Dating at the Movies (1)And now for something completely different. Something on a more personal level. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the following stories are all true …

Can you tell whether the people you date qualify as relationship material based on your movie-going experience with them?

I know, this sounds like a strange or trivial way to determine a good catch. There are more obvious yardsticks you can rely on (like say, if the person has a good job and a solid family background, or looks totally awesome in tight tees). But for the longest time, this helped me size up prospective girlfriends. Which may account for why I am usually single. But there is merit in this method. Allow me to explain.

I’ve noticed that the way people respond to a film reveals a lot about their own worldview, and the way they behave in the cinema betrays their personality traits and idiosyncrasies. It’s sort of like a sneak preview of the entire persona. It hasn’t led to me finding Ms. Right, but it sure has worked as an Early Warning System to filter out the weirdos, the psychos, the bimbos, the social retards, and the “Twilight” fans. Now before you ladies get all riled up over this so-called objectification, please note that my article isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Except by you “Twilight” fans. Perhaps one day you shall realise that proper vampires do not glitter daintily in broad daylight. They merely explode in a ball of screaming hellfire, like all self-respecting vampires do.

Back on track … This Early Warning System of mine has a meter that ranges from the obvious Red Flags, to the more subtle, won’t-know-they’re-wrong-for-you-till-after-several-dates kinda gals. Let’s start with the obvious. As a filmmaker, M. Night Shyamalan is now utterly useless, but his latest films are an excellent way to determine the Red Flag types. I resisted watching “The Last Airbender” in the cinema because I generally don’t like testicular pain. And I was told that watching it is the equivalent of getting repeatedly kicked in the nuts. By a “Twilight” fan.

Recently, I met this girl. Seemed sweet enough on the outside. Our first proper outing would’ve been the standard dinner and a movie. I had booked a number of movies, but she didn’t want to watch any of them. First Red Flag, by the way: people who can’t make up their mind, yet don’t like any of the choices you offer them. She suggested getting some DVDs and watching them at home instead. I chose a few genres that I thought would cover the bases: action, chick-flick, comedy and art film (no, not porn). Again, she didn’t like anything I recommended. The natural response was to let her choose. We stood in the shop for nearly half an hour, while she stared blankly at the rows and rows of DVDs. Finally, she picked one up. Yup, it was “The Last Airbender”. Very diplomatically, I asked if she’d heard any bad word-of-mouth about this movie. She just shrugged and said she liked “kid’s films”.

If by kid’s films she meant the kind of kids who grow up to be serial killers, then yes, this is indeed a kid’s film. Because while/after watching it, you’d very likely be driven to murder lots of people. Preferably the cast and crew of “The Last Airbender”. My date, on the other hand, liked the film. Apparently, it was better than “pretentious” movies like “Inception”. Normally, I’m not one to make up my mind about someone so quickly. But here’s the kicker: she saw the look on my face when the end credits rolled. It was the look of a man who’d had the light of the universe forcibly and violently extracted from his soul (also known as the “got repeatedly kicked in the nuts” look). And she got annoyed at ME. “Why do you have to make fun of what I like?” I hadn’t. I was too busy re-compiling my mental list of “Worst Films Of 2010 & In The History Of Forever”. But she felt that some insult had been thrown at her because my look suggested I didn’t agree that the one film she’d chosen was a good choice. The night ended awkwardly yet (amazingly) on a civil note. And that was that.

I really should’ve known better. After all, through the years I’d encountered quite a number of girls who’d given off warning signals right from the start. There was this really quiet chick who kept staring at me throughout the film instead of the screen. When I asked her why, she just smiled and continued staring, as if the map to the Lost Ark of the Covenant or the Colonel’s Secret Recipe was tattooed on the side of my head. It didn’t help that her long black hair reminded me of Sadako from “The Ring”. I tell you, she scared the crap outta me.

Then there was this gorgeous, leggy model who complained about everything. She hated the seats we’d gotten because she only liked to sit right at the back, then she whined about the popcorn being stale, and after the movie she accused me of not having explained the “complicated” plot to her — during the movie. Then again, even if I wanted to, it wouldn’t have been possible because she spent the entire running time texting her hairdresser and her make-up artist. I knew this because she spent the whole dinner afterwards talking about nothing except her hairdresser and her make-up artist. Being the gullible (and shallow) guy that I once was, I nodded politely at her monologue, in an attempt to “get to know her better” if you know what I mean. I did not succeed.

