There were plans to come back after a hiatus, once life calmed down. I was going to write one analysis per month, and even had a whole list of content, starting with Midsommar (2019). I had some good stuff planned. But life kept piling up, and, well, introspection is a hell of a thing. Truth is, my opinions are a dime a dozen, and my work isn’t stellar; I just happen to pick decent words that go together. You can write something you think is great, but it needs an audience with which to resonate. So I’m getting off the merry-go-round. It’s not for me anymore.
My parting advice, dear reader: in a world of top ten lists, be an analysis.
I started this site in April 2015. In that time, a lot of life has happened. I’ve made some extraordinary friends. Personally, I managed put myself back together and keep moving after various setbacks. I came out of my shell and shared some pieces of myself I normally would have kept quiet. I’ve voiced some strong opinions. I contributed to one book and was asked to edit another. It’s been a pretty wild ride for just under four years.
The thing is, I need a break. I went from doing two analyses, a recommendation and a short film a week to one analysis, one recommendation and a short every week. Some time went by, and that became just one analysis and a recommendation as I started writing for other people. I contributed to multiple sites, I was really tired, I was always busy, and I really loved what I was doing. But I wasn’t getting paid for those contributions, and so I made the decision to cut back on writing for other sites (experiences that left me frustrated beyond measure). I’ve never faulted anyone at this site for stepping back, as I don’t make the kind of money that allows for a check, and I tried to be conscious of the whole “I can pay you in exposure” approach – I think that’s unhealthy, if I’m being completely blunt (I’ve received some pretty gross “offers” of work with that logic that would boggle the mind). And so I made it clear to our contributors that this is a hobby, not a career, and therefore your life comes first at all times. This site has always been about me posting analysis and hoping that it helps someone feel less alone. I wanted to make others feel less alone because I know how much it hurts to feel that way. It’s putting your arm around someone else going through some stuff and saying, “It’s okay. I see you.” It’s empathy in the midst of darkness. It’s an odd beast for certain: it’s hard to keep up that level of hopefulness and not have the well run dry. One must be careful with that – as a friend once told me, if there’s nothing left in your cup, you can’t pour and share with anyone else. My cup’s been low lately, I’m afraid. I must tend to that, and the decision to step back has helped lift a weight.
Recently, life has taken some turns. Without going into too much detail, I’m going to have my hands full in the next year with some personal pieces coming into place. It’s exciting, and all will be revealed in good time. Leading up to that, I need some time to focus and breathe – to get back to my center. Rediscover the things that bring me joy. Analysis isn’t bringing me much joy at the moment. I’m good at analysis, but I don’t want to be good – I want to be happy. Right now, stepping back is going to make me happy. I have a few creative ideas in my head right now waiting to be born, and I want to give that world some love – after all, it’s kept me company; I’m quite excited for you to meet the people I’ve been fostering in my mind. Once that’s sorted, I can get back to being the same foul-mouthed delight you’ve come to expect.
This isn’t goodbye. I’ll be back – I’m just not sure when, and in what capacity. Thank you for joining me and letting me entertain you for a little bit. I’m going to go work on me. Bis zum nachsten mal, meinen Damen und Herren.
Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Jennifer Aniston. I’ve spoken previously about my dislike of women deemed America’s Sweetheart (never, ever trust something with that many teeth). I was planning on avoiding Dumplin (2018) like the plague due to her association, but then I started hearing really, really good reviews. People who knew of my dislike urged me to give it a chance, and I’m so glad I set my own bullshit aside and did. It’s about an overweight teen named Willowdean Dixon (Danielle Macdonald) who decides to enter a beauty pageant. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
#1 – The source
This film comes to us from the book of the same name by Julie Murphy. Murphy wrote the book in 2015, which received high marks from critics and readers alike for her approach to a tried-and-true trope. Rather than try to shed weight to conform to beauty queen standards, Willowdean learns instead to love who she is and accept that she deserves love in return. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth reading. Read more books, people.
