Añejo Mockingbird

Used to be this place was mostly about music and pop culture, but it's slowly morphed into a launching pad for finding our foster greyhounds new homes. So be it. We love the hounds and are more than happy to use our modest little blog page to reach out and snag some attention for these greyt dogs... Oh, we'll still post the occasional odd music review or rant at the state of the Redskins from time to time, but they'll hafta take a back seat to the dogs 'til further notice

Location: Pennsylvania, United States

Music geek who appreciates everything from power-pop to indie-rock and most everything in between. I especially dig Reggae and its predecessor, Ska.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Fake Plastic Love: Lloyd Dobler -Vs- Jake Ryan

Pop culture semi-rant:
Sometimes you can't see the forest, ya know. Somethin' to do with all of those damn trees bein' there and obscuring the view. I mention this because I ran across an article in the WaPo last week that tied-in somewhat with my last post on Sixteen Candles. For that post I managed to dig up an article which expounded on the fact that the character of Jake Ryan had a fairly significant influence on women and how they viewed potential suitors through Jake Ryan-colored lenses, as it were... It was all news to me, this Jake Ryan effect. Then I read in the Post that Lloyd Dobler - Lloyd. Friggin'. Dobler. - also causes women to do the whole compare and contrast thing, too. Again, color me surprised over this Lloyd Dobler effect! There's even a D.C. area band that somehow got named after this somewhat dubious sentimentality.

Because, it turns out, for every one woman with a residual Jake Ryan thing there are maybe 100 with a persistent Lloyd Dobler fetish. Those women wrote in, too, extolling the character played by John Cusack in the 1989 movie "Say Anything": "How oblivious can you be," went a typical harangue. "Jake is plastic. Lloyd Dobler is God."

Excuse me for re-linking to an article about Jake Ryan from my last post, but it's fitting for this discussion.

"You had to believe in him," says Amy Kramer, 34, a producer for "Good Morning America" based in Washington. "The world would have been a much better place if everybody had a Jake Ryan.

Excuse me while I pretend to drive the porcelain bus, but those two quotes make me wanna puke. How in the hell did these two figures become such love-fixtures for women? It's not that I can't see an attraction to the root characters, but, come on.
Velveeta sensitivity, manufactured by Hollywood instead of Kraft, but manufactured nonetheless, is what's putting these women's hearts all aflutter. These guys are two fairy tale characters, who, coming from polar opposite directions, both manage to slay the modern day dragon: unrequited love.
Trodding a rich kid's easy path we have Jake; Jake Ryan with his keen eyes (good looks, too), discerning mind, and sensitive spirit, decides to eschew his eye-candy girlfriend for the company of the girl who's yet-to-bloom. Lloyd, with his keen eyes (puppy dog good looks, too), discerning mind and sensitive spirit, travels the path of much resistance, and eschews his meager upbringing and background to go for the eye-candy valedictorian. But somehow, both men are imbued with that fake, processed Velveeta sensibility and sensitivity that only in the rarified air of Hollywood does it even exist.
So here we have two characters from the '80s still influencing women in the '00s. The problem here, is that while women profess to love these "sensitive to women's needs" guys, they really don't. Not in real life, anyway. Sensitive guys get dropped all the time - like David Letterman chucking watermelons off the rooftop of his studio, the streets are littered with the detritus of sensitive, sensible guys who've been smashed to bits by the hands of the very women who profess to love the likes of Jake Ryan and Lloyd Dobler. This whole premise is disturbing, it's fake plastic love to celluloid heroes that generally don't exist, from women with fake plastic hearts and fake plastic souls. While I certainly understand the fairy tale wishing and dreaming of this whole charade, I'm still somewhat taken aback by the ferocity (for lack of a better word) of this meme. Thankfully, there are those women who sit on the opposing sideline.

Lloyd Dobler is annoying. He’s pretentious, for starters — the kick-boxing? The “bought, sold, or processed” speech? He’s just trying way too hard, and speaking of that, the famous scene where he holds up the boom box and “In Your Eyes” is playing…I know we’re meant to find that adorably romantic, but I think it’s creepy. He’s…stalking her. I’d have given him a pen, too. In the eye. Back off, bub.

And anyhow, isn't Lloyd Dobler a character that men are supposed to like (if not love)? As opposed to Jake Ryan, my male friends have all been Dobler-esque at one time or another. Jake Ryan had scads of money, and a friggin' Porsche, fer chrissakes! We all had 4th-hand beaters that somehow managed to run, despite the abuse we heaped upon them. In this regard, we were a collective Lloyd Dobler - underachieving, Clash-worshipping, boombox-toting, girl-crazy teens - minus the sensitivity, though.

Mike Cameron: I don't know you very well, you know, but I wanted to ask you - how'd you get Diane Court to go out with you?
Lloyd Dobler: I called her up.
Mike Cameron: But how come it worked? I mean, like, what are you?
Lloyd Dobler: I'm Lloyd Dobler.
Mike Cameron: This is great. This gives me hope! Thanks!

Lloyd Dobler could've hung with us even though we'd have never been able to bag the valedictorian. Jake Ryan? We'd have let him buy us pizza and beer, after we were through trashing his house, of course :-)

As I mentioned last time, women certainly get a different headtrip from these flicks than men do. One group sees the forest, the other group sees the trees...

Tuneage presently turning: Catch Without Arms, by Dredg. And 1965, by The Afghan Whigs.


Blogger Tim said...

One interesting corrollary is that Say Anything wasn't anywhere near a hit in the cinema. Much like Office Space, it worked its way into the popular conscious via airing on cable and word-of-mouth VHS sales.

In my thesis on the genesis of the Generation X stereotype (now a manuscript to be shopped to publishers), I noted that Lloyd Dobler was a bit of a "proto-slacker":

In Say Anything…, ... protagonist Lloyd Dobler -- played by John Cusack as a well-intended, funny and modest guy -- successfully pursues Diane Court, the attractive valedictorian of his recently graduated class. While the movie seems to imply they come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and that her future appears much brighter than his, Lloyd's sense of humor and earnestness nonetheless win over a Diane who ordinarily would seem out of his league.

Played by the affable Cusask, Lloyd represents a kind of everyman who succeeds by going against conventional wisdom; asked by another partygoer how he managed to get such a pretty, seemingly unapproachable young woman like Diane Court to attend a graduation party with him, Lloyd simply responds: "I called her up."

But Lloyd has little in the way of future prospects: He would like to become a professional kick-boxer (“The sport of the future,” he calls it) and Diane’s father believes he is a threat to his daughter’s bright future, and the expected generational conflict ensues. In a dinner set up to embarrass Lloyd, the teen rambles about his ambitions with a passage that concludes: “I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed or buy anything sold or processed or repair anything sold, bought or processed as a career.” [Jonathan] Bernstein observes: “A few years down the line and a speech like that would have made Lloyd the hit of the party, a living, breathing poster boy for generational malaise.” In the end, Diane’s father heads off to jail for embezzlement, while the young lovers prepare to fly together to London, where Diane has won an impressive fellowship.

That Dobler has somehow been enshrined in the cultural zeitgeist despite his stalkerish tendencies and the general pulp plot is kind of surprise. Actually, I can attribute it to one factor: The mastery of Cusack himself. How many actors would have made Lloyd cloying or annoying? Within the construct of the movie, we are to believe Lloyd is lucky to have Diane, but the way Cusack nails that role and creates a seminal sensitive dude, Bernstein observed that most audiences came away from the film believing Diane was lucky to have Lloyd. Very interesting.

5:15 PM  

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