Passive-Aggressive Valentine's Day Prank Separates Couples In Shanghai

Apparently pranks work a little differently in China, and so do movie theaters. These two things have combined to create an obstacle for couples looking to see Beijing Love Story at one popular Xintiandi movie theater.

Shanghai Morning Post reports (via Yahoo) that a group of enterprising singles have essentially hijacked the Valentine's Day screenings of the aforementioned romantic drama by pre-ordering tickets for every odd numbered seat in the theater. Here in the US, it's rare that movie theaters actually issue seat assignments for a movie theater ticket, but the organizers of this Chinese prank are hopeful this will help single people without dates find love on Valentine's Day. This stunt aims to turn these select screenings into "singles parties," and they have gotten a lot of attention in Chinese online press. Details of this screening are being spread on social networking sites and apps like Wechat. Singles are encouraged to turn up in the hopes of meeting someone on Valentine's Day, because no pressure.

But where does the prank part come in? Well, by buying only the odd-numbered seats, the people behind these so-called parties are basically offering a "screw you" to couples who now can't sit together. It seems riling those in a relationship is actually part of the point. The prank organizer--who is going by the initials UP--(as in "Up yours, lovers?")--has a special message for couples whose Valentine's Day plans have been complicated by his efforts:

"Want to see a movie on Valentine's Day? Sorry, you'll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Give us singles a chance."

I totally understand that Valentine's Day can suck when you're single and don't want to be. When you're feeling lonely, couples cuddling and getting gooey over each other in front of you can feel like a special brand of hell. But this is at best a one-sided war. UP's excuse that he came up with this plan after he and his last girlfriend broke up seems to confirm the mean-spirited nature of this scheme. He says he wanted to come up with something fun for singles to do, but by my count this is a terrible concept.

For one thing, it's sitting next to a stranger on Valentine's Day in a romantic movie. In what way does that sound anything less than stressful and depressing? The stakes are too high! Plus, it's not like a party where if you get stuck with a weirdo you can just excuse yourself and talk to someone else without an embarrassingly awkward social situation. How much fun would it be to sit next to someone and then discover they have terrible breath, or an obnoxious laugh, or that they believe talking through the movie is totally acceptable? Wouldn't this "meet other singles scenario" make you feel a little trapped to stick it out for the 122-minute runningtime? And what's the best-case scenario here? Someone nice sits next to you and sits quietly for two hours?...Fun? Of course, it's possible something got lost in translation.

Kristy Puchko

Staff writer at CinemaBlend.