#2 – What happens to
I am so happy that the filmmakers covered this aspect of life after a youth spent in pageantry. Willowdean’s mother, Rosie (Aniston), was a teenage beauty queen. She’s now employed by a nursing home and spends much of her spare time either trying to make ends meet or reliving the glory days of her pageant years. There’s this perception that beauty queens marry rich and live their days out as kept wives, because society likes us to believe that the thin and pretty get those happy endings. Sometimes, though, they wind up as single mothers wiping someone else’s ass. And that’s important to see, because you have to be prepared to earn your keep. Pretty doesn’t always pay the bills.
#3 – Best friends
Okay, so Macdonald and Odeya Rush play best friends Willowdean and Ellen. The girls bond over their love of Dolly Parton (who the fuck WOULDN’T?!), and stay close into their teenage years. Witnessing two friends who care for each other, fight occasionally, and bring out the best in one another is a welcome change from how girls get portrayed in film under most circumstances. There’s no cyberbullying or back-stabbing or name-calling. No one is plotting to steal the other’s man (a concept I think is pure bullshit, but that’s a rant for another day). I think this portrait is incredibly important because it models a healthy relationship between friends. It’s not all about cutting each other down and trying to get the guy; sometimes, it’s about someone who just gets you.
#4 – This cast
Fuck me this cast is magic. I found myself rooting for so many people, and not once were they competing with each other. Aniston is great as Rosie, making an easily one-note character into a complex and sympathetic human being. Macdonald is superb as a girl learning how to love herself and cope with the loss of an aunt who truly wanted to show her that she was loved; I lost my beloved grandmother a year ago and can attest to how much it sucks to have someone who always believed in you go – trust me when I say that Macdonald gets this right. Then there’s Rush, who is making quite the name for herself in supporting, age-appropriate roles (I like you, Odeya – don’t become America’s Sweetheart, though). Harold Perrineau is a scene-stealer as drag queen/mentor Lee, and damned if his performance doesn’t make me want to see him in more stuff. The real prize, though, goes to Maddie Baillio, who plays ultra-sweet and optimistic Millie. Baillio makes Millie into someone for which we’d fight. I want Millie to win in every aspect of life with each fiber of my being. Millie for life, peeps.
#5 – Loving yourself
Dumplin has a love story aspect, but that’s not the main draw. Sure, there’s a dishy guy involved, but that’s not the huge love story. The biggest love story is Willowdean learning to love herself and see herself as someone who deserves love too, which is not a tiny feat. So often, we look in a mirror and see the worst parts of ourselves: the extra pounds, the large pores, the beard that won’t grow in uniformly, the couple of inches taller we wish we were, the muscles that refuse to develop. We often use those pieces to tell ourselves that we don’t deserve to have certain people attracted to us, and that our lives can’t be any better because of some supposed attractiveness structure that limits us to a defined lane. This film tells us it’s okay to be who you are; it’s okay to love yourself, and it’s okay when that kind of love presents itself to you too. I think that’s a message more people need to hear.
I’ve heard some guys try to explain that the worst thing that can happen on a date is getting stuck in poor conversation for the price of two meals without the hope of sex at the end. The overwhelming response has been to relay a woman’s version of a bad date: getting raped and murdered. The situation can easily turn into a catch-22: it’s easy to be killed in your own home if you invite someone back; if you go to their place, they might have a murder dungeon; have a friend present and you’re weird; be by yourself and you’re open to creepy pressuring and a host of other issues. Personally, I’d be happy being out $75 (or above – let’s not forget how fucking expensive dating can be) if it means I’m not violated or killed, but some individuals have trouble wrapping their heads around the idea that a female perspective means that it’s not about the money – sometimes, our worst fear is getting out of modern dating alive and intact. That type of thinking right there is precisely why the “New Year’s Eve” segment of the anthology film Holidays (2016) is so impactful: it manages to articulate the fear by placing the masculine character into first the predator role, then into that of the victim.
Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer, the segment first opens on Reggie (Andrew Bowen) holding Mandy (Megan Duffy) hostage. Mandy is bound to a chair and gagged. Reggie has put together a photo album of her on major holidays, manufacturing memories to create the perfect relationship – which he accuses her of ruining, presumably because she’s terrified and crying in each image. He rails at her, “I thought that when you got to know me, when you saw the real me, that you’d… ah, nevermind. Tonight at midnight, I want to kiss someone who makes me feel like I can take the tape off their lips.” He finishes off this rant by shooting her in the head (another fear of ours for when a relationship ends, which plays out in the news far too often). Later, ol’ Reg reveals to new date Jean (Lorenza Izzo) that he met Mandy on a dating app, but she as only an 84% match. Jean is a 96% match for him, which seems pretty promising on paper. Jean laments, “Most guys I date online just want to hook up. One and done.” Their date doesn’t appear to go well: the banter is awkward and he’s far less attractive than she is. He demands to see her teeth at one point, remarking, “You are so much hotter than she was. I mean, prettier.” Reggie doesn’t really seek to get to know Jean’s personality, sizing her up by the dating site numbers and her physical appearance. Internally, the audience is screaming, “Jean, YOU IN DANGER GIRL!” ala Ghost. At the very least, Jean has a creep on her hands; from what we’ve already seen, we know that he’s planning to kill her, too.
The amazing part comes when Reggie sees the contents of Jean’s bathroom and realizes that she kills and dismembers her dates. He’s horrified and caught off guard, spilling the chloroform he had on hand to knock her out, then vomiting at the sight of the decomposing bodies wrapped in plastic in her bathtub (nice touch there, Jean – Marie Kondo that shit). Jean clearly has the upper hand as she attacks him with an axe, then cleaves off one foot. Reggie reaches for his gun, but – as earlier in the segment – he didn’t load it properly, giving Jean enough time to sink her axe into his head. Strangely, this ending is happy: we witness a serial killer getting his comeuppance at the hands of someone who was way more on top of her game. Jean’s happy ending isn’t a kiss with a fellow psychopath; it’s her dancing with her axe, her long hair flowing romantically as she hugs it to her chest.
The fact that this is the happy ending both tickles and terrifies the soul. On one hand, Jean escaped certain death and gave a murderous cretin his just desserts; on the other hand, this date is so many nightmares on so many levels. Complete blunt disclosure: the dating world is rough – there’s constant rating systems for hotness, and any slight disagreement or so-called wrong answers to a potential date can bring on a torrent of verbal and cyber abuse. Every woman (some guys too) I know can tell you about a potential or actual date that freaked out on her with a flood of abuse that ended in either her being told she was ugly/unfuckable or threats of physical violence, including rape and murder. So to see Reggie at first, that’s our worst fear: going out on a date, then getting knocked out, tortured and killed. That’s a very immediate fear for women; that’s our reality, and it throws into contrast how much we both trust and distrust systems that are supposed to help us find love and keep us safe at the same time. We watch knowing that Reggie is going to try something on her after sizing her up and treating her not as a person, but as a match on a piece of paper for his own wants. When we see Jean with her axe though… there’s something magic there. He’s not only getting what he has coming to him – he’s getting outpaced by someone who is frankly better at the game than he is. Jean is a better predator: she’s physically attractive, she can eat (for reals, I want to try to chicken fingers she’s talking about in the diner), she moves faster, and she’s an accurate shot with that axe. Her weapon actually works, which is a damn metaphor if I ever saw one. Jean is the better hunter and executioner. She outwits the guy we’re all afraid of encountering with little effort – even when he throws a piece of broken sink at her, she recovers quickly; the entire fight scene between the pair is under five minutes in total. And that’s hopeful to us ladies out there, because it’s how we deal with the Boogeyman. Reggie is every worst fear about a date: someone who won’t see us as a person, who will physically hurt or even kill us. Jean is thinning that portion of the herd right out, making the world safer for the rest of us. Someone who’s never had that Serial Killer Moment on a date – who’s never had to go through the fear of letting a bartender know you’re worried, who’s never had to frantically call someone to come “bump” into them, who’s never lived the fear of driving home and being followed, who doesn’t have to stock their purse with self-defense items, just in case – watches this segment and experiences a rude awakening to a level of fear they don’t know how to process.
