Cupid or stupid? Far from its roots in the Feast of Saint Valentinius or the art of courtly love, Feb. 14 has turned from being a day of celebrating romance to a battle between two opposing forces: lovers and cynics. Essentially, those who are anti-Valentine’s Day embrace this ideology for two possible reasons: those who are bitter and resentful over a bad relationship or romance in general and those who are angered that a holiday once meant to celebrate love is now being used as a capitalist ploy by card, flower and candy companies. Many fall into both categories. In the past, being anti-Valentine’s Day was a relatively simple thing: people would wear all black on Feb. 14 and don homemade t-shirts covered with anti-Valentine slogans.
Cafepress.com, a Web site through which its members submit designs to be printed on blank merchandise and then sold to browsers through the site, is running their second-annual “Valentine’s Day: the holiday you love..to hate” contest, complete with “Love it!” and “Hate it!” hotlinks on the front page to direct their customer’s shopping to their preferred ideology. While some of the purchaseable phrases were quite humorous (my personal favorite being “Cupid works for the IRS: part of another government scheme to take our money!”), most of them are redundant images of broken and mutilated hearts, conversation hearts with anti-Valentine’s phrases on them and “Be my Anti-Valentine.”
But perhaps there is need for some examples that are closer to the hearts of almost every college student: Facebook, Google and parties. The anti-Valentine phenomenon has taken over the Internet, and these high traffic Web sites are no different. Searching for “Valentine” on Facebook naturally breaks the 500 result limit, but scrolling through the displayed results reveals that many of these groups are either “Be My Valentine” or “Screw Valentine’s Day.” Refining the search to “anti-Valentine” brings up 38 groups and over 100 events scheduled anywhere between Feb. 10 and 15.
Anti-Valentine’s Day parties are a way that anti-V-dayers celebrate the holiday they love to hate. Food is served on skewers and broken heart cookies are eaten for dessert, sad movies with an anti-love theme are shown and music that is the antithesis of the typical love song is played. “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band is an anti-Valentine’s day staple (though perhaps the theme of “Centerfold” by the same band would be a better explanation of their attitude towards romance).
Googling “Anti Valentine’s Day” brings up a whopping 2.6 million results. This is not a recommended action for those who are offended by stuffed animals being mutilated by hatchets, as many of these Web masters are bitter singles who have a bone to pick with St. Valentine and cover their Web pages (almost always a black background) with typical romantic images given a morbid twist. Adding “party” on the end of the search brings up thousands of pages with ideas and recipes for anti-Valentine’s parties, as well as preplanned events inviting lonely singles to come and share their bitter feelings about ex-es while having a good time.
It seems strange that a group based off of the complaint that Valentine’s Day has become too commercialized would in turn take to the free market with their own set of cards, candies and apparel. After all, capitalist greed is what they claim ruined Valentine’s Day in the first place; the holiday is the second largest source of income for greeting card companies (the first being Christmas).
Perhaps even more disheartening, some of the flash animations on the anti-V-day greeting cards involve displays of hostility and even open cartoon violence against happy couples. It’s one thing to be bitter towards a holiday in one’s own mind, but to wish ill on other people just because of a bitter memory or a cynicism towards candy hearts? The spawn of this kind of negative propaganda takes V-day hating to a new level, and not a positive one.
So regardless of whether you associate Feb. 14 with ‘cupid’ or ‘stupid’, have a happy, crappy, or just delightfully miserable Valentine’s Day.
Jane Mahoney is a first-year undergraduate student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She may be contacted through the Op-ed section at QuadOpEd@wcupa.edu.