Wanna spend the summer at the beach, but worried you can’t afford it? Fortunately for you, the fabulous MALIBU SANDS BEACH CLUB is looking for a young, handsome guy to work as Social Director. You’d be perfect!
What do you do? Anything you want. And what do you want? A fabulous summer, of course.
Remember, though: summer’s not long. In fact, it may feel like you only have 132 minutes. But if you split it into six discrete 22-minute chunks and relentlessly syndicate, the memories you create at Malibu Sands should be memorable enough to merit their very own clip show. Make a miniseason of it! Accordingly, here’s an episode-by-episode breakdown on how to make the most your limited time—the totally unauthorized guide to the best summer of your life. Are you ready to stand at the edge of tomorrow… today?
Who wouldn’t! Though technically situated in the “bad” part of the quaint New England town of Shadyside, Fear Street is practically synonymous with gorgeous fixer-uppers. Due to the high incidence of coldblooded murder in the area, the run-down mansions of Fear Street go for rock-bottom prices, and now is the time to get in.
Of course, there are a few things you should know before moving out to this spooky terrain. Fortunately, the potential perils of living on such a notorious block have been thoroughly documented by R.L. Stine, in a famed series of young adult novels. In addition to providing plenty of practical, prescriptive guidance for high schoolers, Stine’s Fear Street series also functions as a veritable what’s what of scary no-no’s for the potential Fear Street resident.
So before you make the big move, then, make sure you’ll be able to abide by the governing Fear Street code of conduct, lest your life become fraught with terror. Follow these ten simple rules, and your new home will be a dream/not nightmare home!
You’ve heard that Nabokov is clever and insightful. If you live in Williamsburg, you’re likely to find copies of his novels literally strewn about on the street. Plus, the boy you like is obsessed. But where to begin? No worries! Nabokov’s novels run the gamut of human experience, and choosing a starting place is simply a matter of assessing who you are and what’s happening in your life. Accordingly, here’s a brief rundown of his novels, along with how each one might relate to you.
Premise: A Russian émigré describes his life in a Berlin boarding house while plotting to reunite with a long-lost love.
Perfect for… aspiring writers. As Nabokov demonstrates, it’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll have perfected your craft by age 27. That said, given the comparative states of your writings at age 27, you will never be Nabokov. That’s fine! Really.
Premise: Darkly comedic tale of a love triangle and a murder plot. Irony abounds!
Perfect for… the budget-conscious reader. This far and away the Nabokov you’re most likely to encounter in a used book store. This is likely because Nabokov explores this type of plot many, many times over the course of his career, and this is the goofiest version (e.g. there’s a subplot about robot mannequins). It’s still better than anything you will ever write. That’s fine! Really.
Premise: A misfit child discovers that he’s a chess genius. He ends up devoting his entire life to the game and ultimately becomes an international superstar. However, he learns that his chess prowess doesn’t translate well to the real world, and when his support network fades, he lacks the skills to cope.
Perfect for… when you’ve OD’d on Lady Gaga and need an anecdote to her “idiosyncrasy conquers all” philosophy. Doubles as a grieving aid whenever a young celebrity dies.
Ready to go to the club and meet some guys? Not so fast! Did you remember to bring your “club” personality? Remember: clubs are loud. A successful night out requires a special kind of personality—a personality noisy enough to compete with a bumping bass.
As with “pop star” personalities, it doesn’t matter what exactly your “club” personality is. It mostly just matters that you have one. Thus, if you’re worried your personality is lacking volume, feel free to borrow heavily from the “pop star” files. Let’s go through the most popular variations, and see which one fits you best.
Your personality: You’re the hottest person at the club, and you are a total mess. You have a love for theatrics, and you might even take off your shirt. When questioned about this, though, you will act confused, saying something like, “Oh my god, I’m so embarrassed! My shirt must’ve ripped off! I have no idea how this happened.” You tell people you’re a virgin, even as you take out your phone to troll Grindr.
Success rate:Very high. Your erratic behavior and mesmerizing beauty will garner the attention of the entire club. Even as you gain weight and your behavior begins to suggest manic depression, people love you and will root for you to succeed. The world is under your thumb.
