Can Maurizio Cattelan Save OKCupid?

In the cutthroat world of online dating, OKCupid was once the blazer of trails in the arena called “find me someone to pay for my dinner,” and at a time when one primarily used their computer instead of their phone for such attempts at not feeling alone. Of late, however, it’s become viewed as the dinosaur of curated internet encounters (in spite of it being founded in 2004, not, like, 1994–which goes to show the brevity of the attention span of the common millennial). Created by Harvard students Chris Coyne, Christian Rudder, Sam Yagan and Max Krohn based on a Myers-Briggs style match test, OKCupid spawned from SparkMatch (think The Facebook versus Facebook). And, once again, this proves that people in the realm of the Ivy League have no interest in things of an intellectual nature so much as making a shit ton of money.

Its most overt competitor, Tinder, was released in 2012. This was already well after OKCupid’s cachet was usurped, but with Tinder, its antiquity was secured. The delightful encouragement of disposability promoted by the app, the addictiveness of swiping right through bodies like Cher Horowitz picking out an ensemble in the morning became the new norm. Not just addictive, but also much easier than reading too intricately about the potential fuck in question. Yes, Tinder had the more “visual element” on lockdown, leaving OKCupid in the category of other relics like eHarmony or match.com.

So now, as Tinder itself is being stamped out by other, less objectifying apps (at least the #MeToo movement has prompted some dating algorithms to retool their approach) like Bumble, Raya and Coffee Meets Bagel, OKCupid seems to be thinking about how it wants to rebrand itself in a post-woman freely hating men for their lechery world.

Enter co-collaborators Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. Because if anybody can bring romance back into the cold world of intangible trolling, it’s Italians. Known for their cheeky, open to interpretation wit in the iconic photoshoots for Toilet Paper magazine, this duo has taken their OKCupid assignment very seriously, imbuing the ad campaign with the humor and irreverence needed to get people to change their minds about the meaning of “DTF.”

As something of an homage behind the concept of How About We, redefining “DTF,” for Cattelan and Ferrari, meant centering the abbreviation behind the word “F” into something activity-based, e.g. “Down to Fire Up the Kiln,” “Down to Fifty-Five Hour Binge” “Down to Finish My Novel,” etc. (need it be mentioned that this is a highly Brooklyn-centric rebranding?). In short, Cattelan and Ferrari are doing their best to make the thought of investing your time in a total stranger slightly more palatable, especially if you’re in that category of being “aged out” of the Tinder demographic.

So, yes, on the one hand, Cattelan and Ferrari have reinvigorated the premise behind OKCupid, while also attempting to make men seem less scary and sexually appetitive. But on the other, there’s something melancholic about the bourgeois homogeneity of such activities as “Fall Head Over Heels” or “Farmer’s Market.” Still, one must commend all the bases OKCupid, Cattelan and Ferrari covered in running the gamut of couple permutations (minus gay men, that would be perhaps too much for an Italian uomo to address)–from interracial to lesbian. In short, everyone can be DTF, whatever that “F” might mean to you on a more personal level. And if carefully positioned art custom-designed by Cattelan and Ferrari can’t make throwing yourself into the shallow, abyssal dating pool with reckless abandon seem like a good idea, then what can? Surely not the clientele itself.

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