Dating at the Movies (2)Let’s turn back the clock a few more years. Now, this girl was pleasant, good-natured and cheerful. Maybe a little TOO cheerful. I can’t fault someone for having the sunny disposition of a Labrador puppy. The thing is, this girl liked to giggle at the movies. A lot. In fact, she laughed at pretty much everything on screen. Every. Single. Thing. I kid you not. Like the Ministry of Health’s community service message about the dangers of Swine Flu. The people in the ad were shown cocooned in giant red bubbles, presumably because being cocooned in a giant red bubble is among the symptoms of Swine Flu infection. She found this hilarious. Now, while I do concede that some Government ads are unintentionally funny, this one was just lame. I wrote it off as her being in a good mood.

Then the film started. And the giggles resumed. Followed by full-on laughter. That would be perfectly commonplace if we were watching a breezy rom-com. But we were watching “Behind Enemy Lines”, a dour action flick starring a terribly miscast Owen Wilson as a navy pilot shot down over war-torn Bosnia. I’m sure there are exceptions but in general, Serbian killing fields aren’t exactly considered comedy gold. Imagine watching “Schindler’s List” with a bunch of Holocaust survivors, and when the Nazis start herding terrified prisoners into the poison gas chamber … your movie companion starts chuckling at “ze wacky Germans”. To be fair, she wasn’t actually sniggering at the pile of dead bodies in the mass grave, but at the sight of Owen Wilson falling face-first into the pile of dead bodies in the mass grave. In hindsight, there is a difference. But at that moment, it felt a wee bit inappropriate.

I purposely avoided the cinema for our next few outings. Her giggling fits didn’t seem so pronounced during regular conversation. So I assumed that it was a one-off incident and the coast was clear. Boy, was I wrong. Ever wondered what the Joker would sound like if he inhaled too much laughing gas? Then you should take this girl to watch a Stephen Chow comedy. I called it quits after that, with some degree of guilt. I mean, as annoying as it was, it really wasn’t her fault. But this was a quirk that I simply could not get past. I knew this would be one of those things that would escalate if we ever got serious. At least I didn’t lose a friend. As a matter of fact, we’re still good friends and she knows full well that she’s featured in this article. She’s actually proud. Now THAT’S funny.

I’ve said a lot about the movie dates that were dead ends. Fortunately, there have been a few that weren’t. They were memorable in all the right ways. Everyone has their respective relationship milestones. First date, first kiss, first time holding hands, and so on. Mine is the first movie we watch as a couple. That’s how immersed I am in the celluloid world. And when I get involved with someone, I invite her to share my passion, to walk with me in my world.

To this day, I have only ever found one woman like that. Someone I not only enjoyed going to the movies with, but a person I could also discuss, dissect, debate those movies at length and on equal terms with. I always found her opinions fascinating and refreshing. It wasn’t limited to films either. Beyond our common passion, I saw so much more in her. And we became much more than just movie companions. A wise person once told me that the best life-partner is one you never ever get tired of talking to. That’s exactly what I had. Yeah, you could say she was special.

We’re no longer together now. Maybe I didn’t make her feel special enough, or perhaps we just weren’t meant to be. But that’s not the point. Ultimately, I believe it is entirely possible to discover the one you’ve been looking for, through those magic moments when the lights go down and the silver screen comes to life.

For now however, I’ll stick to movie outings with the guys.

Storyteller by trade and dreamer by nature, Wai has been deeply nuts about the celluloid world since the first time he discovered he could watch a story instead of reading it. But he likes writing about it. Wai goes by a single name because he likes to avoid any “Imperial entanglements” (a.k.a. “conflict of interest with the powers that be” for those of you who don’t speak Star Wars) in his employment. Plus, cool people use one-word names.

Storyteller by trade and dreamer by nature, Wai has been deeply nuts about the celluloid world since the first time he discovered he could watch a story instead of reading it. But he likes writing about...

42 replies on “Wai’s Opinionator: How to Spot a Girlfriend at the Movies”

  1. When u had nothing interesting to talk to your dates, the best way to escape the embarrassment is to have 2hrs silence break !

    Wah ha ha …..

  2. There's always two sides to every story but early warning signs should not be taken lightly and I would agree with you on this one. A brave piece and a well written one too with a light hearted twist. And yes I do agree that some people would benefit from a "funny bone graft" procedure for the sake of their sanity.

  3. Jason kay, wh4, dd_lwm, thanks for writing. Glad u liked it.

    Yoke: thanks for sharing your own stories. Sounds like you had a few Red Flags yourself. And you're spot on with the point that just because we disagree with others on our taste in movies, it doesn't mean we can't be friends with them.

    ladymissazira: cheers for the support. As for censorship, things have gotten slightly better recently. Now, 18-rated films no longer have the swear words censored.

