Thursday, June 7, 2012

Oblivious Express

White folks with dreads should be shot into space. Brah.

Let me own up to something right away: I used to smoke a lot of weed. I’m not bragging. In fact, I often wish I hadn’t smoked so much. Not long ago, a friend reminded me that I once staunchly defended “Half-Baked” as a hilarious “film”. Good lord. I quit chiefing (do people still call it this?) years ago, and maybe this is why I now find the “stoner” character in movies so unbearable. Was I that person? Was I worse? Did I talk about pot incessantly, using it as both noun and verb? Did I pull the tiniest buds from recycled jam jars, hold them intimately close to my face, and speak softly to them as though they were a litter of corgi puppies? I want to say no, but who really remembers, right? Everyone else, probably.

I think about my hatred for the stoner archetype each time the insufferable fuckshit that is James Franco is mentioned in conversation, or appears in a film, or in this case, is invited to write for public consumption. Two things: being irritated by James Franco is not a novel response, nor is it unique for someone to lambaste the HBO show Girls, which I've still never seen. In fact, it seems Gawker has dedicated itself to crucifying the show and the creator, which basically amounts to Brooklyn folks bullying other Brooklyn folks, or put another way, a nauseatingly stylish snuggle fight.  

And I am perfectly content in a world where Franco is terrible and folks complain about television. There's comfort in routine. But I turn really sour when Franco takes a shot at writing programs. For those of you who are unaware, James Franco has 14 MFA’s*.  So of course, he would know something about MFA culture**. Below is the connection he makes between Girls and graduate students. I’ll return after the jump, provide I haven’t found someone to jackhammer my face off by then:

"I worked at McDonalds, and my first suggestion to Hannah would be this: get a fucking job. If you really want to have experiences to write about, go to work; and if you really want to be an artist, take responsibility for yourself and wait some tables. You might mature a little in the process.
That leads me to my other connection with these young women just out of college: I've spent the last five or six years in classes with people like them. I'm not making any judgments about my ex-classmates -- I'm sure many of them have plenty to say about an actor invading their M.F.A. bubbles -- but I will say that many of the movies and stories they produced in those programs featured storylines that would have fit right in on Girls.”

By “people like them”, I am only left to assume that grad students are being compared to those characters on the show (of which, I HAVE DEDUCED, Hannah is the main character), and therefore, grad students need to “get a fucking job”. I have a fucking job, Lames. Lots of grad students have fucking jobs. It’s called teaching. See, that’s how many of us afford grad school. Judd Apatow’s not walking through that door anytime soon to pay your stipend, folks.

People write about tons of experiences, and while waiting tables or working at McDonalds are perfectly fine, neither necessarily makes you a better artist. I know kids who’ve never done a damned productive thing outside of manufacturing a piece of art and they’re fucking fantastic at it. I poured concrete for a summer, managed the lumber department at Lowe’s, and the outside garden center at Home Depot. Now I’m a poet in a PhD program. Know who got into Ploughshares? You, shit biscuit. Was it because your Happy Meals changed the world? Did you discover a new species of potato cake?

NO! You’re James Fucking Franco! 

And don't think you get to just sneak out the side door, academia. You’re culpable in the creation of this monster. You, who were so star struck that an attractive, world famous person was FINALLY interested in you that you jumped like a starved fish. In the process, you sold out other kids who stayed up so many nights, worked so many hours, perfecting their manuscripts—even that mind-numbing Statement of Purpose letter***---so that they could get into YOUR program, work closely with YOU in particular, and immerse themselves in what they truly love. "Dude" used it as a sideshow, a research project so that he could “tap into being a writer”****, and put that knowledge toward terrible film roles.

I call it: "Sad Stare Thoughts"
John Hamm is awesome

Quick thought: if I had been a school administrator looking over terrible applications submitted by a young Sophia Loren or Paul Newman I’d have caved, too. I’d have let them spray paint liquid gelatin on a Triscuit if it made them happy. Nevermind that.

“But I will say that many of the movies and stories they produced in those programs featured storylines that would have fit right in on Girls.” Perhaps. But I bet they also produced movies or stories better than—General Hospital, Tristan and Isolde, Flyboys, Knocked Up, Nights in Rodanthe, Howl, Date Night, Eat-Pray-Love, Your Highness, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and OH HOLY SHITPICKLES—Pineapple Express*****. Which brings me back to the stoner archetype. It was done right once. ONCE. 

"Are you cool, man?" No, Slater, they're not

Stop doing it. Please stop doing it. True Romance is my favorite movie of all time. Know what character has nothing to do with anything? Floyd. Floyd could simply not be, and the movie is still magnificent. I get it, Apatow crew. Weed is funny and you like to smoke weed. Dick jokes are funny and that's kind of your jam. While this all seems to make logical sense, you just come off as a dickweed. 

Mostly though, I just require that you keep my "bubble's" name outcha mouth. You were privileged to work with the people you worked with. You took spots that others could’ve filled based on their work, not their names. Acknowledge your place, and stay in it. 

* I think it’s more like 4. I don’t know. I’m not Sportscenter.  

** He knows these cultures exist, yes.

***Here’s an excerpt from mine—“Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please. Like me, like me, like me, like me, like me, like me, like me, like me.”

**** Not his words, but that’s what I glean from his attitude on the whole thing. What? Shit ain’t called “Rational Mink”.

***** Alright, alright, you were phenomenal in Milk. 

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