Alice and Peter
- Alice: Do you remember the way home?
- Peter: No, Alice, home is overrated. Home is a place that you're expected to grow up. I don't remember how to get home because I don't want to.
- Alice: Well, I guess I can stay here until I get homesick. What do you call this place?
- Peter: That depends. I call it Neverland because you never have to be anything other than you but some call it Wonderland because it's so strange.
- Alice: A land as curious as this could have a million names.
This fall I will begin my life as an actual adult going to school in an all new state and leaving home for what may be the last time. It’s not like I’m going to the opposite end of the country or anything but it’s still a pretty big deal.
First, it should be known that I’ve spent a large part of my life in Semi-Suburbian Ohio and will be traveling some 200 miles from home to attend the University of Kentucky in August. This leads to the point that my summer, the first of my adult life and last of my life in Ohio, is half over. The first half was full of all the "end of an era" high school drama, brimming with the empty promises of hanging out before we all ship off to start our lives.
It was evident within two weeks of graduation that I would really only be hanging out with two people from my entire graduating class of around 120. These two people include my guy best friend since second grade who has decided to stick around town and attend a local college and my girl best friend who has enlisted in the army.
This isn’t to mean that my friendships are all over. This is everyone else’s last summer, too. Everyone went and got a job, became too busy to hang out but still managed to make time for the second job they got. There are a few people that have already started taking their college classes as summer courses at the community college.
End of an era is an understatement for what happens when everyone marches off stage with their brand new, glossy diplomas. It’s the end of your fucking childhood. It’s either get a job or start working on your next diploma.
I’m not going to go in to detail about the place I reside because it’s actually not that bad, but I have to mention that about 75% of my graduating class was desperate to get out of there. I’m included in that estimate not because the city is the worst place to live, trust me it’s not. But every teen thinks there’s a better place than home, some go looking for it out of a sense of curiosity, most stay because the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.
My dream was New York. Don’t know why but for the longest time I’ve wanted to live in the big city. I know the people are rude and the rats are huge, I mean come on I watch Broad City, but New York is my dream. NYC is to me what Vermont is to Olivia Pope and President Grant. It’s my escape and in some other universe I’m already there. But in this universe I’m stuck in Ohio.
Of course the fact remains that, starting in August, the next four to five years of my life will be spent in Lexington, Kentucky. Horse country. Hooch country. Beautiful city with nice people and great home cooking. It’s not New York but at the same time it’s not Ohio, so it’s still great.
And next summer, if I elect not to take summer classes and God willing, I will have some kind of awesome, kick ass, beyond belief great internship that will keep my from returning home for the entire summer next year. Don’t get me wrong, I want to come home and visit but not for a whole two months.
Ohio is cool but it’s not that cool.
The film industry has been shrouded in controversy since the very first silent film was created in the dwindling years of the 19th century. The controversy has only grown since then, getting in the way of the storytelling potential of film making. Even if you forgive the controversy, Hollywood is still dying.
Creativity is a natural resource that we cannot get more of. So when the stories become the same, there is nothing left to film. Scripts will become kindling for trashcan fires, actresses will return to waitress status, and the lights will burn out while the cameras collect dust.
Apocalypse occurs. World ends. Every existing film automatically becomes a classic.
It seems that the studios simply remake old films or historic concepts for their multi-million dollar budgets using well known actors to carry the weight of the film’s success or failure. At the same time, independent films use cheap effects and phoned in acting with wild sex scenes or violent gore to gather attention.
The point is the film industry is fucked.
I can attribute the fall of film to three major causes:
1.) Business vs. Art
The bigwigs in the corporations want to hear how much money they can make off of a film not how much they could lose by taking a risk on a script that challenges popular values. It’s a game of numbers instead of what it should be. A game of art at its most intense level: visual and auditory. Storytelling.
2.) Lack of Diversity
To add to the inability to ignore the business aspect, there is an impenetrable reigning group of white males from middle class or better socioeconomic backgrounds. There are very few women and/or minorities in the world of studio film making.
3.) Lack of Live Interaction
One thing that keeps the films pumping is film festivals. For whatever reason the actual experience of film has been lost and film festivals have not grown as exponentially as they should. Music is kept alive by the live, person to person connection and if the film industry could see that they could use the live interaction to their advantage there would be a lot more films in the park and film festival growth.
