a movie review complete with spoilers (oh yeah, i’m pissed about geek girl films again)

(driving into the restaurant last Friday. The same restaurant as the incident where Eric drove my car onto the cement parking lot divider.)

[scripty]
PAMIE
Hey, can you not park in this spot again?

ERIC
I was just thinking that. I’ll go park over there where there’s no cement.

PAMIE
Good idea.

ERIC
I’ve done a lot of stupid things while we have been dating.

PAMIE
But you keep your charm.

ERIC
I’d be pissed if you did that to my car.

PAMIE
I was pissed. Someone wrote to me that she couldn’t believe I didn’t kill you after you drove my car on the cement block.

ERIC
Yeah, I guess you could get in trouble with your readers for that.

PAMIE
Are you kidding? They took away one of my “r”s.

ERIC
You’re not a grrl anymore?

PAMIE
Now I’m just a grl.

ERIC
I’m sorry.

PAMIE
I’ll earn it back.
[/scripty]

So, it turns out that over the past four months I haven’t had a cold that wouldn’t go away. All the sniffing and sneezing. All the times I thought I was allergic to work: I am an allergy sufferer. I didn’t know how powerful this was. Now I’m on allergy medication, and I can wake up in the mornings, I have energy throughout the day, my eyes don’t hurt, the roof of my mouth doesn’t itch…

It’s like a whole new pamie.

And the medicine that I’m on has some sort of drug in it that makes the antihistamine a non-drowsy formula, so the one drawback is I’m having a little trouble sleeping. But, you know, I’m not that upset about that. I have to take it before I go to sleep if I’m to continue having Lillith and Taylor curled around my head while I slumber. Another perk to this medicine? My appetite has gone way down. I hardly finish a meal anymore. So, let’s recap: I’m not smoking, I’m hardly eating, because I’m not smoking I can push myself further in my exercises, I’m drinking tons of water since I’m not eating or smoking, I’m on medicine that kick-starts my body and keeps me hepped up at all times–

the result? This morning when I went to the doctor they weighed me. I’ve lost nine pounds in a week.

The funny thing is I was starting to notice it yesterday, looking in the mirror, and Eric commented last night. So, I don’t think it was just an inaccurate reading. I’m sure it will all taper off.

Movie Review time. Sunday night I watched Whatever. On the video tape it says, “A teenage Thelma and Louise.” “Girl Power at it’s finest.” “A coming of age film that is both touching and gritty.” What this film actually is is another Teenage Suburbia Eighties Angst film. And that’s fine with me, since I’m still searching for the perfect eighties geek girl film that tells it like it is. And this one came closer. It really did. For the first hour or so, I found myself engaged in the film, and identifying with the main character, Anna. Not completely, though, because Anna isn’t so much a geek girl as she is a freak girl. She’s the art student who doesn’t really care about her classes and just wants to go to art school and get out of her house. Anna was a lot like many of my high school friends. Anna also drinks and does drugs, which I never did, but again, I saw in my friends. Liza Weil plays Anna with the right amount of humility and grace. Anna is trying to figure out what she wants in life, and for the first hour what she wants is to know whether she should lose her virginity or not. Her best friend, Brenda, has already lost hers long ago. It’s the relationship between the two girls that I most identified with. Anna follows Brenda where she wants to go because she seems to just “know more.” Brenda finds the fun. Anna isn’t going to make waves. Because of this she ends up in many places she normally wouldn’t have ended up in, and finds herself in troubles that she never meant to walk into. That happened to me often in high school, because I was always curious what my wilder friends were going to do next.

Where this movie loses interest for me is in just about every other character. Anna’s family is terrible. Her mother’s a lousy mother, her little brother is a big jerk. Again, the family is lowered to just basic “evil” characters to have us sympathize easily with our main character. Brenda’s family is no better. Her mother is a weak “Just-ask-your-father” woman, who is raising two smaller “perfect” children. Oh, and guess why Brenda is such a fast girl? Why would she be doing drugs and smoking and drinking? You guessed it, her father rapes her nightly. Remember, we cannot have a troubled girl in a film without her being raped or molested. That is why every woman has the problems she has. Don’t forget it.

Every adult in this film is a stupid stereotype. The English teacher is a hardass who lives to flunk Anna. The guidance counselor just doesn’t understand this whole “art thing” and hopes she has “something to fall back on.” She buys Anna’s lies about college blindly. The art teacher is this incredibly hokey “I really love my kids” kind of teacher who has all the time in the world for special one-on-one classes with her. Apparently she is his only student, and he loves her so much he gets her out of detention so they can work on projects and discuss art school together in an empty room that never has any other students.