Your personality: You seem “in the know” about everything, get free drinks at the bar, and coerce the DJ into playing a mix your friend made. You brag about how you found your outfit on the street, and you pause in the middle of a screaming fight about Syria to text someone at another club. You’re convinced that everyone’s out to get you, and once drunk, you start bashing your friend’s mix for seemingly no reason. When “Run the World” comes on, you mention that you did it first. But nobody really liked “Run the World,” so it’s sort of a bust.
Success rate: Medium/high. Your lack of a filter comes off as incredibly fun, and people assume you are a genius. That said, some find you terrifying. Also, to be fair, it really does seem like a lot of people are out to get you.
Your personality: Fake lesbian. You have this “rebel” thing going on, but it’s unclear what exactly you’re rebelling against or if you even care. In any event, you have a nice voice.
Success rate: Medium/low. Technically, you do ok, but nobody ever remembers.
Your personality: You brought your guitar and just want to sing about horses and fairy tales, but everyone’s being mean to you. The bouncer won’t let you in because you’re clearly underage, and you’re crying outside.
Success rate: You’ve already slept with every hot guy in there anyway. You meet someone on the corner, who offers to split a cab with you back to Manhattan. You begin dating somewhere around the Williamsburg bridge, but you’re definitely over him by the time you get back home. You write an incoherent Tumblr post that night about how much he disappointed you and wake up to find that it’s gotten 3500 reblogs.
Your personality: Every time some guy tries to talk to you, you talk about how much better you are than everyone else. You spend a lot of time bragging about your job, but it seems really boring and like maybe you’re not even very good at it. You’re weirdly mean.
Success rate: You haven’t hooked up in years, but it’s because you “refuse to settle.”
Your personality: You refer to your body as a “sexpocalypse,” but it sounds like poetry coming from your mouth. Your cadence makes even the most ridiculous sentiments sound like fun. The bouncer won’t let you in because you’re too wasted, but you sneak in through the back. You end up breaking a window, and you’re bleeding everywhere. You laugh really loudly and grab a drink. A lot of people hate you for some reason, but you have a lot of friends and don’t stress about it.
Success rate: You’ve actually been in a serious relationship for that past five years. That doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of your Saturdays, though. All of your friends end up hooking up, and you pass out in a cab on the way home.
* * *
While these are the most basic types, other types include the “Robyn” (foreign hipster, does well in select locations), the “Perry”/”Minaj” (human cartoon, does dependable business in the Midwest), the “Gaga” (pseudo-intellectual, doesn’t believe in love), and the “Rihanna” (won’t shut up about her ex).
You’ll certainly have to be realistic about which type you choose. Nobody wants to be a P!nk—but few can pull off Britney or M.I.A., and there’s no shame in that. And P!nk is certainly better than nothing. The club, after all, does not take kindly to non-personalities like “normal” or “relatable.” You don’t want to end up like poor Mandy Moore:
The ideal club personality needs to be broadcast at a volume of 11, and there’s no point in even going out if you can’t commit to that.
As P!nk would say: never be anything but loud. You’re probably a P!nk, I guess. Good luck and have fun!
If you follow music, Fiona Apple was a huge deal this year. Not only did she emerge out of nowhere to deliver an bona fide classic album, but she supplemented the new album with a tour that made even her most subdued piano ballads seem urgent. On top of this, there was a meta-element to the story that started getting a lot of attention: that Fiona Apple was suddenly “cool.”
Prior to this latest album, Fiona Apple had never been considered cool, or even particularly good. Even when the unreleased Extraordinary Machine demos became an underground phenomenon in 2005, the story was always less about the actual quality of the music than the dedication of the fans who ultimately pushed Sony to give it an official release. When this latest album came out, though, the focus was different. Critics were suddenly heralding the quality of her whole catalog, and even long-mocked Fiona fiascoes like her VMA anti-acceptance speech were getting listed as embodiments of the artist’s steadfast integrity.
All of which led to an alarming realization for me: I am a terrible, trend-aping music snob.
I was 14 in 1999 when Fiona Apple released When the Pawn. I listened to it maybe a thousand times over the span of a couple of months, and it was absolutely the turning point where I started caring so deeply about music. I remember buying an import of the “Paper Bag” single so I could watch the music videos for the album that MTV never played. I remember purchasing the DVD of her then-boyfriend’s new movie Magnolia just to watch a feature-length making-of that featured footage of Fiona smoking in the background. I was pretty obsessed.
