most recent special. I think this idea has promise.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:37 PM on March 7


I... respectfully disagree. Whenever that kind of stuff comes up in his acts, it always seems very clearly on the side of mocking such fedora-wearers.

Here is a transcript of Dangerously Delicious. By my reading, everything from 00:04:03 to 00:14:42 sounds like it could have been written by the Nice Guyingest dude that ever posted to reddit. I understand that reasonable people may differ in opinion on this, but I still haven't quite figured out how.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:42 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I understand that reasonable people may differ in opinion on this, but I still haven't quite figured out how.

Well, it seems to me that you're missing out on the part where he accurately predicts the outcome of the PUA shit his friend suggests, and then doesn't do any of it (I mean, obviously it's all a hypothetical, I mean his hypothetical self even thinks it's a bad idea). Whether it's the waitress bit, or the $100 muffin, he's lampooning the ridiculousness of those suggestions (the very ridiculousness that the fedoras don't seem to see, somehow).
posted by axiom at 8:53 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


That transcript is full of holes, by the way. I'm sure that you can find all those bits on youtube, though.
posted by axiom at 8:53 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


...yeah. Did you actually watch Dangerously Delicious, Parasite Unseen?
posted by sweetkid at 8:59 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I've watched all of his stand-up specials; like I said, I think he's a super-funny guy.

The whole reason he predicts that PUA shit won't work is because women are mean to him for no reason, and they only like guys who are dicks, and if one of them is spending time with you when she's already got a boyfriend it's because she willfully ignoring the nice dude's feelings.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 9:02 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I didn't take the 'women are mean to me for no reason' line as... seriously?... as you did. My interpretation of that part was that the reason the purse woman didn't take him seriously was that she was expecting the compliment was an excuse to chat her up. He's basically saying that the reason the woman was mean to him for no reason is because so many guys are relentlessly assholish to women. In other words, he's blaming the assholes (and the Nice Guys, who are a subset of the asshole species) for putting women on the defensive when they shouldn't have to be, which I think is a totally valid point.

I also think your take on the bit about the date with the girl-with-a-boyfriend is a bit different from my own. He basically says he was dating her for a while, he called her up and asked her out, she accepted and then "two hours before our date she calls me up [and says], 'Aziz, I really want to go out to dinner with you, but I kind of have a boyfriend now.'" He doesn't then say that he went to dinner with her anyway hoping she'd forget about the boyfriend (the Nice Guy move). I mean, it might have been cool of him to go to dinner anyway and just be friends, but if he's trying to date, it's legit to say "I'm not looking for a new friend," too.

I mean, I could be wrong, but you asked how a reasonable person might differ, and I think I'm pretty reasonable most days.
posted by axiom at 9:18 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


This is a rich vein that has gone unmined for quite a while. The questions are pointed and articulate as are quite a few of the answers. From Aziz Ansari in one of the threads -
In our focus groups, many young people (under 25) are TERRIFIED of phone calls. They say things like "Why would someone call?! It's so much pressure! I don't know what to say!!" Sherry Turkle has written some interesting stuff about how the reason young people are uncomfortable with phones is they are used to text based communication where you have a minute to gather your thoughts, etc. so an immediate medium like phone requires muscles they haven't built up.
It seems he is approaching this with some degree of seriousness.
posted by vapidave at 10:14 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


The thing is -- you can whinge about "nice guy"ism all you like, but between the crazy passive aggressiveness texting enables, and FOMO, exchanges like this occur between actual people all the time. Aziz is right. Tech is making lots of people weird.
posted by effugas at 1:05 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


This could be really interesting, but I'm not sure that Reddit is a great venue for it, seeing as how it tends to skew, eh, fedora-y. I'll grant you, I don't really go poking around Reddit very much, and I know there's some really great subreddits, but the site culture as whole seems like it wouldn't give the most representative data set.

On the other hand, I can't think of anywhere else that's similarly structured. Either way it should be interesting.
posted by dogheart at 4:06 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Way to screw up external validity, but I guess this is where the comedic value comes in.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:41 AM on March 8


You know when you text someone you're romantically interested in and you don't hear anything back and then you see them post a photo of a pizza on Instagram?"

See this is the part that's kind of illegible to me. Is this supposed to be weird? Like, the person is supposed to not take any other action whatsoever until they've answered your text?
posted by escabeche at 5:42 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


See this is the part that's kind of illegible to me. Is this supposed to be weird? Like, the person is supposed to not take any other action whatsoever until they've answered your text?

