Tinder appears to be tired of being “the hook-up app”. It seems to be looking for real love from its users. Or perhaps it’s just feeling the squeeze from all of its ambitious competitors. At the beginning of February, Tinder parent company, Match Group, announced plans to expand its filtering capabilities as Bumble had done a few months previously, and promised other product updates such as new social engagement features and the international launch of its interactive in-app experience, Swipe Night.
In addition, Tinder will soon add new social engagement features, which the company describes as a way for users “to express themselves and show their interests”. These include prompts such as “a life goal of mine is…”, “a social cause I care about is…,” “biggest risk I’ve ever taken is…”, “best travel story…”, “believe it or not I…”.
For Black History Month in the US, Tinder has also commissioned Canadian film and music video director and producer, Director X (Julien Christian Lutz), to make a film, Black Love Is, a montage of personal reflections that explore what love and relationship means to black people and how being black influences their understanding and expression of love.
Tinder explained in its blog, “Black love is a private club, not because it’s pretentious or exclusive, but because those who are in it know what it’s really like to be in their partner’s shoes. They know what it’s like to wake up every day and have to make themselves presentable enough to defy stereotypes while remaining authentic to their culture. To have to work twice as hard only to get half as far. And what to expect at every family gathering…
… Black love is comfort. For many, black love is home. It’s your favourite meal when you’re hungry, the cool side of the pillow on a warm night, and rediscovering a song you haven’t heard in years. And while all of this sounds wholesome and pure, don’t get it twisted. Black love is the party, a strong drink after a long week, and the first kiss with someone you’ve been crushing on for a long time. To put it simply (and in Austyn’s words), “black love feels like fireworks.”
And like all fireworks shows, you never want it to end.”
Austyn Rich is a Los Angeles-based dancer and choreographer and one of the people featured in the film.
Director X commented, “When I zoom out on culture and think about representation in media, as a director I’m especially interested in what’s not there. Black History Month is both a time to reflect on where we’ve come from, honour our culture and ancestors, and cultivate pride in the contributions we have made against all odds. But I also try to see it as a time to imagine the histories we are creating now. What are the most radical ways to create a present that will cultivate new, hopeful, vibrant histories?
“Growing up in Toronto in a West Indian home, Black History Month took on more meaning the older I got,” he continued, “and the more I travelled outside of my community. It’s about that common thread that might connect you to another person—it could be a book or a picture. For me it’s that every West Indian home has at least one piece of African sculpture and if you grew up in one, you can call up that shared visual memory.
“Making this film, casting and speaking with real people about what Black Love means to them, we found those touchpoints for everyone. Personal, intimate reflections on how being black twists together with our understanding of love itself – connections to home, to family, to sexuality and to how we present to each other and the world. As these couples and individuals opened up, it was beautiful to see how varied and nuanced the black community really is – how our expressions of love are tinted through our culture. It is exciting to know that these stories, with all their vulnerability and tenderness, will be seen far and wide. They represent a present I am proud to live in.”