This turned out to be pretty embarrassing, though, when I got more into music and discovered that, in most circles, the entire career of Fiona Apple was a non-event. The more I encountered Fiona Apple indifference, the more I began to invent reasons for why this was. Maybe her music’s too conventional. Her lyrics are overly wordy, self-serious, and outdatedly “confessional,” and I related to them because I was an immature, self-serious teenager. Maybe it stopped being relevant to be a singer-songwriter at all after the 70’s. Or maybe there are just too many other musicians who have done what she did but better. As of this January, I hadn’t listened to Fiona in years.
But turns out I was just being an asshole. When the Pawn is a masterpiece. The reason it hasn’t been charting high on best-of-90’s lists is simply because rock criticism tends to be male-centric. The whole Lillith Fair boom led her to get grouped in with people like Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow, and hip music fans weren’t really paying attention. End of story. So when Fiona Apple reemerged this year after six years of silence, I met the overall response with mixed feelings. I was happy to see so many friends and music critics “come out” as hardcore Fiona fans—I want her to keep making music, and I’m hoping the highly positive media response will encourage her to be more prolific. But I also felt like such an poseur for purporting to love music so much but not having trusted my instincts with her. It made me feel like the very worst stereotype of a hipster.
That said, it taught me something important, and maybe obvious to most: you have to have the conviction in the things you love. If you love something, love it. It’s important to understand why you love what you love—it never good to blindly worship things. But overall, there’s no point in even consuming art if you don’t have the gall to actually enjoy it. And you should really be enjoying the things you love as much as you possibly can. It’ll shape who you are and what you care about.
With this in mind, I’ve resolved to stop watering down my praise of the following five things. I love these things. They make life feel fresh and vital.
1) David Foster Wallace
Why It’s Embarrassing: Like many, I got on the David Foster Wallace boat after his suicide, which is decidedly unhip. And at this point, so much has been said of David Foster Wallace’s appeal that it’s become more common to dismiss him altogether as a trendy reference point for people who don’t bother to really keep up with contemporary fiction. This is particularly so in light of various recent anecdotes about his personal life that have revealed him to be something less than humble genius that his writing suggests him to be.
Why That Doesn’t Matter: I’ve read thousands of writers, and nobody else has inspired me as much as David Foster Wallace’s. His fiction is clever and insightful, and I can hardly read a single page of his non-fiction work without generating a huge list of new things I’m interested in learning about. And, of course, his style: his prose is exciting and readable in a way that no other contemporary writer can claim. He manages to be funny, colloquial, and digressive while almost never sounding silly, dismissive, or boring. He wows me with the possibilities of written communication and reminds me why anybody bothers to write in the first place.
2) Liz Phair
Why It’s Embarrassing: It’s not really cool to like 90’s indie rock these days. If you’re going to profess to liking a 90’s band at all, it’s supposed be something steadfastly cheesy like N*sync or Pearl Jam. Similarly, with the notable exceptions of Loveless and Radiohead, the indie rock go-to’s are either cutting edge contemporary bands or the stuff that came out between 1977 and 1990—which was kind of the “experiment” phase for a ton of new genres. As for Liz Phair herself, it’s been well over a decade since she’s recorded a great song. In the meantime, she’s done a lot that’s hurt her standing in indie circles: she attempted to release a mainstream pop record but it wasn’t very good, and her subsequent output has all seemed like a footnote to that album—either valuing unfiltered earnestness over songcraft, or shooting for outright novelty. For my money, the best thing she’s done in the past few years is a soundtrack-commissioned track about Nancy Drew (link).
