Fake Plastic Love: Lloyd Dobler -Vs- Jake Ryan
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.