Some say that a better ending would have been for Reggie and
Jean to live happily, murderously ever after. That’s where I must disagree. I
think this segment ends perfectly. Jean is like the Tinder Avenger: always
waiting for that next message, always ready to take someone out, always willing
to level the playing field, always willing to add to her collection so that we
can sleep a little better. If you’re not used to that level of terror on your
dates, it’s a strange experience to witness; if you are, admit it – you cheered
This is it: the last week to get some analysis goodness until I come back from my break. Cue the music.
This week, we’re focusing on two different aspects of love. We’ll start first with the perils of modern dating in Holidays (2016) – particularly, the “New Year’s Eve” segment, featuring the Tinder match from Hell. We’ll then recommend some self-love in the form of Dumplin’ (2018), a delightful film you can’t help but like.
On Friday, I’ll have some things to say before the break. See you then.
Oh Peter Jackson, how I do love your early days. Given, of
late, he’s been obsessed with creating the longest fantasy epics out there, and
we’re a bit fatigued by that, but there was a point in time when he was more
content with the simple things in life, like buckets of fake blood. Hence we
have the good ol’ days of Braindead
(1992), also known as Dead Alive in
some other countries. It’s the hilarious story of Lionel (Timothy Balme), a
quiet man trying to balance life with a zombie mother and romance with the new
girl in town. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
#1 – Gallows humor
Jackson’s sense of humor is terrifically warped; truly, I
love the man when he lets those pieces of his personality fly. The jokes
contained in the film may strike some as being in poor taste, or a bit on the
dad-joke side, but that’s the fun of it: it’s out for a cheap laugh and doesn’t
really care if you cringe. The point is that you’re giggling. And giggle you
#2 – Gore effects
I don’t need realistic gore effects. In fact, sometimes it’s
better if it’s not realistic – you get reassured that the action isn’t real. Braindead certainly falls into the
category of non-realistic gore effects, and delightfully so. You know that this
isn’t real, so you can have fun rather than be scared. In fact, Jackson did a
lot of his early effects using whatever he had (stories abound of his parents
letting him use their oven to make prosthetics for his early work). As such, we
get pus that looks like custard, blood that looks like thick strawberry syrup,
and questionable chunks that are made to be hunks of flesh. Necessity really is
the mother of invention.
#3 – The mother from
Speaking of mothers, Lionel’s mom, Vera (Elizabeth Moody) is
the kind that you want to avoid like the plague. She’s played by Moody to peak
controlling perfection: she has to regulate conversation, spies on dates, and
can’t let her precious baby boy go even in death. Hats off to love interest
Paquita (Diana Peñalver), who loves Lionel so much that she’s willing to put up
with his beyond domineering mother. Really, if Vera was your prospective
mother-in-law, you’d be hoping for something to kill her quickly.
#4 – The one liners
Remember how I said there were dad-joke level puns in this
film? Oh my babies, they are FANTASTIC. I’m so tempted to quote them right now
but I love you too much to spoil them. If you’re familiar with the film, you’re
already running through them in your head. Just do yourself a favor and watch
it before I spoil it. Really, if you tweet me, I will just quote it right back
#5 – You will never
look at a lawn mower the same again
Heh. This film got me banned from picking the movie by one friend who was obsessed with musicals and violently hated any type of horror film. The grand finale features a lawn mower and at least twelve buckets of fake blood. I watch this part and think, “Why can’t this be my work day?” Really, that’s the dream. My dream, anyway.
Braindead is a bit tough to find, but you can get most of it on YouTube if you don’t own it already.
