Monday, February 06, 2012

the burden of depth: on factory girl and some guys i sort of dated in college

Factory Girl is one of those movies I added to our Netflix queue a million years ago and felt kind of meh about when it showed up (this is why we recently downgraded our subscription—our moods change too fast for the USPS to keep up). But I also wasn’t ready to totally give up on it, so last night we watched it as AK continued to recover from food poisoning from (probably) Friday night’s veggie pho.

The movie is a biopic of Edie Sedgwick and the time she spent in the gaze of Andy Warhol and his camera. Sienna Miller is a great Edie (I say this having almost zero familiarity with the actual Edie, so take my praise with a grain of salt)—all big eyes and deep dimples, somehow both kind and carefree. Guy Pearce’s Andy is a childlike genius whose natural curiosity makes him a star and whose jealousy brings him down. When Andy and Edie slide in and out of each other’s spotlights—showering genuine love but playing stupid games—the movie is a long, glorious, tragic music video.

But then there’s Hayden Christensen as Billy Quinn, an insufferable prettyboy Bob Dylan stand-in. It was hard to figure out what was Christensen’s fault and what was the script’s and/or director’s fault. But I got the feeling the movie wanted us to see Quinn as the deep, socially-conscious, true-love boyfriend Edie might have had, if not for her glamor-girl downfalls (of which Andy is one). But Christensen’s Quinn comes across like every guy I dated or almost dated in college: obsessed with his own angst and depth, unwilling to admit he just wants to fuck a pretty (or, in my case, average-with-nice-teeth) girl for the same reasons everyone else does, and quick to put the burden of depth on the girl.

I remember how Andy—a sophomore history major, not that Andy—would admonish me when he felt like our late-night dorm conversations got too pedestrian. And how Brian didn’t commit to liking me until I wrote him an enraged letter calling him on his philosophical bullshit. Then he decided I was worthy of his intellect. As a youngster, I did a lot of smiling and laughing nervously, and I always seemed to meet the kind of guys who were drawn to that but also disdainful of it. Apparently it was up to me to prove I wasn’t a ditz. When I inevitably lost interest in the task, they usually accused me of being a lesbian. So I guess they weren’t completely clueless (although I’m still annoyed when girls think the only thing standing between them and mothering Neil Patrick Harris’ twin gaybies is his sexual orientation).

Anyway, I’m glad those days are over. I wish Edie Sedgwick had lived long enough to laugh at them in her rear view mirror too.

2 comments:

Peter Varvel said...

What is that called . . . "displacement?" When someone hangs on you the very things they are insecure about.
I suppose that it is the only way some people can get an objective view of their own shit.
I'm glad those days are over, too.

Cheryl said...

Or transference? Either way, yeah, good riddance!