A couple of weeks or months ago I read this article from 2008 wherein the writer worried that we (the American public) would be bombarded by cutesy Away We Go films in a post-Dubya America.
The writer said that movies decrying capitalism, the hopelessness of it all (see also: There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men) and were general pensive reflections on our society couldn’t possibly exist with our new “Yes We Can” hope. We were supposed to be perfect, complete and dealing with less egregious first world problems.
We were supposed to have progressive characters like Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski (and I’m basing my entire character assumptions off the Away We Go trailer), with unkempt hair and surrounded by people who were so laid back they were horizontal (rimshot! Totally nailed it, right?).
Also shitty cars (see also: Nick and Norah’s…), cartoon block lettering (see also: Juno), so many quirks, hopehopehopehopehope, bright, sunshiney hope, people who were nice to each other and had the means to live exactly the way they wanted to live. Happily.
And if we’re using movies as a reflection of our society, or even as an escape or ideal, those are good things to see. We deserve happy endings, love and hope. Also, we deserve cute! For a while the world was pretty ugly from an American perspective (see also: 2001)
But our lives aren’t all sunshine, lollipops and Kimya Dawson.
We can do whatever we want. We can succeed and work our hardest. And then we can be George Clooney in Up in the Air: superb packers, stopping in to empty houses and take-out menus. There, but just barely there.
I’m reading through the Up in the Air screenplay now and I can’t help but think that the writer of that article in 2008 was both right and wrong.
Yes, we’ve moved away from those hopeless tales but we’re still searching and that search can still lead us to dark places.
We’re certainly not hopeless, but the complexity of our lives doesn’t take on a new clarity with the change of a president or a shift in the House. We’re all still coming of age and our metamorphosis will be just as painful/ugly/beautiful as it should.
Calm down, ‘Merica. WE’RE NOT THERE YET! Meaning: we don’t have this shit figured out. I mean, were people honestly expecting cartoon block letters to start popping up in their life?
It’s like we’re on an episode of House but our symptoms are so ambiguous and Hugh Laurie never shows up to save the day and:
(although, honestly, it’s probably lupus, right?), and we’re just hoping so hard that it’s lupus so someone can give us the right drugs and make it perfect.
So we’re sitting, waiting, wishing and we’re afraid to reflect or really evaluate because –been there, done that, we want the world and we want it RIGHT NOW– so we find new symptoms, or problems, that we think can rush the diagnosis.
I mean, are we just going to be constantly stuck in this cycle of existential angst? Or can we put in the Immaculate Collection and just dance?
I was ten when Dubya was first elected to office. TEN! I was still getting excited about having an age that required two numbers. I literally knew shit about shit when it came to politics. Madonna was singing for the Austin Powers soundtrack.
I realized the other day that a vast majority of my thinking or thoughtful life has been spent in a post-9/11 era.
I say thinking/thoughtful life, because sometime within those eight years I had a coming-of-age (of sorts) where I had to realize what it meant to be an American, to live where I live and what my future could hold.
I had flown on a plane once before 9/11. I’m not sure I can tell you what an “orange alert” is, because that’s just normal to me. We are fish and this is water. Don’t ask me to describe it, it just is what it is and we’re existing in it.
And that’s weird because if you were born ten or even five years before me, you have that much more experience with, basically, everything. You’ve seen decadence, the birth of grunge, the rebirth of the plain white tee as a statement, you’ve seen the Clueless generation, you’ve witnessed the growing dominance of technology and grown with it and so on and so forth, forever and ever, Amen.
And, you know, I guess I lost my point somewhere between “What’s your function?” and the generation gap that exists within ten years of living but Willow Smith has never existed at the same time as the Twin Towers and doesn’t even have Rugrats as a reference point to what the hell they are and isn’t that insane?
We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got a ways to go. Forever.