After some breathing room from the film, we’re back to talk
about Suspiria (2018), a film which moves
in multiple layers (much to the chagrin of some). Our first foray into the film
saw us tackling notions of guilt and forgiveness. Our next one isn’t as
understanding, seeking to acknowledge something pretty difficult in the
feminist movement: the expectations of unwavering support of all things female versus
the questioning and evolutions brought about by continuous discussion and
thought. No relationship typifies this more than that of Madame Blanc (Tilda
Swinton) and the followers of Helena Markos.
At the start of the film, the audience witnesses a vote among the coven members for leadership of the coven. The vote is between long-standing leader Markos and Madame Blanc, with Markos emerging victorious. The name symbolism and plot work to establish and push and pull between the ways of the old and the new: Markos represents standard tradition, ritual and order – the very example of following the traditions of one’s elders blindly, with a façade of choice. Madame Blanc, on the other hand, questions the ritual designed to preserve Markos, and silently safeguards proposed vessel Susie (Dakota Johnson) – “blanc” means “white” in French, symbolizing both a fresh start and purity. Madame Blanc has Susie’s safety in mind, as well as purity in the name of truthfulness – it’s Blanc, after all, who senses a type of corruption within the dance company that causes her to second-guess Markos’s motives. When Markos attempts to kill her before Mother Suspiriorum enacts swift justice, all of Blanc’s dissent is seen by the audience as validated: she was correct to question Markos’s leadership because the woman was manipulating her way into power and perpetual life. It’s the nightmare situation of any dictator – she’s essentially found a way to keep on ruling while keeping her people happy enough not to question her.
The problem of conflicting female leaders and motivations can then be applied to clashes between women and different sections of feminism. At its core, feminism is the belief that women deserve equality. When sticking to that definition, everyone is on the same side. However, certain pieces of feminism bump up against one another, requiring additional thought; this is where splintering occurs within the movement. This ranges in everything from socioeconomic class differences to race to gender assigned at birth. The result is a splintering of a group that should have each other’s backs: white feminists should be learning and advocating for women of color; women who are less financially well-off should be able to count on their more well-heeled counterparts to trumpet their issues; trans women should have inclusion as well. However, there’s a problem I’ve noticed: this goes both ways. The problems of one group don’t go away just because the problems of another group are acknowledged, yet of late, there seems to be a competition and division. And once that happens, that’s when the opportunists come in to drive further wedges and question loyalties – after all, you don’t want to seem like the dreaded enemy to the cause, do you?
That is the big bad wolf of this film: once a little bit of power becomes available, the possessor does not wish to concede it, and begins pitting women against one another. Hence, factions arise, with the intention of “proving” why one side is all bad. In order to retain control, a figurehead creates a division – the focus then becomes demonstrating loyalty by any means necessary as opposed to the main focus of a woman finally obtaining a leadership position, working together to right some of the wrongs. That’s an incredibly dangerous tactic, because then nothing gets solved and the shit-stirrers continue playing semantic games to keep themselves on top. Markos literally carves out the souls of women to inhabit a new body, and nearly decapitates her competition – that’s someone who clearly is not invested in the cause, but in self-preservation. That’s the kind of person one needs to observe and carefully avoid.
This leaves us in an uncomfortable place: in the film, Mother Suspiriorum shows
up to deliver correction and oust the corrupt party; in real life, this does
not happen without a lot of intervention and teamwork. Where we go from here is
a matter of principle: do we take the side of dialogue and understanding, with
patience and empathy, or a place of termination with extreme prejudice? Either position
requires – demands – enough courage
to throw out the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
This week, Western New York got hit with the polar vortex that was making its way through. As a result, no one could really go outside safely and I’m all sorts of messed up. I had to remind myself that it was Sunday. I cannot be the only one.
This week marks the week before the hiatus. So we’re going for some balance: equal parts serious topic and fun recommendation. We’ll start out with a look at power in Suspiria (2018), concentrating on how gender roles can cause a division in what should be unity if it’s the wrong person coming into power. We’ll switch gears a little bit and recommend Braindead (1992), also known as Dead Alive and a personal favorite of mine. And now I just realized that my running theme for the week was gore. Awesome.
