It is Good Friday of Holy Week. I am not feeling all that holy or good. I have not been able to sleep all that much this week. It’s been restless sleep and the inability to relax. I feel like I am dropping the balls I’ve been juggling the last few months one by one.
This morning I got up at around 4:40 AM after having gone to bed around 12:30 AM. I tried to nap around noon but could not. So I prowled like a panther around OKC looking for something to do.
I went to the mall to look for a new pair of shorts. The mall was crazy busy. I left and went to go to Old Navy. I realized that I haven’t fit the Old Navy demographics for at least 7 years. In the hunt for something to do time flew by and by the time I decided to go to a movie any of the movies I would go see for this time were already deep in to their screening.
I bought a ticket for “Spring Breakers” without knowing anything about it. I thought it was a raunchy, teen coming of age flick in the vein of One Crazy Summer or the 83 Spring Break. I grab my popcorn and soda and find a seat in the farthest left corner. I like to be away from folks in a movie. Crowds bother me.
There were only 3-4 folks in the theater with me, all of us male. All of us white. I was the youngest by 30 years. I was not so creepy until the movie started.
Within the first 60 seconds of the film we were bombarded with a parade of topless women in sexually suggestive situations being doused with alcohol by young men sporting board shorts. Then it cut to these same young women, still topless, eating popsicles and giggling as they fondled each other, seemingly testing their sexuality for the sake of pleasing the cheering mass of board shorted young men.
I fought with myself wither to leave or not. I reached out to twitter and began a running commentary of what was going on in the movie. I kept hoping for redemption to arrive. There was a character that went to a fungelical church led by an ex-biker type male pastor.
The film follows the antics of 4 collage friends that feel trapped and boarded by their surroundings. They long to be liberated from their average middle-class, Caucasian, university backgrounds and to taste the danger in leaving it all behind. Three of the women use drugs. I would use abused drugs if there were greater evidence that the habits portrayed in the events of the film were more representative of their daily lifestyles.
They do not have the financial means to leave where they are and go to Florida like everyone else at the university they attend. They ramp up the drug use and playful explore the abandoned university world around them. Then they get loaded and decided to rob a fast food restaurant to get money to go to Florida and have the spring break experience they dream of.
In a very violent act three of the ladies (the “good” one that goes to church doesn’t participate) don ski masks and rob the store. This empowers them greatly and they in their drug educed fever play hip-hop in the background and get pumped up. They get on a bus to Florida, ready to party!
There they get caught up with some shady folks and end up in jail. A local drug dealer sees them in court and decides to bail them out. He begins to groom them. They party together. The drug dealer (played by James Franco) introduced them to the local underground scene.
It gets real bad real quick. Soon 2 of the friends are in a relationship with the drug dealer and they commit crimes with him and eventually do really crazy stuff. The movie if filmed with massive amounts of flashbacks and cut scene. It is sort of confusing and didn’t really make sense until the very end. Then I saw the director, Harmony Korine.
Harmony is best known for his efforts with Kids and Gummo. He is bizarre and surreal. He once followed Macaulay Culkin around NYC shooting strange photos and publishing them in a poem books with oddly spaced and scattered verses. This film was strange, dark, and absurd.
It also struck a nerve with me. It was an interesting look at American Exceptionalism and the excess of consumption as it travels through these shifting sands of economic, political, and generational angst. It was a stark reminder at the bleak world view so many recent college grads face. The search for real community and a place to grow resonated with me deeply.
I found myself judging the 4 friends experience as foolish, selfish, dangerous, and fueled by privilege. I began to wonder if my critique would be the same if the film revolved around male characters in an era more familiar to me. Did the gender and empowered exploration of identity and orientation challenge my liberal leanings? Did the setting of 2012 American Florida hit too close to home and disable my ability to suspended reality and allow me to face the injustice in my own ways?
I suspect both of these questions would reveal that I did have difficulty with these powerful wildly exploring female characters and that I am romantically holding on to my youthful context as exceptional and to be the lynchpin of understanding as positive solutions are explored to understand these changing times. In short, I realized I am The Man.
Around the time I realized I was judging these woman harshly the movie shifted gears and hyped us up with the introduction of Franco’s character. He was far easier to dislike and relate too.
What was the lesson in this film? I am not sure there is one. I have spent the last 5 hours searching my soul, heart, and mind as to why this film dislodged me so deeply. I am captivated by the loneliness and isolation of these women in the midst of what many of us would deem “normal.” I wonder where I went wrong and when did I stop listening to this generation. I swore I would not do this to them. How long have I treated them as I have been treated?
I still listen to the Pips but I have lost the ability to hear the Pips.