Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Three Quotes

This is a point I have made a lot, but: one of the interesting things about teen movies in the 1980s vs. their late 1990s counterparts is that the former are generally much more class-conscious. Still "Hollywood," plenty of wish fulfillment and obfuscation, sure, but they acknowledge certain disparities in the way communities are separated, how individuals are thereby classified and subjected to different social options. These disparities are plasticized out of existence in (most) recent teen films. Have you seen Step Up? 10 Things I Hate About You? These are films where the outsider/underdog is never really poor. They are coded as bohemian instead or, more precisely, bobo. I kind of enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada, but Anne Hathaway's living a life of relative privilege, albeit stressful privilege, in that movie, and would not be able to afford her apartment with a live-in cook boyfriend—if I recall—unless there was some serious trust fund support. Why can't there be more studio films with cramped, imperfect apartments!? Or—God forbid—living conditions that require one to interact and compromise with their neighbors. A striking feature of The Karate Kid is that little Danny Russo meets people right away in his surroundings. Most importantly, Mr. Miyagi. Hollywood fantasy, especially today, it seems to me, is about being able to live without interference from neighbors, without being in a situation where one is forced to negotiate space, noise, bills, chores, commutes.

Zach Campbell, 10/10/2008

As much as chunk white albacore, kosher lamb and organic lemonade, then, what FreshDirect is selling is a new model of daily existence — one in which Megan and Josh Yogapants can issue esoteric commands from their keyboards and find them quickly and cheerfully fulfilled as if by latter-day butlers and valets. ...

With FreshDirect, the ultimate urban middle-class trudge — grocery shopping — becomes an opportunity to hand down judgments and orders from the home’s new position of authority: the couch. Underscoring her power and leisure, the FreshDirect shopper barely gets out of bed (Jason of the Lower East Side takes pride in shopping in pajamas) and disregards standard working hours (“Ordering late at night is the key ingredient,” writes Elaine of Tribeca). The new life that FreshDirect affords us, apparently, involves securing for ourselves certain Howard Hughes-like eccentricities — the way rich people do.

Virginia Heffernan, "Produce Yourself", New York Times, 10/12/2008

Go to the grocery store. The way that people ignore each other so casually there sickens me. If you try and interact with any other humans at the grocery store, they act like you're crazy. I went to the new Wegman's in Hunt Valley yesterday, part of the new Hunt Valley "Towne Centre." There's a mezzanine with tables for eating at which overlooks the main floor of the store. If you stood on that mezzanine at the right time, you could address 200 people at once-- maybe more, I'm not that good at estimating numbers of people-- they'd all be able to see and hear you very, very clearly. I left without speaking, thinking that I should think of something thought-out and eloquent to say, but the more I think about it the more I feel that going straight off the top is what needs to be done at the grocery store. Volume and frequency are probably much more important elements for any speech that would come off that mezzanine. ...

I propose that boring, isolationist grocery shopping should be abolished from the lives of our people this New Year. Gather your friends and neighbors and pick a day and time that's convenient to everyone, and go grocery shopping together every week at that time. And when you shop together, shop ecstatically. Run to the good deals and shout out for all to hear once you have found them. Sing grocery-shopping shanties. It's not crazy to talk to other humans that are all around you-- it's crazy to shuffle around as if they weren't there.

Rjyan Kidwell, 12/12/2005

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