Nov 16 2009

Love, Indie Comedies, and Generation Y: Part 3


Instant messaging, pre-Internet

LS2FG writer Benn Hadland concludes his presumptuous analysis on Generation Y and their (our) dating habits, and how this is reflected in today’s Indie-Romance films. For those new to the article, part 1 can be found here, and part 2 can be found here

Whereas Juno and (500) Days of Summer dealt with complicated, circumstantial definitions concerning relationships, films like Paper Heart and The 40 Year Old Virgin take a look at those who keep their distance from romantic entanglements altogether. Paper Heart is about Charlyne Yi (playing herself), who is very apprehensive about the concept of love, and decides to take a film crew on the road as she asks others what their experiences with love are. Meanwhile, Charlene finds herself involved with Michael Cera (who also plays himself), yet is hesitant to open herself up to him due to her own fears and awkward sensibilities.

The Forty Year Old Virgin follows Andy, who has given up on ever finding love, or losing his virginity, and finds solace in isolation and adolescent hobbies, such as video games, action figures and framing Asia posters. Eventually, Andy’s friends try to get him laid, and Andy embarks on his first real relationship, but the stresses of intimacy, both emotional and physical, prove to be more daunting than Andy or his friends really anticipated.

Although these films are different in several ways, they have one thing in common. Both films deal with a fear in intimacy. In Yi’s case, she is so apprehensive about love that she shuns her own developing feelings about Cera, and Andy has grown so complacent with his own untouched and unsullied existence that the thought of a relationship makes him question his own experience (or lack thereof) and his ability to go the distance emotionally, as well as physically.

There are a lot of people out there who are sincerely afraid to make a connection with another human being, though I’ve never understood why that is myself. I’ve never seen the harm in finding a new lover, just like I’ve never seen the harm in making a new friend or acquaintance. On the other hand, I spoke to a female friend of mine about why people, girls in particular (sorry ladies), are so resilient about forming a relationship. Why just the house party hook-ups, the late night, last call one night stands? She told me that, due to living in a world of increasing divorce rates and fickle boyfriends and girlfriends, it is not worth the risk anymore.

I can understand the divorce rate. Though my parents are part of a dwindling minority of parents still together after countless years of marriage, looking around to see marriages breaking apart right and left is frightening. Why walk down the aisle when your husband will leave you for the single life after fifteen-plus years of matrimony? Why spend your life savings on a diamond ring when your wife will bail out on you with a pair of new breasts and a yoga instructor named Ellis? Maybe, due to growing up in a world of faulty relationships, we will know what to look (and look out) for when we find ourselves falling for somebody. Or, maybe we’re just going to fuck anything we can find and, as a result, fuck ourselves over entirely.

The fickleness thing bothers me, however. Could it be the byproduct of those affected by the divorce rate? Probably, but it sounds like too many using this as an excuse to justify there own fears of intimacy. Forming something with another person takes some work and sacrifice, two words people dislike nowadays more than ever. Then again, love is, above all else, a gamble; going on dates, getting close to someone… these things are nothing different than spinning a wheel or rolling the dice. Charlyne Yi of Paper Heart knows this, which is why she dons a mask of cynicism to deal (or not, rather) with the uncertainty of forming a relationship. Will your current relationship end at some point? More than likely, I’m afraid, but that doesn’t mean you have to shy away from one anyway. It may not last until the end of time, but a relationship can offer one so much to learn from and hold on to during the affair and after it ends. Do you not make friends, even when you know you’ll all move on to different places in the future? Do you not read a book or watch a film even when you know the story will end? Do you refuse to get out of bed, even when you know you’ll end up back there at the day’s end? Of course not; go out with someone, give it a shot, see where it goes. If it ends up bad, at least you learned to recognize a bad relationship and when walk away, which will serve you well in the future. If it ended after a good, long run, you can walk away having learned how to maintain a good relationship, and there is nothing wrong with leaving a relationship behind with a few good memories in tow.

Recently, I’ve heard the term “experience” uttered often from the grapevine of the dating world, yet the definition of this term has apparently changed at some point; I don’t know when, I have yet to receive the memo. The way I understood it was “experience” meant gaining confidence over your actions, learning what you liked and didn’t like in another person, learning what you wanted out of a relationship and, most importantly, discovering who you are whilst involved in a romantic duo. Are you clingy? Do you like your space? How much? When do I try for the first kiss? Should I hold her hand now, or on the next date? Should I really tell her I like her hair down when she’s wearing it up (no)? You may not know these things now, or you may have not even thought of these things as an issue, but that’s experience for you: it’s knowing now what you don’t know then.

Today, the term “experience” means sexual know-how, which hinders a number of people, including The Forty Year Old Virgin’s Andy, from engaging in a relationship out of fear that they’re not good enough. Contrary to popular belief, sex is not like World of Warcraft; XP points do not guarantee greater skill or power.