Some college students are back in the swing of things with the
spring semester kicking off. So we’re heading to college in solidarity. Okay,
maybe not the bad version that we see in Raw
(2016), a French-Belgian film about sisters Justine (Garance Marillier) and
Alexia (Ella Rumpf), who start to undergo changes after eating meat at college.
Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
#1 – Hazing amazement
Okay, I don’t know about Europe, but here in the United
States, hazing rituals have gotten so much negative attention that they’re
widely frowned upon – we’re talking lawsuits due to death and dismemberment. Thanks
to the public shootings, if you ever walked into a dorm with a ski mask on,
you’d most likely be tackled by security or a group of kids with sports
equipment. If this is an exaggeration of European culture, I’d love to get that
confirmation – otherwise, it’s an affirmation that U.S. culture is radically
different in how we approach things like this. That’s enough to give you pause.
#2 – We’ve got a
Nothing makes me roll my eyes faster than a college student
who thinks they’re the hardest thing out there because they drink beer and make
out with people at parties (double bonus points for them if it’s a member of
the same sex). That’s Alexia in a nutshell, and man is she obnoxious. She
forces her sister to participate in social conventions the girl really isn’t
interested in, such as partying and waxing. For her, social suicide is the only
thing that matters – to hell with her sister’s sense of agency. I can’t stand
people like that. If you want to have a good eyeroll at someone, Alexia’s your
#3 – Some of these
college people suck
Between the status quo students who haze and uphold social
convention and the professors, I’d absolutely hate to be in this college.
There’s one scene featuring a star student being lectured for being too
exceptional, and it’s incredulous. The worst part: there are people like that,
and they’re actively teaching. It runs with the theme of wanting everything to
be average: don’t be too good, don’t stick out, don’t draw attention to yourself.
It’s all about not wanting to make someone else feel bad, and, well, if you
can’t compete – or if your feelings get hurt because you’re not in first place
– don’t play. The beauty of this approach to characterization: you really don’t
get too attached to anyone, so you’re not upset when bad things happen to them.
#4 – Going with the
I can’t stress enough how much this film cautions against
just blindly going along with what the group dictates because it will make
fewer waves. There’s a whole lot of unquestioning behavior on Justine’s part:
she doesn’t fight against her mother’s vegetarian lifestyle; she doesn’t draw a
firm line against older students trying to get her to eat meat; she’s content
to let everyone think she’s still vegetarian after she starts craving meat.
Justine is all about appearances and a lack of confrontation. It’s a good thing
to observe, because too often, we’re asked to just accept things.
#5 – The visuals are
more than enough
Between Ruben Impens’s cinematography (really, his color
schemes are great) and the symbolism packed into the shots (my favorite was the
trees barren on one side and full on the other), this film deserves a couple of
minutes to appreciate simply how visually stunning it is. It feels a bit dream-like
in its visual clues and imagery. As much as I had some thematic problems with
this film, you can’t deny that it’s beautiful.
Oh Lisa Kudrow, you are a gift – as are you, Mira Sorvino.
In 1997, director David Mirkin brought them together for Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, a film about two women
determined to go back to their 10-year high school reunion and really show
those popular kids how awesome they are, thereby gaining validation and entry
into an out-of-reach social sphere. After a recent rewatch, I was struck at how
well this film has aged, especially in the age of the carefully-crafted digital
façade. Romy and Michele really do prove that self-acceptance and honesty win
out over a false narrative of happiness.
