On Wednesday, dating app Match became the latest brand to officially declare covid “over” with its “Get Back to Love” video featuring out-of-work wedding singers begging people to start boning again.
At the beginning of the pandemic, nearly every brand to which consumers had offhandedly given an email address began offering empty messages of condolence, so it stands to reason that now, on the day cities like New York and Los Angeles declare they are officially open for business, those businesses would want to send a message that horny fun is available and supplies are for sale. But today is also the day that America has surpassed 600,000 covid-19 deaths in a pandemic that is still ongoing, even if it is waning.
“It’s time you started getting over your ex,” a wedding singer admonishes at the beginning of Match’s ode to boning with the intent to marry. “Cause you’re double vaxxed, but you’re still single AF,” the line concludes, suggesting that it is now time to worry about other shit. Match is far from alone in this cheerful, celebratory messaging, declaring our 15 months of collective mourning period finished, which labors under the odd assumption that grief can be turned on and off like a faucet and resolved with a new relationship or perhaps a can of Coors. Marketing materials for the beer brand’s latest campaign declare that “The past year has been filled with way too many ‘hold my beer’ moments–a toilet paper shortage, lockdowns and murder hornets. Each seems to out-do the last… But we’re feeling optimistic about summer ‘21 and Coors wants people to slow down and get back to chilling.”
In both cases the message, which reduces the covid-19 pandemic to an inconvenience, is that “real life,” is weddings, beer, and other consumer products, not the fact that America has recently witnessed a real-time collective breakdown of our economic and political institutions, leaving Americans jobless and houseless while we watched a deadly insurrection on our TVs.
It’s also highly unlikely that anyone has just realized how lonely they were over the course of the pandemic. As the Drum reports, 83 percent of singles tried online dating during the pandemic, and dating app Hinge saw its downloads increase 63 percent in 2020 over 2019. And, of course, there was no decline in alcohol sales, with CNN reporting soaring beer sales in April 2020.
If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that corporations will be fine, while people will not. These aren’t desperate brands begging customers to come back, as the Match ad seems to imply, these are brands desperately telling their audiences to go back to 2019 mindsets—wedding planning or “chilling”—to make their jobs, offering banal products to people mostly positively indifferent to their attempts to sell those bland products, as easy as they were two years ago.
As the screeds on pandemic hobbies and lessons learned now move toward think pieces about how miserable it is to see all our friends having fun without us on Instagram again, the collective cultural amnesia around what just happened will inevitably set in, both for the fact the past must soften in order to be bearable but also because it is more convenient for anyone trying to sell a good time to tell audiences that it’s possible they were never that sad in the first place.
“Now we don’t get paid,” Match’s singers chide, “If no love songs are played. We’re totally screwed, till you start getting laid.” The line seems much more honest than most marketing content. It’s not wedding singers who are likely screwed by an audience that doesn’t want to hear this bullshit right now. In order to get the old cogs mindlessly turning again, advertisers have to convince us that we’re totally in the mood to party.