Don't even try to act like you don't. I see you over there, grousing about her Oscar win and her acceptance speech. I see you rolling your eyes at the litany of adjectives that have to procede actually naming her (stripper turned author turned blogger turned screenwriter turned Oscar winner turned Entertainment Weekly columnist). I know that when you talk to people about Juno you preface it by saying, "Well, after I got through the first twenty minutes..." or you sneer "That soundtrack was just so...twee." I see you reminding people she gave herself the name Diablo Cody, that her name is actually Brooke Busey. All I wonder is, what did Diablo do to piss you off so bad?
Yes, all across America, people are waking up to the fact that if you want to be cool, you talk about how you didn't like Juno all that much and you absolutely despise that pretentious whore Diablo Cody. Amelie Gillette predicted this weeks ago in the print-only edition of The Hater, and it came to fruition very recently. There was Dana Stevens' piece in Slate discussing it, a brutal and hilarious Something Awful takedown and a ummm...not so funny Super Deluxe video.
Get it? Because she wrote a movie where some of the dialogue rhymed!!!
But what about that Juno screenplay? Despite containing the cringe inducing phrases "Honest to blog" and "Phuket, Thailand" (what does that mean, by the way?), most of the script is smart and quick and does a good time balancing quirkiness with the serious situation introduced by the plot. Detractors of the script point to what they call a faux (or even worse, real)-hipster sensibility and characters who talk and act more like movie characters than real people.
They have a point, what with American cinema making a sharp turn towards realism. I still remember how critics and audiences alike swooned over the hyper-realism of this summer's batch of blockbusters. All the plots kind of blurred together for me, but I believe the movies involved some sort of conflagration of giant undead fighting robots going up against a wiseacre CGI cop voiced by Bruce Willis. There was also that one that was about, I believe it was a bunch of pirates fighting teenage wizards over who would get to rescue John Cusack from a haunted hotel room.
Realism fever, catch it! I mean, Lord knows I can relate to the time my mescaline addicted friend painted his face in multiple bright colors and crashed his convertible into my Manhattan townhouse just minutes before my mother was set to marry her longtime accountant. Tex is always ready to regale us with the story of his friend who put on a play about Vietnam in his high school auditorium using real explosives. We don't talk about it much, but when I visited Ush in San Francisco we had a madcap adventure involving mixed up identities, bowling and nihilists. And boy, if I had a nickel for every time a fat pot smoking loser with absolutely no social graces impregnated a blonde bombshell and then married her, well, let's just say I could build a nickel house that could be seen from space.
So the question becomes, is this backlash being driven by misogyny? I guess there's an irony or something that doesn't fit in my willingness to jump up to Brooke's defense and not Hillary's using the big "M" word, but I don't care. There's less at stake in Hollywood than there is in the race for the White House, and therefore more room to toss around accusations of lowbrow hatred without ruining the debate. There are two quotes from a New York Times interview that particularly impresses me:
"I have never been an ambitious person, and my participation in this industry is a fluke, but only male writers can afford to be coy and self-deprecating."
"The attitude toward women in this industry is nauseating. There are all sorts of porcine executives who are uncomfortable with a woman doing anything subversive. They want the movie about the beautiful girl who trips and falls, the adorable klutz."
Think about Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, or her loathsome modern equivalent, Jessica Alba in Good Luck Chuck. Think of Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up who tripped and fell on to Seth Rogen's dick and spent the rest of the movie somewhere between joyless succubus and screeching harpy. The only thing more boring and predictable than being a woman in the lead role of a modern romantic comedy is being Morgan Freeman in any movie with a white co-star. When a guy gets dumped in the movie he hits the bottle, sleeps around and grows a totally awesome sadness beard. When a woman does, it's bonbons and crying, without even an attempt at fun.
Don't be stupid, highly regressive gender politics play a large role in the Diablo Cody backlash. I don't know where people got off claiming there were no teenage girls like Juno in this world, because I've known plenty of them. Not quite as witty of course, but if there were ever a movie that actually detailed a realistic picture of high school life it would be so dreadfully boring and cringe inducing that there would be riots. Yes, riots, just trust me on this. So let's lay off Diablo Cody for awhile. One movie into her career, she has a legitimate hit in her corner. At least give her a chance to bomb before writing her off as America's Next Top Hack.