What we talk about when we talk about being loved and loving ourselves and mostly other people in 2016. Ok, what I talk about, TBH.
This is not a political post or a social issue post. It’s not even a movie review even though I am writing about movies and the Millennial women in them.
It could be termed as a pontificating rant but that’s ok, because sometimes, you just have to…just have to rant to express everything your heart is feeling *cue single tear rolling down eye as I break the fourth wall and connect with y’all, my dear readers*
Let’s start with the nerdiest woman in the piece.
Her name is Vee Delmonico and she appears in NERVE – she is 18 going on 40, a high school senior living in Staten Island and an aspiring photographer who dreams of going to art school. She is a big nerdy nerd almost directly lifted from Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me (complete with skinny jeans and sweatshirts) and crushing hard on the high school jock who doesn’t know she really exists.
Vee is all of us who were invisible, unnoticed and picked on back in high school who were just waiting to get out and do something amazing, something extraordinary with the rest of our lives. Because all of life cannot be high school, right?
Well, Vee gets a chance when she becomes a player in a real life Dare Or Dare Higher game NERVE and goes on a series of escalating dares with the totally yummy, totally strange Ian starting from kissing him, alienating her two best friends, and ending with driving blindfolded through midtown Manhattan and later on a full-on shootout in the final showdown.
When Vee’s best friend tells her to leave the hunky guy who got her into this ugly predicament, Vee very calmly answers, “I got myself into this mess. And I’ll get myself out.” In short, Vee changes her personality a little at a time, grows up and ya know what? Gets the hunky guy.
Next, we meet Amy Mitchell from BAD MOMS.
She is 32, an overworked mom of two pre-teens living in a privileged, predominantly white neighborhood in suburban America. She also has a part-time Millennial job selling pretentious branded coffee to supermarkets, airlines and hotels and a boss who could be her younger brother. He is also a douchebag, which may or not be because he is younger but definitely contributes to the shitty time Amy is having in her life.
Amy’s biggest fear in life is that she is a bad mom because she can’t do enough things for her kids while holding down a part-time job that requires fulltime work hours. Then there is the cheating husband, the entitled white dude who takes two meetings and a nap and calls it a full day.
Amy’s barely holding it together when she realizes that the biggest bully in her life is not the husband, the kids or even the douchebag boss. It’s the PTA and the coterie of Mean Girl Stepford Moms who head it and who expect all other mothers to be as perfect and Stepfordy as them (baked goods shall not have wheat, milk, yeast, sugar, nuts, among other no-nos).
Amy decides to take the bull by the proverbial horns (or boobs as the case may be) and becomes PTA president, bringing about a culture of Bad Moms who are trying their level best to raise good, kind kids instead of perfect robots who go to Harvard.
Amy tells her eleven year old son, “I need you to do your homework so you don’t grow up to be an entitled white dude who expects the whole world to be handed to him in a silver platter. So you understand you have to WORK for things and not rely on your parents for everything.”
In short, Amy makes peace with who she is when she decides to not do everything and be everything to everyone, especially her children.
AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL’S Alizeh Khan steps up to the plate next.
She is twenty-something, wealthy in a ‘raees way’ and thinks nothing of charging a strange trip with a semi-stranger to daddy’s account – but only one room because it’s out of her budget. Alizeh has no discernible job which is understandable because ‘raees,’ and I wish we were all as lucky but her life choices are as bizarre as her clothes choices. She befriends a total stranger (again, making out with a total stranger is PC given what happens next), proceeds to judge everything about him from his bank account to his choice of girlfriend, talks in Bollyverse and considers herself to be almost unbearably cool.
In fact, she is so cool, so very CHILLED that we can think she is the original ice-maiden. Unfeeling and uncaring about anything except friendship, because it is safe.
Totally relatable because who hasn’t experienced such heartbreak that your body stops being and you become a living monument to dreams that were. Unfortunately, life teaches us to dream new dreams (scalable is the business term to be used) and we move on. But not Alizeh. She ping pongs between an incredibly hot DJ ex and an aspiring singer bestie over the course of the years. And, in between, she contracts cancer (no disrespect to the disease or its victims/survivors).
Alizeh’s parents are nowhere in the picture even when they probably get the chemo bills and she is like totally COOL with it. For her, her bestestest friend is her only ‘khandaan,’ the only family she wants or needs as she dies. And she treats him like complete shit.
Alizeh says of the name tattooed on her hand, like it’s a beautiful, fucked up reminder of her past – “Yeh naam meri tabaahi hai.” Continuing in the same vein, “Pyaar mein junoon hai, dosti mein sukoon hai.” And lastly, in blatant defiance of the friend who manhandled her two seconds ago, “Kya mera pyar pyar nahi agar tum mere aashiq nahi?”
In short, Alizeh is the new age Millennial who has been there, done that, smoked the dope and decided long ago to check out of feelings because it’s too damn HARD. Or so I, as a viewer, assume because there is zero explanation/defense/justification given for the way she behaves and acts.