And the boyfriends. Stoners, “deep” artists, or drunk frat boys. That’s what you have to choose from to lose your virginity, girls. Take your pick. All boys are bad in this film, except for the ones who are bad boys. The ex-con bikers turn out to be sweethearts even though they are on their way to commit a crime. But the ones without criminal records are the real evil. The artist just wants you until he fucks you and then he goes on his way to date women his own age. The stoners only want you for your drugs, and the drunk frat boys call you a pig, get you drunk and then gang bang you.

Wasn’t everyone’s high school like that?

But if you ignore everyone else in this film, the relationship between the two girls does ring true. I remember looking up to my girlfriends who had already had sex and just thought they were more womanly than I was. I remember dressing up in front of my mirror at home trying to look like they did. I could never get it right. I never had the right amount of make-up, the right bras, the right posture, the right hair. I never looked like I went all the way. I somehow thought once your hymen broke, then you got that really cool stare and your lips got just pouty enough to dangle the cigarette in the right way. It’s the moments of sexual intimacy that we see Anna have that also ring true. Despite what stereotype she’s fooling around with, her fears and wants are dead on. That’s the moment when you are reliving high school. When you see her wonder how far he thinks she’s going to go, and hope that she’s giving the right signals, and placing her hips the right way, and just ends up giggling.

It’s Liza Weil who makes this a memorable film. Her portrayal of Anna is honest and true. Watch it for her. And although she’s not really a geek girl, she’s another side of me that I sometimes try to forget about. I was one of those almost punk kids who hung with the real punk kids but never really got it right. I knew the right words to the right songs, but I never really liked the taste of booze.

My first play when I was a teenager was called “Running.” It’s about teen group therapy and while all of the teens are being nasty to each other, each one comes forward with a monologue about why he or she is the way he or she is. The bulimic throws up because her mother is overweight. The jock is an asshole because his dad tells him he has to win all the time. The shy geek girl doesn’t talk because she was molested. The slut is the slut because her stepfather rapes her every night. The shy quiet boy is the shy quiet boy because he was touched once when he was a kid.

I understand that it’s important to know that these things go on and that these things are terrible and it leaves damage on the person. But speaking as a sex abuse survivor: I am not the way I am because of what happened to me when I was eight. It didn’t make me funnier. It didn’t make me an extrovert. If anything, it made me shy away from sex until I knew it was right for me. Using abuse as an excuse for a character creation is wimping out. Make the character dynamic because of the people around her. People have good qualities and bad qualities and they learn them from different people and different things.

Why does she eat like that? Her dad touched her.

Why does she not like to go outside? Her uncle touched her. Why does she run around with all the boys? Her priest touched her.

Why does she have to be so perfect? Her mother’s friend touched her.

It is not an answer to the question. It is only part of the problem. It took me a long time to realize who I was wasn’t dictated by what happened to me. I make my own decisions. I don’t have to be a certain way because of what happened to me. But by watching films I thought that if I acted out, if I burned myself or cut myself or threw myself at boys, then someone would know, they would know I had been hurt. After all, that’s how they always found out the girl’s secrets on t.v. I just knew someone would come up to me one day and say, “Hey, why are you acting this way? Did someone hurt you?”

But that never happened. No one noticed. And it wasn’t their job to notice. It was mine to stop emulating what my television told me was the right way to act. The movies told me I’d get attention and help and people would feel sorry for me and cuddle me and help me be strong and say things like, “Don’t give up, I believe in you.” But really, I had to start listening to myself. Do things for myself. And then I became stronger. I became the woman I wanted to be.

If anyone who is writing films happens to be reading this, please: Stop telling little girls that the way to have everyone know that something bad happened to you is to act like a wild child. Because people don’t stop and ask you if something is wrong. They start treating you like a bad kid. And then it’s too late. You’re just a bad kid because you don’t know what else to be.

Man, it’s enough to make me just want to watch John Hughes films. I mean, yeah, everyone’s a stereotype, but at least everyone is funny. And Ally Sheedy isn’t a nymphomaniac, she’s a pathological liar. And she’s not that way because she’s been messed with. She’s just bored. Sure, it’s a simpler world, but it’s a bit more truthful in its simplicity.

Okay, no more soapbox. I’m done with this topic, I promise.

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