Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"A singularly unambitious movie that has more in common with 30 minute pizza than with art"

Udolpho reviews It's Complicated:
[It's Complicated is] a complete catalogue of everything vital to the SWPL [Stuff White People Like] set, including but not limited to: a cheerful yet infantilized brood of attractive young adult children, professional people who run their own businesses, gourmet bakeries with sets borrowed from the Food Network, casual attitudes toward marijuana, characters who actually say things like "I'm sorry for betraying your trust"--to their kids, people who live on atomized neighborless spreads, aimless home remodeling projects, Apple laptops (now so commonplace that the sight of a glaring Apple logo somewhere onscreen may be a technique taught to all cinematographers), middle-aged people behaving without a shred of dignity, and stories about family and relationships so that none of the characters ever has a reason to leave his narcissistic cocoon.


What directors like Nancy Meyers give SWPLs are their ideal lifestyles and ideal self image. Money and status are never concerns, nor for that matter is success in business. Such benefits are simply what SWPLs have coming to them by virtue of their intelligence, open-mindedness, and love of novelty. It is simply a given that a SWPL will be able to expertly manage a construction company, a niche bakery (as if another one could possibly be crammed into a SWPL habitat), or a law firm without ever seeming to do more than delegate responsibilities and assign vague tasks to conscientious-looking employees. (The SWPL fantasy job is actually that of generic manager.)

Likewise, one's children behave like expertly tooled Japanese androids, their chief purpose to lend smiling (or every now and then dew-eyed) support and friendship. In some respects a SWPL's children are his true peers, perhaps even his superiors in a role-reversed arrangement (part of the fantasy of this role reversal involves never having the responsibility of a parent).

As far as personal growth, the SWPL professional is deeply committed to the therapeutic process, but like his pleas for forgiveness which do not come from penitence or remorse but from unhappiness with pleasure denied, his therapist is more like a paid companion. Paid, that is, to listen to his one-sided complaints and agonies and offer judgement-free suggestions for future onanistic introspection.