Why That Doesn’t Matter:Exile in Guyville, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg are my three favorite albums of all time, and it’s probably a conspiracy against all womankind that they don’t regularly top “best ever” lists. I mean, Whip-Smart and whitechocolatespaceegg aren’t even traditionally considered good—but who cares? If there are people out there who legitimately don’t enjoy “Polyester Bride,” then I sorta feel bad for them:
Liz Phair’s first three albums cover innumerable styles but feel effortless and cohesive. Her lyrics are funny, impassioned, and relatable. The experience of listening to Whip-Smart is like getting a stereophonic suntan—but without all the skin cancer. And she has a mountain of b-sides and unreleased tracks from this period, nearly all of which are as great as anything that appears on the albums:
Hell, even this random theme song she did was pretty awesome. She had a great streak going, even if critical consensus remains mixed on it. I have my theories as to why Phair’s style didn’t translate on her attempted pop crossover, but for now, I’m pretty happy with her 90’s output.
3) Charlie Kaufman
Why It’s Embarrassing: Charlie Kaufman’s oeuvre is easy to pigeonhole: his characters all exist in a universe of postmodern conceits that force them to reflect objectively on their own lives. Being John Malkovich, Adapation., Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York are pretty much variations on a theme, and this kind of cleverness can feel tired and pretentious when it’s not successful.
Why That Doesn’t Matter: Kaufman’s films have only gotten increasingly more successful. While he works heavily with metafictional ideas, he uses them them as a means to an ends, to explore the whole gamut of human emotion. His ability to maintain the right balance is particularly impressive. Synecdoche, for instance, is a powerful rumination on the nature of memory and the transience of human existence, but it’s also very funny and packed with memorable characters. When he gets this balance wrong, Kaufman’s writing can feel closed-off and alienating. This is maybe why Adaptation, with its plot about a writer writing the movie he’s in, felt unsatisfying—as did Human Nature and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. But when Kaufman gets it right, he really gets it right. I heard that his most recent movie ended up falling through just before shooting because of financial problems. Can someone please fix this?
Why It’s Embarrassing: Felicity is my very favorite tv show, but it isn’t a great show by most traditional measures. It’s full of cliched storylines, and it’s frequently boring. To the extent that it’s “hip” to like Felicity, it feeds into kind of this trend where people talk about how nostalgic they feel about the late 90’s. My obsession with the late 90’s is, frankly, embarrassing.
Why That Doesn’t Matter: What’s special about this show little to do with 90’s nostalgia. When I watched Felicity for the first time this past year, a lot of the 90’s had literally been removed from the show: due to licensing issues, the version that streams on Netflix replaces the show’s original music with ambient filler. And despite the fact that this was on the midriff-loving WB, the fashion tends to be pretty decade-neutral. If the show tugs at your heartstrings, then, it’s not because of the 90’s; it’s because Felicity is a genuinely great character. Though Felicity, of course, lives in a world where exactly 22 notable things happen to her every year and where her life is occasionally altered by magic, the show had a surprising integrity when it came to keeping its characters consistent. The central conflicts in Felicity’s life held steady over the show’s four seasons, and they’re pretty mundane: what should she do with her life, and who should she date? She’s pretty and smart, but she’s very socially awkward. The vast majority of the drama is mined from her having to deal with common problems that arise when one is in college. She scares guys off by being too intense, and she wants to study art over pre-med—even though it’s made abundantly clear that she’s not particularly talented at the former. She’s frequently shown making mistakes and having to deal with the consequences. Which doesn’t seem remarkable, I know, but it’s oddly refreshing. There aren’t a lot of shows that are willing to make you so actively upset at its central character in the name of verisimilitude. And ultimately it paid off: Felicity’s my favorite show. So I guess I’ve decided not to feel guilty about spending 84 hours of my life with it—it’s not exactly War & Peace but I sure do remember it a lot more vividly.
Why It’s Embarrassing: Kate Riley is not a famous person, nor is she at all aspiring to be. She had a moment early last year where she’s was regularly getting hundreds of retweets, but the attention seemingly prompted her to quit Twitter altogether. It’s really easy to get sucked into her backlog for long amounts of time, but, judging by the decreasing “fave” counts as you go back, I get the impression that I’m the only person this happens to. Consequently, I know way more about this total stranger than is probably acceptable, and it makes me feel like a creep.