As an aspiring filmmaker myself, I hope the industry can be resurrected. The one thing I don’t want to do is return to the studio system that prevailed prior to the independent revolution. Plain and simple, the studios refuse to take risks on films and is the opposite of accepting to newcomers.
A patron approached the reference desk holding a title request slip.
Patron: “Can you help me find this book?”
Me [pointing to the next desk over]: “Our Readers’ Advisor will be happy to help you!”
Patron: “Oh, um, I asked her already. She said only you can help me.”
Me: “Are you sure? That’s unusual…”
Patron: “You are the only person who can help me find this book.”
Me: “All right. What’s the title?”
Patron: “How to Get a Date With a Cute Librarian.”
Me: “Oh. I see.”
He smooth as fuck
I miss the classic slasher films with the blood and gore. The character tropes found in slashers don’t always play well into other types of films, sometimes not even into the original horror genre. But the one thing that slasher’s have over every other genre is the existence of feminism.
Slashers are known for sex, drugs, and violence, playing into the preconceived idea that the three go hand in hand. Often times you will find the main character to be a female, one who will go onto become the "final girl". She is seen as a virtuous character who doesn’t participate in the drug usage or sexual escapades of her friends who are all, of course, teens or young adults.
So, after all the sinners are killed off by a masked maniac, the final girl uses the skills she has apparently gained over the course of the film and kills the maniac, to save herself and often to avenge her dead friends.
It’s all very empowering. It’s also one of film’s greatest phenomena. Slasher films are frequented by a predominantly male audience, yet a lot of popular slashers have had female leads. Focusing on the Friday the 13th franchise alone, we see final girls in the forms of Alice, Ginny Fields, and Chris Higgins. Then, the Halloween franchise sees Laurie Strode as a recurring final girl. And the most obvious final girl of all is the Scream franchise’s own Sidney Prescott.
So the phenomena is the identification of final girls by a mostly male audience. For men of any age to identify with the plights of a teen/young adult women is in itself a huge step in the feminist movement in that men are relating to women on a primal, surviving against anything no matter the odds level.
And let’s face it, slashers are basically about morals. If you have premarital sex, Jason will impale you with a machete. Let’s not get started with the number of victims that could have survived had they not been impaired by pot, beer, and unchecked teen hormones.
Honestly, when you recount a slasher, don’t you finish with "moral of the story is don’t do drugs, drink liquor, have premarital sex, or be anywhere that you don’t have adults or cell reception"?
Not to lower the importance of the final girl, but isn’t the real star of any slasher the chainsaw? Scratch that, the star of the film is the killer and their weapon of choice, right? Everyone wants the killer to make it even if they don’t realize they do. Because there is always a chance for a sequel with even better death sequences and the killer’s body count soars.
You might not remember all of the victims’ names but when your friend says “the guy that got sucked into his bed in that Elm Street movie” you know he’s talking about Johnny Depp. Because the killer in the movie is just a means to see more people creatively butchered.
Not to say that we’re all secretly psychopaths but that is pretty sick. And, if anyone reading this wants to say that I’ve deviated from my original point that the entire sub genre of slasher films are creations of the organized group known as feminists, I haven’t forgotten that.
In fact, my entire point was that we may root for the final girl like the feminists want us to, but in the end she’s not the protagonist at all. Because the character that the audience actually wants to survive is the psychopath with blood dripping from his Walmart machete.
So, take that feminists. You lost your control over fans of slasher films. Sweet freedom.
Lately, I’ve felt that my writings have been lacking. When I first started writing, at the ripe age of eight, my stories were short, elaborate, and often nonsensical. But at least they were interesting. I had broad character, developed and identified as one archetype or another. I would have male protagonists. I would write about the things that I thought there should have been more stories about.
Shape-shifters that work for the government to round up rebels.
Orphans united against the post-revolutionary system of children being separated from their actual parents.
A zombie that eats humans that he once knew so he can experience their memories and put together what happened to his lost girlfriend.
Substance. Now all my writings are basically an MTV show revisited. Anonymous teenage girl falls in love with a guy out of her league. Someone dies. The characters get over it. Protagonist realizes that the popular guy isn’t what’s best for her.
All my stories have become this. I’m accepting the fact that I’m a cliche. And that my protagonist isn’t gonna change until I change. I have to grow as a writer, not shrink.
So, I’m not even my own protagonist.
But I’m trying to be.
Karen Russell at McNally-Jackson, 6/12/14