Butch and I watched Away We Go* the other night. While I like most indie movies, it takes something special for Butch to really enjoy them, something like a pretentious self-proclaimed guru character, preferably played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. LN (as opposed to “Ellen”) is a gender-studies professor who, when we meet her, is topless and breastfeeding her two children, one who’s old enough to walk on his own. She is mystified when a fellow professor refuses to allow her around her child (or husband) after she breastfed the woman’s toddler during a babysitting stint. And she is likewise horrified at pretty much every personal decision that Mya Rudolph’s pregnant character has made, because (gasp) these choices don’t match her own. Like Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character in High Fidelity, LN “doesn’t listen to anyone and talks nothing,” yet always knows more than everyone around her.
Mya Rudolph and John Krasinski attempt to be good house guests by buying LN an expensive bugaboo-style stroller. This humble gesture does not go over well:
I wish this clip went on a little longer – the scene ends with LN dismissively waving her arms and proclaiming “I REJECT your negativity” (or some similar robotic therapy mantra) followed by John Krasinski shouting “Well I reject your incredible BULLSHIT” before they run out the door. Genius!
Which brings us to our next set of what Butch calls “trust-fund hippies.” I unfortunately came across this article in the New York Times about a couple in Maine that (gasp, again) survive on only $17,000 a year. Upon closer inspection, neither of them are actually native to Maine and they only make $17,000 annually because one chose to quit their teaching job and the other chooses to only collect income through the sale of overpriced driftwood lamps. Oh, but the Times wants you to know just how “thrifty” they are – “They never buy coffee out; they make it at home and take it with them. They cut their own grass and do their own landscaping.” No WAY! How come I never thought of that? Oh, wait, I did, and so did everyone else.
The writer makes a repetitive point of how this couple find items for the house at (gasp gasp gasp!) the “DUMP” (Which anyone who’s from Maine/Any-Rural-Area knows is a fairly normal place where self-reliant people leave perfectly good items knowing that other self-reliant types can use them). What the journalist failed to investigate is how this couple afforded to quit their jobs and rent a dilapidated fixer-upper on the coast of Maine in the first place.
I understand that, for the most part, a very particular type reads nothing but the Times (see LN, above), and that a starkly realistic article on a couple who live off $17,000 while both working 2 jobs and being forced to find everything they need at the dump would leave too sour of a taste in the metropolitan mouth. So the self-imposed, trust-funder version is highlighted instead – because we all need to admire the $125 antique french lace slip cover they draped over the couch (oh, how they scrimped and saved!). But at what point are the “haves” of this country going to acknowledge the “have-nots” as less of a lifestyle they can enjoy slumming in once in a while and more of an unfortunate reality that is part of the planet upon which they also live? A much more socially conscious article could have been created here, but instead we were insulted with a fluff piece more interested in interior design than the quality of life available to most in this country.
*On a more green(ish) note: The DVD extras for Away We Go included an interesting, behind-the-scenes segment showing how the entire film crew went “green” during production, with everything from hybrid vehicles to compostable plates. It’s nice to see the movie industry scaling back on their carbon footprint, but I assume that anyone watching Away We Go would be of the indie variety and most likely in possession of a Kleen Kanteen© already. Let’s get the crew of the next multi-billion dollar superhero movie to follow suit and put their story in the extras of that DVD – now that would be a target audience worth preaching to.
Maggie Gyllenhaal photo from TV Guide