So, the narrator of Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit, "Escape (the Piña Colada Song)," finally heads over to O'Malleys to meet up with the mystery chick he's been groovin' on from a personal ad. But, wouldn't you know it - when she arrives, it's his own "lady," of whom he'd "grown tired."
It's a bit of a shock, but they laugh it off. And, they learn an important lesson - that the objects of their own fantasies have a lot more in common than the real individuals in their own actual relationship. Like, making love at midnight, finding yoga distasteful, and philandering. Listeners of this "far-out" 1979 hit (seriously, watch this hysterical live performance) are left believing that the clearly dying relationship will be rehabbed with just a little face time and some communication.
New York photographer Nev Schulman had a somewhat similar experience, which was documented by filmmakers Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost - his brother and friend - in 2010's hit documentary Catfish. Schulman met, fell for, and maintained an 8 month relationship with his dream girl on Facebook, but his rendezvous with her resulted in a ... less-than-ideal ending. Schulman is a class act with a deep sense of compassion and a keen interest in human behavior, and rather than dwell on one ... unusual romantic experience, he's chosen to use his story to probe further into the dynamics of human relationships and - hopefully - help others in the process.
Schulman gave us a call this week to talk about his upcoming MTV show - also titled Catfish and to reach out to Dallasites who might be in similar situations and want to further explore their online relationships. Find out how you can appear on Catfish after the jump.
A Sundance hit,Catfish
generated a lot of discussion and more than a few accusations against its authenticity. But, the film does something rare - it presents humans, flawed and searching, but manages to never dwindle into exploitation or sensationalism, no matter how "sensational" the twist of its ending. In fact, its empathy is its strongest asset.
Schulman hopes its television incarnation will do the same. Acting as host, he and his friend Max will tour the country, talking to individuals entwined in romantic relationships with people met over the internet. As part of each episode, they will sojourn across the country to finally meet that person face-to-face to see if the relationship still has legs, outside of a 19 inch monitor. The show confronts issues of identity - both in how we project ourselves online and how we interpret others' online personas - and questions the ways in which we communicate.
Whether or not the original Catfish was, as some suggest, scripted or not, its overarching value is that it forces us to honestly reconsider our own emotional states when it comes to "falling for someone," and to wonder how much of that ineffable feeling toward an external object is merely an internal, imagined phenomenon.
A bit bluntly, we asked Schulman if he ever catches himself missing Megan, the woman with whom, according to the film, he wrongly believed to have been in a long-term relationship.
"I was responsible for allowing it to happen," Schulman said, "We are always looking and hoping to find the love of our life and we create fantasies. I fooled myself as much as [I was fooled]. She interpreted my emotions very accurately and used them to create my dream girl."
But, Schulman isn't bitter. In fact, he has found hope and growth through his experience. "I deeply respect people who are creative and imaginative, and I think our society wrongly stigmatizes people who use a false identity online. Do I sometimes wish it had happened differently? Sure. But, she inspired me and excited me and gave me an experience I'm glad I had."
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And, MTV's Catfish hopes to do the same. The show is currently casting for its first season and is actively looking for individuals in long-distance relationships with partners met online and who they haven't yet met in person. Ideal candidates will want to have meaningful experiences where they meet, as Schulman puts it, "in a safe and hopefully compassionate way."
As is the very nature of online relationships, the creative team is expecting that more than a few candidates will need to come clean about misrepresentations that began innocently enough but have snowballed into a seemingly insurmountable issue when the pairs meet in person. But, the show hopes to bring relationships out of the fantasy and into the real world while facilitating meaningful - if not perfect - life experiences.
In an LDR with a 1337 lover who seems to good to be true? Quell your fears or at least get your questions answered on MTV's Catfish by applying here.