  4. I rarely watch movies in cinemas due to the plot-ruining censorship in Msia, but when I do, I don't really care. I just watch.

    Unless the movie is REALLY bad, like Twilight (me & my best friend cracked jokes during the entire movie), I expect the other person to shudup and let me concentrate on the movie.

    Yes, I'm weird that way.

    The truth is, people have different ways of watching movies. Live and let live.

    I don't find this article offensive either, it's just an observation of how people react. Some guys genuinely care, for e.g. how a girl acts when he's talking about cars, or about fashion, etc. Each to their own.

    Wai wants a girl who loves movies as much as he does. *shrugs* What's wrong with that?

  5. I don't know what the feminist fuss is about. This can be applied to men too, no?

    And it's true! Men or women, I personally have a great dislike for ppl who talk during movies or laugh inappropriately. If I were out on a date and he acted like any of the women described above, I would think the same things too. I don't care too much about movie tastes (oh hey, I thought G.I. Joe was highly entertaining) but one should at least be able to say why he/she does/doesn't like the movie coherently instead of just going "I like kids movies" or "it's just stupid lah!"

    I remembered watching Percy Jackson and some chick sitting behind me laughed at the sight of a spit roasted pig. WTF??? She actually went like "hahaha! roast pig! hahaha!" The hell was that shit about? At that point I sorta made a deduction that she possibly had the IQ of a raisin. I mean, that was the impression she gave me.

    It's not to say that these individuals are horrible, bad people who can't ever be your friends and we don't wanna associate with them cuz we're so "up there" and "cultured", I have plenty of friends who like to talk and sms and ask questions during movies and they're mostly great and intelligent (though very annoying during movies) ppl. I even have a friend who couldn't understand what was happening in The Lion King! -___- But I suppose some personality traits are a tell-tale sign that this person may not be someone you'd like to spend the rest of your life with. Like how Wai is still friends with Giggly Girl but don't think they'll work out as a couple.

    That being said, my bf thinks Army of Darkness is a stupid film. Like SAY WHAT???

  6. Oh God Forbid I should bring a guy who would watch Evita fully unaware it is a musical and uttering what he did! It was the poor girl he was with that I felt sorry for!

  7. Nice & funny write up, indeed very touching ending, although i was quite surprise u r going into personal story now, which is quite unusual for u. Thanks for sharing and keep it up!

  8. This comment is not meant to infuriate but Twilight is the awesomest series of movies evar!

    Just kidding. Great article dude. Keep on rockin'

    And Postal is the awesomest movie. Seriously.

  9. migrant: I appreciate your support, and I know you likely directed that at Jo-Lene in jest, but it's kind of a harsh way to speak to a lady, no?

    LN: yes, i agree that it's always fascinating to compare perspectives. After all, (good) art is meant to generate thoughtful discussion and analysis.

    Akiera L, ZZ Top, Ali, kopilighter: cheers for the kind words.

    Gwen 10: it's alright, I understand you meant no harm. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  10. Ong Jo-Lene wrote: "If I wrote a light hearted article about how smelly migrant workers stinking of day old curry, sound retarded and incomprehensible with their Bangla and Paki accents and should only be toilet cleaners and not handle any item that will end up on my body"

    If i begin a sentence with "If I wrote a light hearted article about…", does that entitle me (even though I disagree with it) to go on about how you sounded like your retarded brain was rushing for the crapper after s-thinking of day old curry which flatulated out of your mouth while you're giving head to a hard-working migrant worker in the cinema toilet after he scrubbed the floor with your incomprehensibly coarse and smelly armpit hair as you moan "more-lah more-lah more-lah" in the same fake accent Auntie Pam used to say "marahlah marahlah marahlah" to the cops.

    Well, they do say opposites attract so I sincerely hope you meet somebody who is attractive, honest, intelligent, and cultured.

  11. I think it's funny how your dates ended. I tried watching Last Airbender and my integrity got bended. Whoa. Never mind the story arc or lack of one but the acting (or the lack of any)!!

    I love movies too but certainly have not immersed myself in the world as you have. It's nice to also see what your friends like and what they think of the movies you like because perspective is interesting to me. Even if you think you and your friend(s) are very similar to you.

    Good job.

  12. @wai: I think my post came out wrong. I'm sorry if it sounded like I was attacking you. What I was trying to say (but obviously failed to) was that your article wasn't offensive. Because although I don't use movies, I use my own personal screener when it comes to personal relationships.

    I think Allie put my thoughts down better than I did. That a person's reaction to what we value (movies, in your case) tell us whether they'll be around for keeps.

