If there is an app on which people can follow each other and be followed in return, there needs to be a direct messaging feature. Not just for ease of communication — which is the “social” aspect of the media in the first place — but for the very reason that the forces of nature put us here on this earth to begin with: to have sex with people.
Most apps inherently understand this. Obviously there are direct messages on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. But even lesser apps have implemented ways for users to talk to each other. If you go absolutely gaga for someone’s review of the chicken piccata at the place down the street from you, you can message them on Yelp. Maybe that message turns into texting, which turns into a friendship, and years down the line you look into each other’s eyes and realize that they were your person all along. None of that would happen without the power of a direct message.
This is all to say it is a crime that Letterboxd, the site on which users can log and review every movie they watch, does not have DMs. People who feel the need to log every movie they watch deserve love – or to at least get railed – just as much as anyone else [Ed note: They definitely don’t]. Currently, there is no way for people who own A24 merch to make a connection by sliding into someone’s DMs and telling them that their one-line review of Hereditary (“This is just Ordinary People with a demon.”) was very LOL.
Jurassic Park taught me, a cinephile, that life finds a way. Most Letterboxd accounts link to users’ Twitter accounts, and so if you have a crush on someone on the platform, you could just DM them on Twitter. But that is just too many steps, giving the sender too much time to think about whether or not they should pull the trigger. A good DM slide is impulsive, and if you need to leave the app in order to do it, your flirty DM turns into something you might mull over too much, only to ultimately decide that it’s just not worth the risk.
When asked via email whether or not Letterboxd would ever consider direct messaging, Editor-in-Chief Gemma Gracewood said, “We won’t be adding a DM feature.”
Gracewood added that they will be developing features that “allow for more collaboration between members, which will make things more social in various ways.” More social, sure, but more sexual? Unclear.
Remember when you could send DMs on Spotify? You’d send the object of your affection a flirty song and say that it reminded you of them. I was devastated when Spotify removed the feature; I lost my number one flirting technique and had to learn how to be fake-casual about touching someone’s arm at just the right moment.
For the film dorks among us who have never quite figured out how to start making moves on a crush, especially an internet one, DMs on Letterboxd would be a godsend. Imagine the possibilities. Here are some hypotheticals:
- Your crush posts a list of movies called “Is It A Bromance or Are They Actually In Love.” You could DM them and say, “This is so great, but you forgot Mikey and Nicky!” A conversation about how Elaine May is always overlooked turns into exchanging numbers turns into grabbing drinks turns into true love.
- They log Beau Travail, giving it four and a half stars. You could message and banter about where that last half-star is. Before you know it, you’re on their couch, talking about how you both believe Claire Denis should be a household name.
- Someone reviews Hillbilly Elegy months after it is released, giving it three stars and saying that it’s not actually as bad as everyone says it is, adding that Amy Adams is doing her best. Your crush comments on that post with a simple “C’mon, man.” You can DM them and say, “That guy is nuts, right?” Nothing brings two people together like someone else being stupid.
I know that as a culture we are exhausted by dating apps, and sites like FarmersOnly that have a niche audience are more often the butt of jokes than not. But I think Letterboxd has what the marketing biz calls a “white space opportunity.” Their community (film nerds) has a need that is not being met (a safe space to openly want to boink each other).
The people who speak the loudest about Letterboxd are straight men, so you might think that the explicitly sexual incorporation of DMs would fall on deaf ears. However, Gracewood noted that while Letterboxd does not collect data on the gender of its users, based on the self-selected pronoun option some users put on their profile, the site is currently 49.7 percent male, 48.4 percent female, and 1.9 percent non-binary.
For the women who don’t want perverts talking to them about The Red Shoes, in my conception of this idea the DMs would function similarly to Twitter’s, where you can tailor your settings to keep weirdos out.
DMs would be huge for Letterboxd. The company could just add it to the already existing paid tier and watch the dough roll in. People love sex, companies love cash. The Letterboxd CEO would be in his office screaming “Show me the money!!!” You know, like in Jerry Maguire.