Lastly, but the fairest of them all is ADHM’s Sabaa.
A forty-something glamazon with impeccable makeup and even more inexplicable Urdu expressions that took me a fair amount of time to decipher and laugh over. She is a poetess with one fat book out and is able to live from the proceeds of said book in splendor in Vienna. Her house is a reflection of the breathtaking beauty she is.
Sabaa handles fulsome compliments and strangers blubbering over her with equanimity. And is unapologetic about wanting to be alone, completely alone and being the object of a man’s desire, because affection is too damn hard. Sabaa has an ex-husband who poetically explains why she’s the only thing he has ever loved in his life and she is not fucking required to BE, for him to love her even though when she WAS there he probably cheated on her and messed her up so badly, she is scared to commit again. While she stands there stupefied watching this strange version of a male peeing contest occurring at an art gallery.
And because Sabaa is at least trying to be an adult she gets out of a toxic rebound relationship once she realizes things are getting out of her control. Sabaa says, “Mohabaat karna humare bas mein nahi. Par us mohabbat ka kya karna hai woh hamare bas mein hai.”
In short, Sabaa learns from her previous relationship with the philandering husband and decides to let go of the young stud who has been keeping her company while singing unchecked through the streets of Vienna (I think there are laws that prohibit this sorta thing in Europe. I could be wrong.)
The thing the tale is about
NERVE, while not the world’s greatest movie has an amazing tech-synth soundtrack and hits perfectly on the nerve of a generation of adolescents who live and die on their cell phones and pretend that being adventurous online is the same as being alive in real life with all its problems and pitfalls.
BAD MOMS made me appreciate my own mom so much more than I already do. To raise a child to have good values and to be a decent human being and not so entitled in a world that teaches material success is everything is admirable. Again, not award-worthy but the message is unmistakable.
Then we come to AE DIL HAI MUSHKIL. The movie that has resonated with Millennials in India and abroad because …because WHY?
Bollywood self-referencing, check. People roaming around aimless and clueless and having vague aspirations, check. People falling in and out of love and bed with turbo speed, check. Poking fun at olde world Bollywood, check. And not giving a shit as to what collateral damage they were causing with their behavior, double triple check.
I would like to pause for just a moment here and reiterate – A movie is telling us, just like real life, that it’s ok to fuck with people and not give a damn what we do to them. A movie that is made by a filmmaker who is known for being inspirational, aspirational, and INFLUENCING every person who knows what Bollywood stands for.
I don’t blame Karan Johar for making this movie. I truly don’t – apparently he loved someone a lot and they just wanted to be friends with him and he never got over it. And that is fine. It is. It sucks but such is life and you make lemonade if you can from the rest of the lemons handed you. Karan Johar had the means, medium, and time to sit and go through this cathartic journey the rest of us never got to go through.
But so much is troubling about the movie …so much that made me unbearably sad to think that THIS… THIS is what the average Millennial in India has become.
ADHM treats themes like love, friendship and non-linear relationships with casual indifference. The characters treat each other and themselves with damaging apathy all in the name of cool. It perpetuates an idea of true love and true friendship that did not resonate with me. (I say me because there are people who are enchanted by the idea of people hurting each other in the name of feelings!)
To think that this is what constituted for true love in this movie– couched in terms of stalking, throwing tantrums, inexplicable tears, casual sex and putting self before love…where friendship meant taking the other person for granted to such an extent you don’t tell them you’re dying.
Where people talk but no one really TALKS…and fuck no, no one listens. Is this what we Millennials do? Are we so obsessed with social media and having a good time and not really loving ourselves…ARE WE SO FUCKED UP we cannot differentiate between what passes for good love and good ol’ puppy love masquerading as something grownups might/might not do?
When did we all decide that it was OK to just coast? To just drift and not have any purpose in life, when did being an entitled white/brown/any colour dude become a thing? Why did I not get the memo? When did heartbreak boil down to throwing things around and losing all semblance and nuance of self-respect and sensibility?
You are justified in thinking I am 30 going on 99 because I don’t get it. But the sad thing is. I do get it. Treating people carelessly, concealing heartbreak in glib comments and being obsessed with pop culture, wanting everything and nothing at the same time and having no clue what life is going to do to me tomorrow. I get it. And it’s awful. I am awful.
I guess this is why I aspire to be more a Bad Mom or A Nerve Girl or even Sabaa of the drownable eyes and laughable poetry.
It’s because I know, there is a part of me that is Alizeh. Alone and drowning in my aloneness, wanting but not really wanting a way out. Ayn Rand said, “The only thing I need to learn how to bear is happiness.” And that’s who I’d like to become, slowly, gradually, day by day.
Till next time.
Author’s note: Thank you Omair Tarique of Scribbled Stories for allowing me to use one of your posts for this one. I just think, it really resonates with what I am trying to say about life and love and dealing with things because we should try and be better people.