Thisi is the movie poster for An Education:
If this looks terribly adorable, then there are spoilers below. If not, then there are no spoilers below. Take a minute and think it over.
The movie is about a 16 year old girl in 1961 Britain, in her final year of "gymnasium" or A-Levels or sixth form or whatever they call it over there, wanting to "read English at Oxford."
Her father, an unsophisticated, stuffy, and concrete man, wants her to go to Oxford. Period. Not learn Latin or study mathematics or play the cello -- which he insists she do -- but do those things solely because they will get her into Oxford. He relaxes in a suit and tie and drinks only on Christmas. In other words, he's an American parent.ii Yes, just like Amy Chua, which is why your reactions to them are identical.
She wants to go to Oxford, too, but is perplexed and resistant to the purposeless of her life so far. Is the only point of cello just to impress the Oxford interviewer? She wants to live, read books and listen to jazz, go to Paris and Rome, eat good food in restaurants. That's a quote.
It helps that a) she is extremely pretty with not one single hint of threatening sexualityiii -- so that women in the audience can identify with her; and b) super-intelligent and witty, so that the same women can assume that because of a), they are also b.) It also give the male audience a comfort zone -- since she's not sexy, there's nothing creepy about me liking her. The absence of sexiness is vital to the misunderstanding of the movieiv, and to its appeal. We'll come back to this.
This is a movie about teenage rebellion, in the past.v Whenever teen rebellion is depicted in present day, it's teen becoming worse. When teen rebellion is depicted in the past, it's teen trying to be better. NB: movies are made by adults who have kids.
So our mythic hero receives The Call to Adventure. I'm going to try to describe it in the most neutral language possible, so as not to influence you, but I'm going to fail. Sorry in advance.
As she's standing in the rain one day, a man, about 35, in a purple sportscar drives up and offers her a ride home.
At first it's platonicvi, but gradually they fall for each other. He is sophisticated, worldlyvii, eventually takes her to Paris, loves the Pre-Raphaelites, likes both jazz and classical, is the perfect gentleman. He has two equally worldly friends, a coupleviii, and the three of them introduce her into a world full of life. The one she longs for.
But at the midpoint the plot twist comes: he's a thief. And a slum lord. And married. And now we get to see that she's been tricked into throwing her future away for something that isn't real.ix
The question for you reading this right now is whether this is a "plot twist," or is this "duh"?x The movie makes his duplicity be the reason the relationship fails.xi But the relationship was doomed immediately, duplicitous or not, from the moment this psychopath pulled up in a sportscar and asked a 16 year old to get in.xii Of course I understand why she'd fall for it, but that doesn't mean the audience is supposed to fall for it. In my imagination, the audience is looking at each other like wtf? seriously?xiii But if the internet is any guide, people reacted to this as if it was a puppy rescue on CNN.
"So what, if I see a 16 year old standing in the rain in my suburban neighborhood, I can't give her a ride home?" It's very simple: if you're nervous about it, for her sake let her catch a death of cold. Just because bin Laden was married to a 16 year old doesn't mean it's okay for you.xiv
I've watched the movie twice to be sure I'm not insanexv, though admittedly this is not a valid test. Yes, they slowly drop small hints that he's not who he seems, but I am certain that in the beginning, the viewer is not supposed to detect anything wrong with their relationship. The only reason I assumed that the three of these sophisticates must also be cannibals is because I, me, can't believe that three adults who lure a 16 year old girl into their fold wouldn't obviously be cannibals.xvi My personal bias.
If David's arrival on screen is creepy, the father's presence is nothing short of preposterously offensive.
The movie wants you to see that he only cares about appearances, not her soul. He is the worst, utterly the worst, thing a Hollywood director can imagine: he is bourgeois. Here's a media protip: the words "bourgeois" and "American" are always completely interchangeable.
In being this, he is blind to his daughter's true nature and an accessory to child rape.xix He grills and insults some poor teen who asks her out, but because David is a higher class person, he doesn't try to find out anything about him, doesn't ask if he's on a list, lets him take Jenny out late and on overnight trips. He practically shaves her vagina for him.xx The father never even asks David's last name. In fact, his only reservation about David is that he is... wait for it... Jewish.xxi Oh, no matter, David charms the anti-semitism right out of him. Yes, it was that easy.
Naturally, when it is discovered that David is married, her dad gets angry. He wants a confrontation, so he mans up: "right, if you won't do it, I will. I'm still your father."
"Oh, you're my father again, are you?" she says in the only line that makes sense in the whole movie. "What were you when you were encouraging me to throw my life away? Silly schoolgirls are always being seduced by glamorous older men, but what about you?"xxii
That's your life lesson. The unique problem of raising kids is that not only will they hate you for not letting them do stuff, they will hate you for letting them do stuff they later regret. Choose accordingly.xxiii
I don't blamexxiv 16 year old Jenny for falling for the charismatic and sophisticated older man, of course I get it. And, to a point, I am not even surprised that the parents fell for him either; they wanted "the best" for their daughter, and he looked like the best. I can't do anything about misreading a stranger.
But what is their fault is that they misread Jenny. They never listened to Jenny's words. They may be good or bad people, but they failed as parents in this specific way.
Every time she explains why she loves David, or why she wants to marry him, or leave school, she says something like this:
"I want to read books, and listen to jazz, and go to Paris and Rome, and eat good food in restaurants."