    I agree too that proper conduct is basic decency you owe your date. Or whoever you're with. I guess what I meant was that before this article, it never occured to me how big a deal it was.

    I meant to compliment your article whe I said there was a universality to the underlying thought. Sorry if it didn't come out that way.

    At any rate, I genuinely enjoyed your piece.

  13. Well, as a woman, I don't think it was very insulting. Even women have their own jokes about men, especially seemingly poking fun at men's inability to look past the outward appearances and lack of multitasking functions built in their system. Well, I do judge guys by the movies they watch too. Just like Wai, I can never understand how anyone can like movies that have been way overdone again and again like Date Night and the latest Resident Evil. (I'm expecting to be bashed for hating RE. lol) I loved Inception, and I was actually called silly for watching it more than once since that movie was deemed "too complicated when movies should be just entertainment". So, in a certain sense, it does make a difference in the dating game whether he/she likes the same things you do. It is not like we both can't have different opinions, but by the way he/she reacts, I guess it tells you earlier on whether there will be problems later or not.

    Another great piece Wai, and I hope you will continue writing like this. I always love to read what you write anyway. Looking forward to the "poking fun" piece about the Last Airbender. This is your first piece on your opinions right? Hope to see more of these too. Keep it up Wai. :)

  14. Hihi so funny this review! I had dated a guy who was like you, so crazy about movies, and excited when he watched the previews especially the animated stuffs like Pixars. He was like a small boy. I agree that its not for women to be rude as like men can be. No excuse as you said. Sir Wai, the ending is very touching and sweet and I think you must be still in love with that girl! Come on tell us! Keep up the funny stories pleazzz!

  15. A satirical piece this may be, but the last bit was not (so touching ah!). I could practically hear Elvis' voice in the background- maybe I didn't treat you..quite as good as I should have…Little things I should have said and done…I just never took the time.

    Sigh…Wai ah Wai, honestly I think she (rather than the other girls) is the reason why you're watching movies only with guys now. I say, time for new hobby!

  16. Gwen 10: you’re right, it’s pointless to be offended. Because going by your own rationale, you have applied the same judgemental yardstick on men as well. You wrote off a date based on his insensitive behavior. That’s precisely the sort of rules I applied on the rude or insensitive dates that I encountered. Of course you have to worry about your movie-watching conduct. Everybody should. Just because you are a woman, it does not excuse you from poor conduct in the cinema, like texting non-stop, or telling your date off for not agreeing with your taste in films. Equality works both ways. Thanks for your comments all the same.

    Kartina: hahaha, nice one! The thing is, guys can be just as annoying in the cinema, or even more so. That might very well be the subject of a future article…

  17. I don't know if using movie as a filter is a good idea, but it seems that this article does have a filtering effect. LOL.

  18. As a woman, my instinctive reaction was to be offended by this. I have enough problems running after "the ideal woman" image (lustrous hair, tiny waist, clear skin, kitchen godess, great with kids, etc etc, etc). Now I have to worry about my movie-watching conduct too?!


    But honestly, I figured it's pointless to be offended. We all have ways of filtering out the stuff we have in our lives. And yeah, that includes the people we date. We may not be using a yardstick as specific as a movie, but we have one anyway.

    After all, we must have our reasons for turning down a second date, right? (mine was when he described Dutch children trying to practice their English by chatting with him as, 'annoying'. He then tried to soften it by saying it was only because he had a hangover then. Thank you but goodnight.)

    Looking beyond the method, the reason why you do it, or even have it, is universal.

    What I WOULD take offense at though is if This was your only method for screening. But I trust that a man who can judge a film on its writing, acting, cinematography, story-telling and a host of other criteria will certainly apply the same thorough thought process when it comes to women.

    Or you could just watch movies with the guys for the rest of your life. :D

  19. Ah, it's good to know that most of you chose to see the lighter side of things. Much appreciated.

    Popia: Hornby rules!

    teo siew chin: that's a pretty funny idea, but I'm not sure she will want to now…

    Syazwina: I must say "Mr Smith goes to Washington" is my 2nd favourite Frank Capra/Jimmy Stewart collaboration! The first would be "It's a Wonderful Life". Stewart is awesome, the Tom Hanks of his day. However, sad to say I've never watched "Splendor in the Grass". The only Elia Kazan film I'm familiar with is "On the Waterfront" with Brando.

    asian malaysian: "Airbender" will be again featured in an upcoming piece. It's fun making fun of M. Night!

    Jen, that bit about Evita was priceless. Did your date actually say that? wtf

    benjamin, melvis, Piqued, and genimem: thanks for your comments!

