I don’t know
if I am looking in
or looking out
that window in the middle of the sunset
my ears melt
into my teeth
and I am content
to be a thing
“Halfway to Heaven” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse
Artwork: “Fight or Fright” by Dessi Terzieva
Last night I attended Doug Benson’s Interruption of The Great Gatsby at The Cinefamily. I hadn’t seen the film, but had heard that it was a big, awful mess designed to win over young viewers with brain-numbing hip-hop music and party culture extravagance. I couldn’t wait for the mocking to begin. But something unexpected happened between Benson’s “Does this movie take place on Earth?” and Thomas Lennon’s “Can anybody tell me who that character is? For a million dollars? Anyone?”….
I became interested.
Like a lot of people who heard about Luhrmann’s Gatsby before seeing it in a theater, I went in expecting to be offended by the off-base portrayal of the Jazz Age. Because I admittedly adopt the type of unfounded nostalgia that no person my age should. As the camera swooped into a lavish hotel room and the thumping bass of club music played over the speakers, my instinct was to say “Hey! THAT’S NOT HOW IT WAS! ” But I realized then, that I had no right to think that because all my ideas of The Jazz Age are based on images from Boardwalk Empire and Betty Boop.
It’s true that the emotional nuances of the original story are stomped on by Luhrmann’s signature vulgarity. And it’s true that he made Gatsby’s house look like a rap music video, but when we strip it down isn’t Gatsby an excessively rich dude who throws parties littered with drunk girls, booming music, celebrities, and free booze?… The interpretation isn’t exactly off the mark.
Luhrmann’s movies are often panned, but I really think that he has a talent for showing that young, stupid people are young and stupid no matter what backdrop you throw them against. We want to believe that we’ve missed out on something. That superficiality is just the oozy afterbirth of the 1980s and that our beloved Jazz Age was better than whatever we’re living in now. But the shallowness that we criticize without restraint in our own time, existed without question, in the times that we idealize.
It was not a tale of disillusionment ..or the hopelessness of time, but I left the film wanting to understand my attachment to worlds that can no longer be accessed and my need to believe that the magic so absent in the world today existed decades ago.
ANGIE: Can you pinpoint where your social anxiety comes from.. if there is such a place?
MITCH: my social anxiety comes from me feeling like a freak.
ANGIE: That sounds simple enough. but it isn’t. at all.
MITCH: I see other people. normal people. couples in the mall, people walking along smiling. I see the disconnect between them and myself. I realize how impossibly hard it is for me to simply feel happy and I spiral.
ANGIE: hmm.. I just assume that everyone is secretly anxious and depressed and in denial about it. Is that worse?
MITCH: everyone has issues… doesn’t mean that people need to walk around looking blissful… fucking assholes
ANGIE: how do you feel about taking medication ?
MITCH: i have no issues with my medication when I am on it. When I am on the pills I can function… I’m not always happy but happiness is an option.
ANGIE: Do you go to therapy too?
MITCH: Therapy… is like a D&D group. It works great if you get a connection with the people involved… if there is no chemistry then it’s awkward and forced.
ANGIE: I have only ever had old jewish therapists who ask me about my mother incessantly. then I stop going to them.
ANGIE: I try so hard to understand everyone that I can’t even feel when I’m angry anymore.
MITCH: anger is addictive! chemically in your brain. even though it’s a negative emotion it feels good to act on it although you generally feel bad afterwards because you are coming down from a high… so hurting people due to anger…. there is a reason and people… hate groups, bigots… they are junkies. i know it seems weird but… it relieves me… these people have become addicted to hate and they keep returning to it because it makes them feel good and not because they necessarily believe it… it makes the world a little less bleak and a bit more rational in my eyes
ANGIE: That makes me feel more like a person.
MITCH: it is something that helps me… when I am getting angry constantly at a group… or when I see others(especially politcal) constantly digging at each other… I can understand it more because i understand them better… it’s not about hate it’s about lack of self control and an attempt to make yourself feel better…. and I think we all understand that.
Before we became
We ran through freshly sprinkled yards
on summer nights–
and teased the misty breeze –
our sunburned noses caught the familiar scent
of wet concrete.
But in the holes ahead
were burnished, brassy pupils
warning of degradation
Warning of the end
and the beginning
“Before 13” by Angie Hoover-Hillhouse
Artwork by Daria Hlazatova
Another surrealist piece made in the early 90s starring Ron Lynch, JB Smoove, and Amy Poehler. It is a modern day western set in New York city. I still haven’t decided how I feel about it.