Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Would I let my daughter date Lloyd Dobler?

NOTE: Lloyd Dobler is a fictional character from the movie "Say Anything". If you haven't seen the movie, turn on the crappy free movie channels that your cable provider offers, I am sure it will be on. Go ahead, I will wait. If you can't find it, here is a decent synopsis by the late great Gene Siskel

Since the holiday season, I have noticed the 1989 teen romance flick "Say Anything" has been broadcast in constant rotation. Sometimes I watch it, other times I pass, but over my lifetime, I must have watched this film at least 40 times. I first came across Say Anything before my teenage years, wasting my summer away watching early morning USA network block of youth-focused movies (No Class Movie Daze). I returned to the film the year I graduated high school, coming away with a much better understanding of the characters and developed a long-held appreciation for the character of Lloyd Dobler.

Turning 30, my focus is far away from teenage movies and my mind often drifts to the probability/possibility of having children (in which I am convinced I will have daughters). What kind of father will I be to my future-made-up daughters? How will I react when they eventually bring boys home? Will I play it cool like my father-in-law? Will I be terrifying like my own father (I didn't feel much sympathy for my brother-in-law in those days, but he had it on that fateful evening)? Will I be a dismissive asshole like the character John Mahoney played in Say Anything?

As I watch the film as an adult, the charm of the John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler isn't as universal as it once was (and Diane Court has gone from being slightly annoying to intolerable). Dobler's whole rant about "not knowing what he wants to do, but knows what he doesn't want to do" was mind blowing for my 17-year-old self, but now it seems aimless and self-indulgent. I once considered Lloyd's struggle to find a "dare to be great situation" awesome, and now I understand that I have to attempt to make every moment great. I often wonder how a 45-48 year old me would react to a kid wearing a trench coat telling me he doesn't want "buy anything, sell anything, process anything sold..." fuck it just check out the clip:



So here we have this dreamer, this "champion of mediocrity" as Mahoney puts it, attempting to date my daughter. Would I be relieved that he was able to form complete sentences (something his peers would probably falter at)? Would I be impressed with his travels? Or would I focus in on the fact that he has no ambitions besides kicking a punching bag and having a creepy stalker-style situation happening with my daughter. How pissed off would I be when this kid pulls up behind my house and starts blasting a poor man's version of Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to get her attention?



It mildly depresses me that a character that I held in high regard at 17, I view as a bit of a fuck-up in the "twilight of my youth" (thank you Ryan Adams). While I find it disturbing that I can empathize with Mahoney's Jim Court, I can't help but think he had the right reaction to Lloyd: Dobler followed his daughter to London, and let's face it, you know she isn't going to get the full experience of her educational opportunity with Lloyd to come home to every night. He is going to ride her coat-tales until she figures out that too many punches to the head has caused minor brain damage, limiting Lloyd's job choices. Diane will realize that she has wasted her youth on a functionally retarded adult and leave him sad and lonely (and in the rain). Maybe he will get lucky and some emo girl will find his plight endearing and let him cut the soup line.

God damn-it... I sold out.