The Thrill of Finding Your Imperfect Match:
Queer Algorithms, Queer Futures, and the Reality Dating Program
October 25, 5pm, Morey Hall 321, University of Rochester
This talk explores the interconnections between smartphone dating apps and reality dating programs, focusing both on the influence of dating programs on expectations of “compatibility” that would later emerge on smartphone apps as well as on the influence of algorithmic culture on the format of the dating program. Mapping a genealogy of dating programs that engage both in queer subtext and in proto-algorithmic conceptions of compatibility, I turn to the eighth season of MTV’s Are You The One (2018), which made headlines for having an entirely bisexual or sexually-fluid cast. Noting the synergies as well as the gaps between algorithmic culture and reality formatting, I interrogate how smartphone algorithms influence the perception and normalization of non-traditional forms of queer sexuality, similar to how these algorithms have come to govern everyday life. In diagramming the spectatorial relations at play between the smartphone and the television, I ask how we can truly “trust the process” and find “true love” simultaneously, on- or off-screen.
Hunter Hargraves is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts at California State University, Fullerton. His research traverses the intersection of spectatorial affect and popular television cultures and can be found in journals such as Camera Obscura, Television & New Media, and the Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. His first book, Uncomfortable Television, will be published by Duke in February 2023.