    Angeline: nah, I think I'll remain a bachelor for a while. Relationships are painful!

  20. Hey Wai, great stuff. I was laughing my head off reading this. Loved the sarcasm. You'll find your woman soon…

  21. Wai said that his stories are true, so we should not stop him or criticise him from writing about his feelings towards his dates. Not sexist or discriminatory, its what he feels.

    Also, freedom of association includes who u awnt to date or sleep with or life partner; keep writing wai!

  22. Hey Wai, some people just can't take a joke eh?

    This piece is only offensive to those bra burning feminist who ask and demand for equal rights, but still find it appropriate to require a guy to hold the door open for them. I really do not see how it demeans anybody. It's your check list to finding a great woman, so who are we to judge?

    This was a well written and succinct piece which everyone kind of thinks it, but is much too afraid to put it in black and white. Come on, don't we cringe in horror and strike a person off our date list if he laughs uncontrollably at lame jokes or slap stick comedy or exclaim after 2 1/2 hours into Evita "apsal pompuan ni tak mati mati ah? Dah berjam jam dia menyanyi. Tapi tak mati- mati."

    Thanks for putting this up!

  23. Condolences on the " last Airbender" episode. Just reading it was horrible. Yet another accolade for M. Night. Dating Deal Breaker.

  24. To be fair, Wai, I too judge people by their reception to movies I like (or don't like). I share your sentiments about Twihards and people with rude cinema etiquette. So even if you were being utterly serious, which in tone you weren't, I'd fully agree.

    Thing is, and I'm sure you know this already: While their reception to certain films does tell me something about a person's character, I always find myself pleasantly surprised by some other criteria of theirs, unrelated to their obsessive will-die love of Edward Cullen and his sparkly face.

    So in response to Edmund's question via tweet: Nah, this article isn't offensive. Then again, having read the Guardian for a few years now, I'm relatively impervious to written snark.

    P.S:- I judge people by how well they take to Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Also, if they can look past the pretty leads and detect the sadistic overtones in Splendor in the Grass.

  25. Hi Jo-Lene. Wow, so much anger. While I will not apologize for what I wrote (yes, it WAS meant to be in jest), I am sorry you took the entire piece in the worst way possible. You are of course entitled to your opinion, as this site is all about that.

    But it sounds like you missed my point that while there were a number of dates that weren't ideal, I did also meet some wonderful, intelligent women whose opinions i value and personalities I respect. You must have mistaken me for some chauvinistic, misogynist alpha male. I'm not that guy. I'm the other guy. The guy who genuinely loves women, but has come across a few that were simply rude/self-centred/weird. Yes, women like that DO exist in the dating game, and to take me to task for calling them out on it in a light-hearted manner is a little extreme, methinks.

    Anyway, thanks for writing.

  26. Having written quite a few not to be taken seriously posts myself and always seeing myself as a woman who can take a joke and even crack a few about women and everyone else… I still find this entire piece reads like watching a denigrating comedy flop.

    Writing a disclaimer that an article is not to be taken seriously does not remove the denigrating nature of its content – it only works to serve a purpose of pointing out that any denigrating views or remarks are meant to be read with elements of sarcasm / parody / mockery / spoof

    If I wrote a light hearted article about how smelly migrant workers stinking of day old curry, sound retarded and incomprehensible with their Bangla and Paki accents and should only be toilet cleaners and not handle any item that will end up on my body – disclaimer doesn't make it any less racist or denigrating. Unless of course I cleverly set it up with absurdity and cultural references so that readers know its meant to mock such bigotry – but I don't see it here. Did I miss it completely and should get a funny bone graft?

    I know LoyarBurok is diversifying its content and strive to be inclusive – and it seems to have truly surpassed it's dedication to free speech and being a platform for anyone and everyone with any damn thing to say.

    Oh… I thought the "Let's Get Together" category is meant for matters related to Freedom of Association… perhaps these days it is meant to be read as "freedom to go on dates then write a review of the 'chicks'." Please inform the FC judges.

    1. Yeah this writer is a creep. Trying to deflect his creepiness to women is such a pitiful attitude to have.
      That is why not even one girl can tahan him. They ALL left him. Notice the last clever and well thought girl also left him!
      You go to a movie to enjoy the story. Not to judge a woman. ITs the other way round. You only ask a girl out on a movie date if you want to feel her in the dark. There is something about the cold air conditioning that permits some excuse to fondle and pet. Taking a girl you are not hot for to a movie is such a waste of his and her time..
      She expect the man to make a move instead she is left alone..weeii might as watch videos at home.

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