The very real hurt associated with the character Romy (Sorvino) is enough to make me want to hug her, buy her a drink, and take her out shopping and clubbing. Romy spent years lusting after golden boy Billy Christianson (Vincent Ventresca), ignored her in favor of cool girlfriend Christy Masters (Julia Campbell). Christy, for her part, unmercifully made fun of Romy and Michele for being quirky (read: having a personality outside of hair ties and Spandex), something that stuck with the sensitive Romy for a decade. Ten years later, Romy is still daydreaming of a handsome, chiseled man that will sweep her off her feet and tell her that she’s beautiful and special. Most telling: Romy feels the need to impress other people – she makes up a story that she and Michele invented Post It Notes so that they can earn the respect and admiration of the people who used to torment them. They want to go back and be something more than what others mocked. The urge is very human: it’s the hope that the people who looked down on you will suddenly see that they were wrong, offer an apology, and treat you the way they were treated for a long time.
But here’s the thing: Christy is lying and projecting a happy narrative, whereas Romy learns to accept the good things in her life rather than compare. Christy proudly proclaims that she and Billy have been married for almost ten years, which, if you do the math, means that someone got knocked up right after high school (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but more on that in a minute). She and her friends are all pregnant, and while she’s smiling when she tells Romy, “I feel very fulfilled,” her eyes are straight up shanking the woman who’s just told her, “You must feel really tied down.” When Romy finally sees Billy in real life, she gets confirmation that Christy lied to make everything look way better than it is: he has lost his rippling six pack, has a drinking problem, works in a job his father-in-law got him, doubts the paternity of Christy’s unborn child, and is actively seeking to cheat on his wife. This is the dreamboat Christy snagged. Meanwhile, after a pep talk from Michele (Kudrow), the women march into the reunion and declare that they lied in order to get treated like human beings. It’s an honest moment that – when coupled with their outfits and out-loud personalities – earns them snaps from classmate Lisa (Elaine Hendrix), who’s now an editor at Vogue magazine. Lisa goes a step further and claps back at Christy in front of everyone, telling the angry pregnant woman, “You keep telling yourself that [you’re happy]” in front of the whole group. It’s a satisfying moment we wish we could have with the people who’ve treated us poorly.
The thing is, in the digital age, the Christys of the world have really flourished, and people can tell who they are. Go on Facebook or Instagram, and you can see the women who treated others poorly displaying glossy photoshoots of newborns or weddings or boyfriends; meanwhile, as the old joke goes, the most popular guy in school is now mowing your lawn. It’s even better if these people are married to each other and share an account (several friends cackle and yell, “Okay, which one cheated?” when they see a shared account. Really, we see you. We know that someone got caught cheating.). Worst yet is the Mommy Mafia some of them form; I myself have had the immeasurable pleasure of knowing the ONLY WOMAN who has ever given birth to one baby and can’t possibly imagine loving another one because it’s SO MAGICAL and she needs to devote EVERY MOMENT to her child and her husband is THE BEST daddy on the planet (I’ll wait a minute for your eyes to unroll. We good? Good. Let’s continue.). Point is, people seek validation – they want to feel like they belong, and that sense of longing can really do a number on someone who is struggling with things like weight, acne, voice changes, height, etc. That feeling dies hard too – often, we’ll try to link up with people to feel like we’re not alone without fully processing that the person criticizing you is trying to sell you something. Honestly, Romy’s assessment of Christy feeling tied down has to sting. Adults out in the world – people in their damn late 30s and early 40s – struggle with the sense of loss of a social life when they have kids, let alone being 18 years old, wanting to party and never having that chance. Having children young is not inherently bad (some people do extraordinarily well, and I give them all the credit in the world), but even they will speak to feeling like they missed out on the experience of being young and carefree. The temptation to compare in Romy and Michele still exists today, with the added difference that currently, we can look at other people through the filter of what they want us to see and feel like they’re superior if we haven’t achieved that yet. It’s the same disease – it’s just mutated a bit.
It’s only human to compare yourself to someone else, and to doubt if you’re in the right spot. The perfect way to break this cycle is to do as Romy and Michele: be yourself. Like who you are, like the life you have, and recognize the freedoms you have. Someone who’s actively trying to make you feel worse often has the most to hide – they’re the person who can’t admit how bad things are on their end. Sometimes, you have to dance to “Time After Time” like the whole class is watching. Just do you.