Granted, practice makes perfect, and sex isn’t much different. If you want to nail down the moves and technique of any pastime, the only way to know how to do it is to do it. Yet sex isn’t a numbers game so much as it is a matter of chemistry; it’s about locking in onto another individual. Reading body language, being clear about what you want, locking into particular movements… I’ve known people to pick up on these methods very quickly. I’ve also known people with a long list of exploits and conquests who just lie there like a cold fish and take it, completely unable to communicate with their partner. Anyone with real experience will tell you that sex is way better when you like the person with, mostly because your more apt to concentrate on that person and form a connection emotionally that will manifest itself physically, suggesting the experience people claim to seek isn’t the experience they really crave.

“Fear,” novelist Frank Hebert once wrote, “is the mind killer”. This saying, despite its original context, applies to the same fear Generation Y has towards sincere, human interaction. You can tell that we have grown up with the luxury of social networking, email, AIM and text messaging; these things allow us to connect with each other without really connecting. It is way easier to ask someone out, tell someone you love them, or break up with them through cyberspace than it is to do so in person. Someone I knew a long time ago told me the most important thing for a person to be is to be open and honest. For one reason or another, this appears to be easier said than done for this generation. Many can speculate as to why this is, but my money is on the fear of hurt and humiliation, the fear allowing someone to get that close, the fear of taking that chance and taking what you want, consequences be damned. If you want something, if you want someone, you got to be willing to get blown to shit to get it, which means logging off the computer and getting out there; no filter, no masks, no pre-written song and dance. These indie romance films have us figured out; we are too afraid to get up close and personal with someone who isn’t a sure thing. Yet if that’s what we’re looking for, a sure thing, than the joke is on us. There is no such thing.


9 Responses to “Love, Indie Comedies, and Generation Y: Part 3”

  • Lost And Found Says:

    The second sentence after “(also play herself, and that’s not a typo)”, On your “review” about Paper Heart became absolutely about “you” and not the movie, you need to keep your focus on the target, this will be my first and last “read” and “post” to you. This is 100% bad writing (and that’s not a typo)

  • Benn Hadland Says:

    First and foremost, you are right about my typo and I have since corrected it. However, I never said this was a review of Paper Heart, nor was it a review on any of the films I discussed. If you had read the intro to, or the two previous installments to this particular article, you would have, of course, noticed that I was conducting a sociological observation on the relationship between these films and an aspect of real life, hence the title, “Love, Indie Comedies, and Generation Y”. Although I appreciate the heads up on my typo, please read up on what it is you’re actually reading. Golly, such wrath due to a simple typo in a 1200 page article? Or did I hit a nerve? We may never know, though we certainly don’t care.
    Thanks For Writing!!

  • Ann Says:

    There is nothing wrong with the article.It maybe that Lost and Found does not enjoy the way your voice sounds when describing your observation on the film, but truly thats not your problem. If one person thinks Paper Heart is “the shit” and deserves to be emphasised in a way that does not include negative commentary then they should go to the crappy review websites (that includes sappy love films like, New York, I Love You and the tween crowd from Twilight) and consolidate their opinions there.

  • Nate Says:

    I actually found the ‘typo’ to be rather poignant as there has been a role reversal in gen-y and indie films, where male protagonists now occupy what would be considered a feminine role in the films of yesteryear. Bleeker’s passivity, Tom’s pouty and obsessive attitude towards his relationship after it ended; yes, these are all things that back to the notion of allowing oneself to be vulnerable, but one can’t deny that these are characteristics that, in classical hollywood, WOULD be overtly feminine. No offense to Michael Cera by any means, but in all of his films he does take a more feminized role and since they are all basically the same role, Michael Cera the person is now associated with those characteristics. Little typo, I think you said a lot.

  • anton Says:

    I think there was an opportunity in the first 2 installments to explore some examples of how love and relationships were portrayed in Hollywood’s storied past. It would’ve provided some good context for the argument you presented with the three movies.

    I also don’t think it should’ve been broken into three parts. I was getting into it during the first installment but then I had to wait. It’s a feature article after all, so I’m not afraid of a huge block of text. Instead, I have to review what I read in previous installments to get back into the flow.

    I also wonder why Benn gets so defensive when a negative comment appears in this forum. If you really don’t care about how readers are affected by your articles, then why reply? Why is there a comments section to begin with?

    Naw meen?

  • Gillian Hadland Says:

    Lost and Found: Just because you decided to give your right hand a break from sodomizing yourself to comment on a single typo it doesn’t make you sound witty at all. Perhaps you’re just jealous that someone is successful and talented in their writing. I happen to find you 100% pretentious and retarded. Now go back to watching Donnie Darko and believing you’re too intelligent for anyone to understand.

  • Leigh Says:

    Writers like comment sections to get feedback. And if a writer reads a review that is uncalled for and rude and by no means offers any intelligent advice on how to improve then of course they’re going to get defensive. Naw meen, anton?

  • Rocom Says:

    I’m a rapper, and I think getting offended is for faggets.

  • James Goux Says:

    @Rocom Those are words to live by, sir.

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