Why That Doesn’t Matter: The bubblebathos twitter feed is literally the funniest thing I’ve ever encountered. She logged in about 2000 tweets total, and at least half of them are worth memorizing and quoting endlessly. I’ve followed a lot of twitter comedians, but bubblebathos had this dark, hip thing going on that was very distinctly her own:
And the topics that she parodied were refreshingly diverse. Earlier this year when Paul Ryan talked about how Rage Against the Machine was his favorite band, this one immediately popped into my mind:
And, jesus, this:
This single twitter feed has probably brought me more joy than the rest of the internet combined. Read this feed! Make me feel less weird about it, please.
There’s something weird and fractured about the internet, where there’s simply so much stuff that it sometimes feels impossible to commit to loving any one single thing. These things, though, are things I definitely do love, and I guess the point of this is that I feel comfortable to committing myself to them. That digging through Liz Phair b-sides isn’t a pointless pursuit. That rereading David Foster Wallace is a good thing. And that watching some less-than-perfect show or browsing through a defunct twitter feed can be worthwhile if it makes you feel excited to be alive. Because, really, that’s what art’s there for.
Did your boyfriend dump you? Are you certain you’ll die alone? Well, here’s an idea: cats!
God, CATS. Can’t you hear them calling? Does the hallucinated sound of meowing fill your sleepless nights? Sounds to me like you’ve already achieved PHASE ONE of cat ownership. Good going! Go out and get a cat! You’re a cat owner at heart.
And go ahead and cut off your internet while you’re at it. After all, you only used it to stalk your ex and watch cat videos, and here you have a real live cat sitting in front of you. Spend the extra cash on cat food! Your cat deserves wet food. Why adopt a pet if you can’t commit? You’re prioritizing, and this is called PHASE TWO.
But wait: how will you self-actualize without social media? Maybe you should go old-school and take in a movie. No cat lover, after all, is complete without multiple viewings of 1982’s Cat People. If for some reason you haven’t seen Cat People yet, it’s basically an “erotic” adaptation of Put Me in the Zoo with Natassja Kinski in the lead role:
In the movie, Kinski plays virgin who’s obsessed with incest but afraid that intercourse may transform her into a cat. This is what’s known as insanity, and it’s likely caused by toxoplasmosis—a brain parasite passed from cats to pet owners that was recently the subject of a hyperbolic Atlantic expose. If you can relate to Kinski’s kinks, congratulations! You have achieved PHASE THREE.
Having totally lost your mind, you—like the the protagonist of Cat People—will live for adventure. Your brother, played by Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell, will relish your obsession with speeches like the following:
Save me.Only you can stop this killing.You’ve got to make love with me, as brother and sister… . We can live together as mates, such as our parents did.You do know that they were brother and sister, don’t you?Oh, yes.
However, try to get a grip on yourself before things truly get out of hand. Consider logistics: how, exactly, are you going to manage your final transformation? While Kinski can rely on her stellar inbreeding to make her feline transformations, your own transformation may require more work. Hence, PHASE FOUR: dress up like Catwoman.
Now if you’re a world class actress like Julie Newmar, you may be able to actually get paid to portray Catwoman. But be realistic: you’re a little D-list at this point, and you’re probably better off making the outfit yourself. This is what’s known as the “Sean Young”:
People will make fun of you relentlessly—so much so that you become a Trivial Pursuit question—but who cares about them anyway? Before you were a cat person, nobody even knew your name! You are the true Catwoman, you just know it. If you have the funds, consider getting plastic surgery to seal the deal:
By now you have hundreds of cats. You’re neck-deep in PHASE FIVE. Unlike other mammals, cats are spontaneously generated out of sheer human despair, and the situation has taken a dark toll on your bank balance. Name your favorite of the bunch Katniss, and set up an epic Hunger Games-like scenario in which the various tribes have to battle to the death for your care and affection. You’re receiving complaints from the neighbors, and the comments sections of your YouTube videos are full of nasty replies from so-called animal rights activists. You make your daily trip to the library’s public computers to respond to “the hate,” but Katniss escapes from your purse and kills a fellow homeless person. You’ve been banned from the library, but you’re proud of your little Katniss. She’s strong. You love her. Do cats experience love? Wouldn’t you like to know! She wouldn’t leave you lonely, you’re sure of it.
At some point, these songs were reasonably popular. If people still listened to the radio, maybe I’d still be hearing them everywhere. As is, though, they now exist exclusively to emphasize one fact: I am in line. Maybe I’m at the grocery store. Maybe I’m at the airport food court. Maybe I am getting a bagel. Whatever the case, these are the songs that always seem to be there to soundtrack the mundanity.
