Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Welcome to the world of the emotionally mature.

Thanks to my Four Things post on Friday, I've been thinking a lot about my crush on Ethan Hawke.  For most people, Reality Bites was when they first fell in love with him, but not me. My interest was first sparked in Dead Poets, but my deep unconditional love really began when I saw him portray Nando in the movie Alive. Yes, the film about the rugby players whose plane crashed in the Andes and they had to survive by eating the dead. Nando was the quiet sensitive type who emerged as the leader of the group-- and even made sure that no one ate his sister.

By the time I saw him in Reality Bites, he could do no wrong in my mind. I was only thirteen at the time and had no idea that my crush on Ethan Hawke (but maybe mostly Troy Dyer) would have a lasting (and terrible) impact on my dating life for years to come. (I wasn't the only one.  He also ruined 20 LA Wannabe, read her post here.)  I thought I was over him and then I saw Before Midnight and realized, nope-- the crush lives on. 

Here's the problem with Ethan Hawke as Troy Dyer: he represents several different very dangerous versions of the female fantasy.

#1 the best guy friend who secretly loves us.

#2 the sensitive guy with daddy issues who needs to be saved by our love.

#3 the guy who's emotionally unavailable, but finally realizes how much he needs us and shows up at our doorstep to make a heart-wrenching speech. (Basically, he's a living breathing Coldplay song, except for the fact that he's too cool to listen to Coldplay).

#4 the player who's never known what it's like to have sex with someone he loves, until he has sex with us.

#5 the musician who serenades us in a bar (So what if it's the song Add It Up by Violent Femmes?  It still counts.)

#6 the guy who's smart enough to define irony and has an outgoing voicemail message that says: "At the beep, please leave your name, number, and a brief justification for the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma, and we'll get back to you"...

#7 ...yet still manages to be super witty and funny by saying things like "I'm bursting with fruit flavor."

#8 The cocky straight dude who's totally fine with having a gay best friend.

It's funny that in the below scene Lelaina welcomes Troy to the world of the emotionally mature, because most of the guys I dated had yet to discover that world.  I kept thinking/hoping/praying that eventually when they'd land there, I'd be the girl waiting to welcome them with open arms.  If it worked for two completely fictional characters in a iconic slacker film from 1994, why couldn't it work for me?  The thing is, it actually wasn't supposed to work for those characters.  In an earlier draft of the script, Lelaina decides she doesn't want to be with Troy or Michael (Ben Stiller's character).  The studio decided to change it and just like that--- millions of teenaged girls started on a dyer relationship path.  Imagine where we'd all be if they had just stuck with the original ending?


  1. oh, yeah. you totally are! Congrats!

  2. Ugh, I always thought the Troy Dyer character was a pretentious douche who thought he was deep but was really just into spouting a bunch of Gen X cliches and pseudo hip cultural references.

    "Because Mr. Brady had AIDS."


    You know, the Ben Stiller character wasn't cool but he actually wasn't so bad. And he made Lelaina's lame, amateur video footage BETTER! That movie had all the wrong messages. Wish they'd gone with the original ending.