The Dating Project Aims to Redefine “Hookup Culture”

by Kerry Torpey on April 19, 2018

Arts & Entertainment

A promotional poster for the new documentary film, The Dating Project.

by Catherine Goldberg ’20

A&E Staff

The “hookup culture” on college campuses today is the social norm, but no one seems to talk about it. At Boston College, Professor Kerry Cronin teaches a philosophy course in which she gives students extra credit to go on “traditional dates” to recover the “lost art” of dating. Her philosophy class stoked a nationwide movement, and writer and producer Megan Harrington teamed up with Cronin and a group of five single people in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago to release a new documentary The Dating Project. 

The film was shown for one night on April 17 at various theaters across the nation and many theology, philosophy, and DWC professors at Providence College encouraged a number of students to go. Ultimately, the film is about discovering what it is like to be a young person amidst our current culture, and discovering our own self-worth when pursuing relationships. The film shows snippets of her philosophy course, in which she teaches on the different levels of dating. 

She requires her students to ask the person they are pursuing out on a date face-to-face. She lays down rules for them, such as “if you ask, you pay!” By engaging with her students in a humorous and non-judgmental way, she is able to truly understand the problems of the culture. 

When she notices that her students are surprised that they need to talk to a person face-to-face, she questions, “So, to talk one-on-one with someone in person is more difficult than having sex with someone you don’t know in the dark?” When the majority of students nod in agreement with red faces and embarrassed smiles, the contradiction of the “hookup culture” truly shines through. As her students attentively take notes and get excited to take on the project, it is obvious that many young people are lost when it comes to developing authentic relationships in this generation.

The documentary is especially appealing to the PC community, as college students are susceptible to the hookup culture that is so similar to that of Cronin’s workplace, Boston College. The way people seek and find love in this day and age has changed radically. The “hookup culture” has started trends of just hanging out, texting, engaging on social media, and having one night stand. 

Because of this, dating has become practically outdated. Ultimately, what the film and Cronin are trying to do is start a movement to encourage students, and all people, to overcome the hookup culture and make beautifully fulfilling relationships. 

In fact, a number of her students have gotten married after taking her course, just by the simple advice of going on a “traditional date.” Perhaps it is a project that seems simple on paper, but in reality it is daunting for college students. Pauline Media Reviews says the film “has the potential to create a cultural avalanche!” So get out there and #DateDifferently!