“Better in Time” by Leona Lewis
I propose that nobody has ever actively attempted to listen to a Leona Lewis song. This one’s sort of a bland rip off of “No One” by Alicia Keys but with better vocals. Leona Lewis’s other hit song, “Bleeding Love,” was actually pretty great, though. What happened to “Bleeding Love”? It’s like bagel shops across America switched to “Better in Time” at some point to make their playlists seem up-to-date and then forgot to remove it once Leona Lewis dropped off the face of the earth. Or maybe it was an imagery problem. In any event, the lyrics to this one are about the passage of time, so I guess it makes a lot of sense as a “waiting in line” jam.
“Big Girls Don’t Cry (Personal)” by Fergie
This song opens with Fergie saying that she needs “to be with [her]self and center / clarity, peace, serenity.” Which I can relate to! Especially when I’m buying kale. I am alone and know what I want. The more I listen to this song the more I think maybe it’s also about kicking meth. More people should write songs about this! Meth is huge. I definitely like this one more than I should. It actually makes me want to stand in line, if only because that is obviously the only place where it’s acceptable to listen to a ballad by Fergie.
“Halo” by Beyoncé
This song is unkillable. It came out in 2009, and I’ve heard it with exactly the same level of regularity ever since. The Christian imagery and creepy idolatry used to bother me, but now it’s more the shrillness I have trouble dealing with. Beyoncé, I love you, and I’m happy you can hit those notes, but please stop screaming at me. Are you mad at me? Whatever happened to that one that come out right before this in which you properly utilized the subjunctive? That one was heartbreaking and cathartic! I like that one!
“Already Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
This is literally the same song as “Halo” but with different lyrics. Like, true story: the guy sold the music to both Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé, and they wrote different lyrics. The Beyoncé one was first-to-market and so it was a bigger hit, but I imagine the interchangeability of the two on grocery store playlists means that the score has pretty much evened out. The Clarkson one is better, I guess, since it has the notable merit of not including a barely-in-range Beyoncé. And its lyrics are a little more relatable: after all, lots of things are already gone. The guy who chose the register next to me: already gone! The battery on my phone: already gone!
“Upside-Down” by Jack Johnson
Total line-waiting classic. My understanding of Jack Johnson is that people were into him because he was large, handsome, and soft-voiced. Great! Also, this song was written for a Curious George movie, which is adorable. I didn’t see Curious George, but I did see Monkey Trouble around 20 times. Monkey Trouble’s really cute! Every time I hear this song, I think of that scene were Thora Birch’s little capuchin robs the grocery store and gets her into trouble. Remember: the line may be long, but you definitely have to pay for those groceries.
“Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele
The most recent addition to the essential “line waiting” collection. Adele is deeply unhatable, even if I can’t really imagine listening to “Set Fire to the Rain” on purpose. The titular line to this one is so incomprehensible that I assume it must have been a last-minute change. I set fire to your house? Your cat? Tell us what you really want to burn, Adele. And that voice! OK, I’ve paid, bye now.
* * *
There are, of course, plenty of other songs tailor-made for the line-waiting experience. I assume this is the context in which people most often encounter Train, ambient Jason Mraz noise, and “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer. The thing to remember, in any event, is that ignoring them will not make them go away. One time Fergie recorded a ballad, and you just have to deal with it. Clarity, peace, serenity. You’ll be on your way shortly.
At this point, few can claim immunity to the occasional Netflix k-hole. However, anybody who was in junior high in 1999 has a particularly vicious monster to deal with. She goes by the name of She’s All That, and woe is the twentysomething homosexual who tries to fight her.
There are a few ways to make a teen movie classic.First, you could make a movie that’s actually good.But did you know that the endlessly quotable Heathers flat-out bombed upon its initial theatrical release, failing to recoup even half its $3 million budget?And that while Clueless certainly did respectable business, She’s All That did more with less?That’s because She’s All That sidestepped quality altogether in favor of relentlessly chasing trends and delivering a savvy marketing blitz. The product of Bob and Harvey Weinstein at their peak, I imagine a long series of meetings in which the terms “millennial,” “teen,” and “zeitgeist” were thrown around a lot. She’s All That was clearly intended less as a “film” than as a pop-culture reference point. Even watching the film, it’s difficult to process it as a film—which is to say that it’s a terrible film.But it paid off: She’s All That arrived at precisely the right moment, grossing ten times its $10 million production budget.
