‘How do two people establish intimacy on the Internet? Can you truly fall in love with someone you’ve never met? And is that love real? What do digital intimacy and love in the 21st century look like? Is this film about sexting?!
xoxosms is a documentary about the TRUE love story of Gus and Jiyun — a home schooled 20-year-old from a religious family in small-town Illinois and a 19-year-old Korea-born New York City art student — who met nearly a year ago in possibly the only place two people so different might ever find each other: The Internet. Over the past 18 months, they have built an intensely intimate world via Skype, AIM and iChat. They are each other’s very first loves, and through the internet, they have established a connection that feels as real as if they were right there beside each other.’
This project caught my eye. I saw it on Melissa’s tumblr. I have the biggest crush on Melissa Gira. She is my Mae West my Freda Kahlo my something something something. If it wasn’t for her inspiration, I wouldn’t have done some of the creative things I have done.
It is a film about a couple who met via the Internet. Lots of people do these days. The project looks interesting as it will mix documentary footage with text from the young lovers’ email/skype/msn conversations, and various technologies to create a record of their story.
Ever since I discovered the internet I saw its potential for that fucking romance. Desire is all about distance, and the internet creates a distance and a sense of intimacy simultaneously. It is a powerful drug for a romantic like me.
But like all true romantics I am also a cynic. I hate that fucking romance. I think it lies to us about how relationships are. I think it gives us false promises. I think , when I am being particularly pretentious, that it reifies heteronormative structures. I think that fucking romance is full of shit.
So in a way this film is not quite such an exciting prospect as it might have been for me. Two people meet online, fall in love, share their innermost secrets, and then meet in real life, and then… live happily ever after? Blah blah blah. Happy couples are not romantic they are pragmatic. The true romantic has no respect for happiness, or pragmatism.
That fucking romance is fucking miserable.
Once I went all the way to Belgium to meet a man from the Internet. He had heard me orgasm over the telephone. We had spoken French together. But as soon as I got off the train, even before I saw him at the barrier, I knew it was a disaster. I spent the next few hours trying to explain in that foggy, grey city, why I had to get away from him. Now. That night I slept alone in a tacky 70s style hotel that had mirrored ceilings. I looked up at my reflection and told her what a stupid bitch she was. For what? For believing the lie? For daring to hope that this time it might be different? For investing something of myself in that cad, that fucking romance.
The trailer for this film has a moment where the couple are finally united in ‘RL’. They are sat on a sofa and the woman is snuggled up to the man, looking adoringly into his eyes, maybe she has just picked some food out of his beard. I don’t know it is pretty intense. I saw that shot and I felt a slight nausea in my stomach. You know that point where desire tips over the edge into loss and despair. That. I yearned for a sofa, anywhere, a man to snuggle up to, anyone, a physical touch to make up for all this distant disembodied typing. The internet, for all its hyper-technological advances, for all its sophisticated imagery, for all its pictures of men pulling themselves off. My internet is fuelled by words.
But words don’t hold me at night.
That fucking romance tells me that they do.
That. Fucking. Romance.
There is a film called ‘Confidences Trop Intimes’ or ‘Intimate Strangers’ it is all about this. But it doesn’t mention the internet once. Because desire and distance is older than that, more universal. The film is also full of that fucking romance. But it appeals to my more cynical side as well. I bought it for someone. But I don’t want to ask him how to send it to him because that would involve tipping myself over the edge, moving from the romantic, comforting potential of the virtual into the grey, foggy city of the real. Walking the streets of loss and despair. I know myself by now. And I know that fucking romance never works for me.
Oh, and I also know I can’t blame it all on Joni. But I don’t think I ever recovered from hearing this, aged sixteen, before I had ever even really been in love, before I knew what the words of her cynical, romantic, heartbroken song meant. I was drawn to the romance of giving up on romance, before I had even bought into its ‘pretty lies’.
‘The last time I saw Richard was in Detroit in ’68/ and he told me ‘all romantics meet the same fate someday: cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe’./’ You laugh’, he said, ‘you think you’re immune-go look at your eyes they’re full of moon./ You like roses, and kisses and pretty men to tell you all those pretty lies’.