It's more like, there's no customs yet about how you are supposed to prioritize asynchronous communications. With a phone call, if you say something and the other person doesn't respond, they're in the wrong, but if you send someone an email, but they do other stuff before getting back to you, well, maybe they're putting off checking their email until they're at a keyboard. But is texting someone more like a phone call or an email? A Facebook wall post? Twitter @-reply or DM? There's no conventions yet, just a bunch of informal rules among various sub-communities, and it's hard to tell what's an intentional slight versus just cultural differences.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:27 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


They should have come to Ask Metafilter.
posted by infini at 1:28 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Ahh, escabeche, the problem here is a strange one. It is a little weird to text someone, get no reply, then a moment later see a photo of a pizza on Instagram. They obviously pulled up their phone and noticed they at least had a text message (whether they knew it was from you or not is an issue of the phone) and they went out of their way to ignore it and post a photo of the pizza. With that example, ignoring the text and going for the pizza is probably the most logical route. You want to show your friends that you're eating a delicious pizza, and hopefully you can get that picture out onto Instagram before the pizza gets cold. Replying to the text is something that takes more time away from you for eating the pizza before it gets cold. The big issue here is, after eating the pizza, does the person respond to the text or do they forget about it? More insidiously, do they intentionally ignore it?

I've intentionally ignored texts before simply because I am laying around in bed and am not trying to talk to anyone or do anything. Maybe the texts are so miscellaneous that I don't need to respond, otherwise I'll reply later.
posted by gucci mane at 8:22 PM on March 8


I'm a fedora hater from way back, but I find Aziz Ansari endearing and don't find his material to be sympathetic to that sort of thing at all. I also feel like Nice Guy/PUA behavior mostly only flies because nobody ever shines a light on it, and Ansari is uniquely poised to mock it, precisely because it's part of his audience.

FWIW they are not entirely basing their book off of the subreddit -- earlier this year they were doing a bunch of focus groups in the guise of standup shows. It was pretty interesting, and there were a LOT of feisty single women there weighing in on how annoying PUA types are. I hope they take into account that while they have access to a lot MORE data via Reddit, that data occupies a very specific niche and can't be substituted for "this is what everyone thinks".

My understanding from attending one of the focus groups is that this is an entirely serious and honestly thought out project. I'm sure it will be funny, but the project isn't a joke.
posted by Sara C. at 4:50 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


written by a bunch of fedora-wearing forever-alones from reddit who really resent that women haven't fallen onto their dicks.

"I'm not a fedora-wearing forever-alone from reddit who really resents that women haven't fallen onto my dick, but I play one in TV."

Aziz Ansari ≠ Tom Haverford
posted by Room 641-A at 8:30 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


"-- earlier this year they were doing a bunch of focus groups in the guise of standup shows."

Hrm. I read this comment much earlier, commented, deleted my comment but came back to wonder - aren't standup shows a sort of focus group? Bear with me please - standup shows are only successful so long as they are, well, popular - which is also the point of focus groups [understanding what a consumer wants and tailoring the product] as I understand them.

What would be the focus? I'm having trouble imagining what you would try and divine from the audiece of a standup comedy show that would allow you to sell a product, other than more [or less] standup comedy.

Or is "focus group" maybe not the right term and perhaps "new and novel way of gathering information" a more appropriate term?
posted by vapidave at 6:58 AM on March 10


I'm having trouble imagining what you would try and divine from the audiece

Focus groups don't try to divine anything, they ask specific questions and gather data. I assumed that's what this meant:
there were a LOT of feisty single women there weighing in on how annoying PUA types are. I hope they take into account that while they have access to a lot MORE data via Reddit, that data occupies a very specific niche
I've participated in and led focus groups before so I took the comment at face value. The audience is the target demo; you can ask about anything, not just the specifics of a comedy routine. Also, you don't always know what info they're really looking for.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:49 AM on March 10


vapidave, the difference between a standup show and a focus group is that a standup show is a performance, while a focus group is a forum.

When you give a live performance, while you get a response from the audience that helps you, as a performer, figure out how well your material is doing, it's unlikely that you're going to keep everyone there after the show and ask them questions about why they laughed, what they thought was funny, why they came to the show, relevant demographic info, etc.

When you participate in a focus group, the whole point is the questions, feedback, and discussion. There's also typically finely controlled demographic data associated with the feedback, so that you can quantify the data and say "men under 30 like fart jokes more than women over 50" or whatever.

The Aziz Ansari/Eric Klinenberg event I attended was much more like the latter than the former, though it was held at the UCB theater and Ansari warmed up the crowd with a very short standup set when we first arrived.
posted by Sara C. at 10:58 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


It was a pretty "novel" way of gathering data from young people about dating, though, you're right. Because it was a bit of a hybrid between the two types of events. I feel like it's hard to collect good data about this topic in a cold, clinical "rate these scenarios from 1 to 5" type of focus group setting, so couching it under the rubric of comedy is a pretty interesting way around that.

That said, it was definitely presented to participants as "come participate in a discussion about this topic", and not "come see a comedy show".
posted by Sara C. at 11:00 AM on March 10


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