let's get the seven lines. (bookshop) wrote,
let's get the seven lines.
bookshop

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P.S. Jemima J, I love your 27 Prada dresses

I have seen too many movies lately.

- I went to see Enchanted the other night. It's the second time. I'll probably see it again. It's the dancing in Central Park, okay. Shut up. We've had this hilariously loud audience both times I've gone. This time around, at the part where the divorced couple is going "do we trade all of the good times for a few bad moments?" this woman in the audience whispered loudly, "Yeah, we do," and everyone heard her and slowly the whole audience just started to laugh nervously and awkwardly. It was awesome.

Oh, and I went to see Cloverfield, and right as the movie started, this really tall guy got up and started to amble in a leisurely way down across the bottom of the stadium seating, and his redneck friend yelled really loudly, "Hurry the fuck up!" and Tall Leisurely Rural Gentleman just, like, kept ambling along, and then he yelled back across the packed audience, "I am hurrying!" And then he waited a few seconds and yelled: "Shit!" I was like dying. No one else was laughing. Life.

(Cloverfield seriously was disturbing to me, not because it was scary, though it was really well-done, but because to me it will never not be too soon to make a movie that blatantly exploits 9/11, but I digress.)

Lately everywhere I go everyone is funny. There's a guy I work with, and I swear every time I walk into a room, he'll be in the middle of ending a conversation with things like "so crack mothers just need to find ways to sell their children for cash," or "well, no one wants to liquidate assets because it means they're nearing death."

Last night I went to a game night and this corporate dude from out of town showed up wearing this gigantic gray and brown plaid flannel shirt, it was the ugliest thing i've ever seen. We were playing these obscure german board games and I was just staring at this man's shirt, and he was like "hey, i'm dressing casual, is this casual enough?"

Tonight the chick at the drive through said to me, "Hey, I'm sorry for the wait. The guy in front of you was..." and then she gave the car driving away a dubious look, and ended, "...interesting." She offered no other explanation. Life is suddenly hilarious all the time.


Now for a rant.


With the exception of Bridget Jones, the one that started it all - not that I'm not extremely grateful to Helen Fielding for depriving me of the ability to use personal pronouns in shorthand - I've yet to pick up a book that falls under the label of "chick lit" that hasn't left me feeling a bit repulsed.

They're all about these 20-something or 30-something women in upwardly mobile high-powered career tracks for these trendy jobs in journalism or publishing or artsy craftsy things. They all involve these heroines who are supposedly just a little bit off the mark - they're not pretty enough, they're overshadowed by their beautiful sister or best friend, they're above a size 20 (but they won't be by the end of the book, because this is all about personal growth, or in this case, personal shrinkage), or they're stuck driving a volvo and raiding thrift stores, yet still somehow always manage to look fabulous.

And they've all met Mr. Right, except for whatever reason, Mr. Right won't give them the time of day, and that's always the issue, isn't it? Because no matter how far women have evolved, in the end it all comes down to the fantasy: the perfect life, the perfect career, the perfect man. By the end of the chick lit novel, the woman will have reached her breaking point. She'll have figured out exactly what she needs to change her life, and rest assured, it will involve cleaning out her closets (trading her 3-year-old 5th avenue wardrobe for something newer), getting a makeover, and/or traveling back home to get in touch with her family and her traditional roots, the source from which all true progressive feminist change emerges.

By the end of the book, she'll have made a sudden upward career spring. She'll be on her way to becoming that high-powered publisher/editor/illustrator/interior designer/shoe artist/handbag maker/reporter/journalist/insert-your-right-brained-writerly-artsy-career-path-here. She'll be on her way to finding true happiness with another guy, usually not the one she started out with, someone as supposedly quirky and unconventional as she is.

And maybe, if she's lucky, in her journey through chicklitdom, she'll have learned that beneath all her witty, wisecracking urban styled-for-prime-time-dialogue and her well-shod exterior, there exists a girl with real feeling, a woman of substance beneath all that....

all that what, exactly? All that clumsiness? All that awkwardness? Because maybe I'm just bitter or missing the point, but I never get it. Maybe I just can't get past the trendy urban lifestyle, or all that snappy cynicism toward dating and relationships and professional paths. Every time I read chick lit, I feel like when I was a little girl and my mom brought home a cutout paper doll book and expected me to play with them. Or, well, Barbies. I don't like Barbie. I don't like paper dolls. Even in last year's fashions the characters of chick lit universes are more well-turned out than I'll ever be. They have more inherent sense of professional direction than I've ever found, even when they're lamenting their dead-end job writing classified ads (been there, done that, except that, killjoy that I am, I didn't have the good fortune to follow it up with a wardrobe overhaul and a run-in with the guy of my dreams. Alas!).

And I have about as much in common with them as I do with June Cleaver.

That's what angers me most about chick lit. I feel like I'm being handed a portrait of my generation and it looks nothing like me, nothing like any of the people I know and love and care about. maybe I'm just not New York enough. But I love New York, and I don't love chick lit. I hate the way I feel as if the women in chick lit have been molded into these pseudo-ironic cutouts of what the modern urban woman should be. Look at them! They're trying their best to be witty and groomed and focused and fabulous, but they're just like you and me! their lives are so awkward and amusing! -- Except that the awkwardness and the irony is lost on me. These are characters who I'm being asked to relate to because they're witty and fabulous and well-heeled despite their faults; because their lives are just glamorous enough, their careers just envy-inspiring enough, to appeal to real women.

Except they don't appeal to me. The fact that the chick lit industry thinks that appeals to me baffles me and somewhat repulses me.

So I keep trying to read chick lit to see what I'm missing, but I inevitably get a chapter in and can't stop hating the heroine for their oh-so-endearing sense of displacement in their fabulous urban high life, and all the wry, self-loathing 1st person commentary that goes with. What's so horrible about not being ironic and cynical? I'm really, really sick of feeling like I'm the only person I know who'd rather just have an earnest, sincere conversation for once instead of having to mask feelings and couch them in terms of dry humor and understatement and sarcasm. And chick lit dresses up that kind of irony and turns it into a kind of warped feminist commentary. And, no. Just. no.

I hate chick lit!!!!

Most of all, I hate feeling like I have nothing in common with the modern woman as I see her all around me. I feel like the way I feel, act, look, and dream is light years away from the way society tells me I am supposed to feel, act, look, and dream. When I read, I want to see my own reflection, I want to see myself illuminated in the pages. I never see myself in chick lit. Maybe that means that i'm not the modern, urbanized, stylized and witticized woman all girls secretly dream of being. Or something.

Maybe it just means I need to stop expecting so much. I mean. It's just modern American life, right? Who really expects that to mean anything anymore?

_____

(That said, oh my god I love Devil Wears Prada fandom. You guys, seriously, if you haven't read every Miranda/Andy fic there is, you are missing the fuck. out. I'm just saying. Femslash has never looked so good. And I really really don't mean the fashion. Okay. I sort of mean the fashion. Argh.)
Tags: books, film, life
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