Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Planet of Regret

Subtitled- Musings on Culture and Generation After a Viewing of Reality Bites.

Who knew Winona Ryder could be so inspirational? After all these years of being mildly annoyed at her early Tim Burton muse status, her need to constantly keep up her brunette locks (natural blonde does her no favors), and her no-good-dirty-shoplifting, I have found solace and philosophy in the most unlikely of sources. Namely, a relationship between two initially hateful actors- Ryder and a greasy Ethan Hawke- that I can not only identify with, but that poses the universal question: who am I, where do I fit, and what are my values?

A few months ago I read Chuck Klosterman's Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, a must read for any and all pop culture junkies who fancy themselves part of the untapped intelligentsia. In the chapter "Sulking with Lisa Loeb on the Ice Planet Hoth," Klosterman uses The Empire Strikes Back and Reality Bites to define Generation X. And if that alone doesn't make you immediately want to read this book, I don't know what will.

Klosterman describes Gen-Xer's as a people who reject society because they recognize it's flaws, but are ultimately too lazy to change their world. They are the genius with wasted potential, but are imbued with a sort of enviable pride. Using that definition, Winona Ryder's tumultuous relationship with Ethan Hawke stops being the ideal of friends morphing into perfect lovers. It becomes a desperate declaration of her refusal to compromise.

For young twennysomthin's, that's what the 90's were all about. It wasn't just "stickin' it to the man," but it was firmly saying that the man should not, and does not exist. They lived their lives secure in their knowledge and smug sense of superiority. And I can't help but admire that, that utter assurance of self.

And what do we, the waifs of the 21st century, what do we contribute to the scale? Do we have moral codes? I wonder if, when faced with a choice, the average contemporary would exhibit a stubborn refusal to sell out, or would take comfort in safety and success regardless of the cost. Are we schmoozers with a dollar sign on the bottom line, or are we the brilliant bums on basement couches? Perhaps it's an impossible question, as there are no absolutes but mere situations. But history books prove that this is untrue, and how will they portray the present?

Like the most intriguing questions, I suppose this will take time and patience to discover. My two least favorite attributes. Ah well. That's it for now, folks. I'm Audi 5000.


rosemary said...

I knew you'd love it! And I'm glad you wielded the truths presented by Mr. Stiller so deftly. Also, you title made my eyes sting a little.

Sierra Robinson said...

Can I borrow your book?

David's Holla Atchya! Blog said...

I always thought it was "Outtie 5000." You are probably right.