It’s a problem every gay man faces at some point: “I love Kate Bush, but her music is profoundly unrelatable. What can I do?”
Don’t despair! The only real limits to relating to Kate Bush are your imagination and your steadfast determination to make everything about you. Fortunately, a healthy dose of creative solipsism comes bundled in with any valid gay card—so you can stop being such a drama queen. Let’s just go through a few case studies:
The song: “This Woman’s Work”
The premise: Upon hearing that his wife may die in childbirth, a man reflects on their life together.
The problem: Your significant other does not have a uterus, and your female friends are years off from starting a family.
The solution: Turn it into a late-night club anthem. Replace the wife with your sleepy friends, and invoke lyrics like “I know you have a little life in you yet” as a rallying cry to stay out for at least another hour. Replace impending death (“Oh god, make it go away”) with impending hangovers. Done!
The song: “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”
The premise: Kate dreams of “a deal with God” in which men and women could switch places and see how the other side lives.
The problem: You are an atheist. Also, you have no interest in adding the everyday misogyny that concerns Kate to your already-overwhelming list of problems.
The solution: This is basically just Freaky Friday, and who hasn’t dreamed of a good Freaky Friday? Change “God” to “Mark Waters,” director of the 2003 Freaky Friday adaptation starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. Though he’s been floundering for the past few years, Mark Waters is basically a “god” of gay-appropriated cinema, having also directed Mean Girls and the Parker Posey-led film version of House of Yes. Consider changing places with an ex-boyfriend, or maybe Anderson Cooper.
The song: “Hounds of Love”
The premise: Kate learns to let go of the “walls” she’s built and give herself uninhibited to the throes of love.
The problem: Giving yourself uninhibited to the throes of love has never been an issue and, in fact, has been responsible for nearly every substantive problem in your life.
The solution: Interpret the lyrics literally, and it becomes a delightful romp about being chased through the woods by wild dogs. Who can’t relate to that?
The song: “Cloudbusting”
The premise: Kate details how her hope for the future has her believing anything is possible.
The problem: Any substantive hope you had for the future died years ago. You’re resigned to the fact that your dreams are impossible.
The solution: This is perfect for when you’ve ordered take-out, and you haven’t had time to eat all day. You’re only a few blocks from your apartment with food in hand—just saying it could even make it happen!
The song: “Wuthering Heights”
The premise:Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. The ghost of Catherine Earnshaw has come back to steal the soul of the still-living Heathcliff, a man she could never marry in life because of his class and poor education. This is pretty much “classic” Cathy, and she and Heathcliff’s relationship is so deeply unpleasant that it’s difficult to read Wuthering Heights as anything other than a subversive anti-romance.
The problem: Jesus, that music video. There are actually two music videos for “Wuthering Heights”—both of which involve interpretive dance—and choosing just one was an exercise in restraint that I refuse to actually follow through on. So here’s the other one:
We have to make this work.
The solution: Heathcliff is Heath Ledger, and this is your eulogy for a man destroyed by his own handsomeness. Traditionally, a eulogy should not involve interpretive dance or the Brontës, but Heath Ledger was an entertainer, and their funerals are different.
The song: “Love & Anger”
The premise: Kate reflects on a failed relationship, but she ultimately concludes that “all the love and the anger” has become inseparable from who she is as a person—and that she couldn’t bear to live without it.
The problem: Frankly, this relationship sounds emotionally abusive, and both parties would likely be better off moving on with their lives rather than continuing to give credence to its multifarious emotional evocations.
The solution: Apply this as straightforwardly as possible to all relationships.
Hope this helps! Of course, every Kate Bush song is a precious snowflake, and like snowflakes, you’ll have to melt them all if you want them to look the same. Should you continue to experience difficulties, feel free to consult Rich Juzwiak’s Kate Bush GIF wall (link)—it should pretty much free you of the need to assign meaning to anything at all.