Saturday, January 18, 2014

John Vs. John or Why I Will Be a Cat Lady

In his rather hilarious compilation of essays Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman said he’d likely never be able to fully satisfy a woman, nor, in turn, would any woman be able to satisfy him. The reason? John Cusack.

“It appears that countless women born between the years of 1965 and 1978 are in love with John Cusack. I cannot fathom how he isn’t the number-one box-office star in America, because every straight girl I know would sell her soul to share a milkshake with that motherfucker. For upwardly mobile women in their twenties and thirties, John Cusack is the neo-Elvis. But here’s what none of these upwardly mobile women seem to realize: They don’t love John Cusack. They love Lloyd Dobler.”

Here’s where it gets slightly more complicated than a cutesy, humorous rant blaming John Cusack for all 30-something men’s relationship woes. It’s actually about media influences on our ideas of love and relationships. Basically, the premise is that media portrayals have screwed any chance we have of building and maintaining normal romantic relationships because the beloved, heart-warming ideals found in movies, fairy tales, TV shows, etc are what we grow to desire. We all want fake, charmingly complicated love affairs that have no basis in the reality of actually living with someone day in and day out for any length of time.

But are we really romantically challenged because of the media or did we create the media monster which continually commercializes this bullshit notion of love? That’s the real question. People, in general, are always looking for something easy and better--a magic cure all pill that makes you lose 20 lbs, grow perky DD breasts or a fatter bulge in your jeans (fully functional, of course), and find your dream partner all for the low, low price of $9.99 (shipping and handling charges do apply)!!! We want it all. We want it now. And we want it better than ever before with little effort or maintenance. So, can we really lay blame on the media for this or do we really have to blame ourselves? 

I think, at least from a personal point of view, I’m still blaming John Cusack.

It’s not John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler that has defined my unattainable fantasy guy standards, though. It’s not really John Cusack either, thought I’m sure he’s a swell guy. No, odd as it may sound, no guy can ever match Rob Gordon from the 2001 movie High Fidelity based on the novel by Nick Hornby.

Right now, you may be wondering about my sanity. This particular character, Rob, displays some pretty awful characteristics and a couple psychotic tendencies while still maintaining his mediocrity. But, then, you have to figure in that I’m certainly no Diane Court. I’ve never been a happy-go-lucky girl with everything going for me trying to find a balance between Daddy and the love of my life. Things have, as for many people, been a bit more complicated and involved a hell of a lot more heartache. I’ve never really been the sort to desire the Lloyd Doblers of the world in other words.

Lloyd is charming but fairly clueless. He never really says anything with much depth through the
entire movie. His only expressed interests are kickboxing and Diane. He’s only funny when he’s nervous and chattering without forethought. He’s an all around nice guy--checking on his date at parties, moving glass shards our of her path, sending her sweet notes which is all fine until the point where it becomes clingy and weird in a very self-sacrificial way. He’s great with kids but only because he’s still just a kind himself. He’s cute, quirky, and sweet, and I suppose for any younger girl watching this movie back in 1989 when it came out, Lloyd was quite a dreamboat. Every one of them is still waiting for a lovable, young sort-of hunk in a creepy trench coat and not so fabulous sweat pants (which they would later rip to shreds and burn while he is out with the boys) to blare “In Your Eyes” from a boombox into their bedroom windows. Lots of girls even seeing it now, over 20 years after the fact, are likely still waiting on the very same thing.

Then there’s me and other women like me (maybe).

In High Fidelity, when Rob Gordon theorized that it’s not what you are like but what you like that counts, my heart swelled. Finally! Finally, someone was stating a fact I was so sure of myself. I’m guilty of wanting to know about and judging a person based on movie, music, and old cartoon likes and dislikes at the very least. If I can’t find some common ground with someone on these topics, I cannot maintain any interest whatsoever. Just as when he discusses his date with Marie de Salle and says based on said common interests, he was having the best date of his life; I have always judged dates and first conversations by the same token. Honestly, these are prioritized before religious and political beliefs.

He has a passion for music to the point of owning his own record store. My musical passion runs deep with every memory of my life (fond or not) associated with a song. He’s funny, witty, and a mix tape guy. If someone stood outside my window blaring a cheesy love song, I’d likely die with laughter and not in a good way, but put the effort in to make me a really good mix tape, and I’m hooked. I’d prefer a mix tape to flowers or jewelry any day. He’s also, unlike Lloyd, a bit of an asshole because he’s more real. He has weak moments, selfish moments. He’s angry, cynical, and sarcastic. Imaginative. Lloyd lacks most of the fundamentals that would attract me; Rob Gordon embodies them. And, by no means, does High Fidelity portray a fairy tale romance. His relationship prevails because she’s in a position where such a change seems inconceivable and he figures he’s fairly satisfied with her so he should quit holding part of himself open for something better. They, in a lot of ways, settle for what they have maybe because they realize in the end that love is not a fairy tale.

So, Chuck Klosterman, is, at least, partially right. The media is responsible for a fraction of our dissatisfaction in relationships. I don’t think it can be said that it’s all because of the media’s fake love obsession. I think sometimes there are just characters our real counterparts cannot live up to and that adds its own element.

No matter how often I talk to pursuers about my love of mix tapes, I rarely get one. Most of the dudes I meet are rarely as interested in music as they are video games (a balance between the two is key), and no one seems to get how important it is to find common ground in what you like. Who cares if you’re an upstanding, loving guy with solid morals and a good job? If you can’t sit through Fear and Loathing with me or put up with my occasional 80s marathons or days spent in bed watching old cartoons, you may as well get lost.

I may be doomed for failure, but who really knows? There may be hope yet seeing as how Chuck Klosterman’s gotten married since he wrote that essay laying blame on John.

Or maybe I should just make a Rob Gordon shrine, name my dildo after him, and adopt 10 cats.

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