None of those things are descriptions of David. She may think she loves him, but to anyone who listens to her words it's clear she loves the world he offers. That's not a reason to love anyone, in fact, it is proof you do not love him.xxv However much the parents want her to "marry well," they should have heard these words and realizedxxvi that she didn't love him and that it inevitably wouldn't last. That was their responsibility. David, if he was any kind of man, should have noticed and let her go.xxvii And any intelligent women seduced by the prospect of a man's new world should describe her happiness in three sentences and count how many times his name comes up, and then return the ring.xxviii
The movie pulls off a clever trick: even after you learn David is a cad and a liar, you don't really ever hate him. And that's because you all Anglos have forgotten how to hate.xxix You think your lack of hate is a evidence of your own sophistication and maturityxxx; just as Jenny doesn't hate himxxxi, she goes beyond him, you do, too. But you're not being honest.
Imagine the exact same movie, everything the same, but filmed entirely from his perspective. He sees a girl in the rain, and makes his move. Now you easily hate him, now you see him as a bad person. So why the change of heart?
Similarly, if Jenny had been portrayed as superintelligent and witty but also as extremely hot -- that single change and no other, e.g. played by Megan Fox, you would have immediately detected the corruption at the center of the movie and stoned David and his purple car.
So the reason you don't hate him in An Education is because you are deliberately not seeing reality objectively, you are choosing to see it entirely from her eyes, or have so identified with her that they are your eyes, which makes David merely a supporting character.xxxii That inability to value people as individuals, good or bad, to appraise their worth independent of yourself, is a characteristic which is excusable in a 16 year old girl, and inexcusable in anyone else.xxxiii
It's evident to me that the filmmakers did not understand the true meaning of the tale they were telling, and I soon discovered why: they were telling a tale that had already been told by someone else. Lynn Barber, a writer for the Observer, wrote the original storyxxxiv about her own experience as a 16 yo Oxford wannabe falling for an empty Tiffany's box. The stories are very similar, except for their final lines. This is how the movie ends:
So I went [to Oxford], and I probably looked as wide eyed, fresh and artless as any other student. But I wasn't. One of the boys I went out with -- and they really were just boys -- asked me to go to Paris with him. And I told him I'd love to see Paris. As if I'd never been.
You can imagine her winking at a knowing audience.
Here's how Barber's story ends:
What did I get from Simon? An education... My experience with Simon entirely cured my craving for sophistication. By the time I got to Oxford, I wanted nothing more than to meet kind, decent, straightforward boys my own age, no matter if they were gauche or virgins. I would marry one eventually and stay married all my life and for that, I suppose, I have Simon to thank.
Barber grew up.xxxv Jenny didn't. But the movie thinks she did. The movie is called "An Education", but Jenny didn't get one. She is like so many other women who have deceived themselves into thinking they are wise. She's still in her movie, ready for a sequel, same as the original. Jenny won't ever be happy; fortunately for her, she's not real.xxxvi———
- The picture above is from the Grunwick strike, cca 1977, as he correctly notes in the title. The strike itself was unsuccessful, and fizzled out by mid-1978.
The strikers were mostly female, immigrants, from East Africa and Asia (and called "strikers in saris" at the time). The sarisuit in charge was one Jayaben Desai, whom I suppose he's calling Jenny. Here she is :
Always remember, chitlins : dressing poorly doesn't get you out of being a slut. You're still a slut, just, a poorly dressed one.
PS. In all fairness, she was also famous (though to a lesser degree than for those low hanging udders) for coming up with memorable phrases. For instance, when she led the walkout at Grunwick, she memorably said
Now wait a moment, someone must attack Gonzalez. The man with the brick, come over here at once and knock him a bit about the head.
which, you must admit, is as fine advancing of the socialist ideals as one could possibly hope for. [↩]
- There's no "American" anything. [↩]
- This is a complete contradiction in terms. Think about it. [↩]
- The absence of sexiness is actually vital to your misunderstanding of your entire life, as well as any and all parts of reality -- which is why you didn't see the ugly, low hanging tits on the pantsuit until I showed them to you, and can't unsee them now that I have.
Yet sexiness is never absent ; repression always leaves behind a signal of what's been repressed ; the supposed absence of sexiness is never an actual absence, but always a presence : it is the signal left behind when purposefully misreading experience.
Here's how reality looks naturally :
Now here's how reality looks "in the absence of sexiness" :
Substract an A.
Substract a T also.
That's three lines instead of one, and you're calling them "the absence of vowels", but they're not the absence, they're the deletion : deliberate, ulterior, and yes disavowed.
You delete parts of reality after the fact, and then pretend like you didn't -- but then again, if you didn't do this, how could an ugly Klein Zaches lead you about by your nose and pay you "golden" leaves for your trouble ? For as long as you believe movement is everything (including "the future"), you're stuck with this. [↩]
- For some reason these always gotta happen in England. [↩]
- This "at first it's platonic" bullshit device... Forget about it, the whole premise of mating from the female side is that her person's inconsequential and her current life not worth continuing. Absent those two pillars, you know what ? Go fuck the dogs. They don't care. [↩]
- And magically alone...
- Riiight, riiight, a couple, because totally, that device works towards the author's sterilizing intention, and not how it actually works in reality.
I know this story is bullshit, not because the couple-friends of the "sophisticated" etcetera would have fucked her on the first date ; but because they'd have expected her to strip naked, and sent her on her way once she "platonically" wallflowered. It's like expecting people to have washed -- do you send someone packing whose BO is visibly altering the color of your food ? Well, sophisticated people do exactly the same thing, it's just, they have entirely different standards from yours. [↩]
- How the fuck is a slum lord not real and what's more real than a slum lord ?!
Nuts, these people, "oh, the world as imagined by wallflowers doesn't exist, hurr durr" what the fuck.
This is why you make the colts strip, too. It's not that you want to fuck them -- why the fuck would you ?! It's that they need to ditch their historical dumbmind aside. I personally prefer introducing it just as naturally and matter-of-factedly as their "platonic" bullshit goes : "oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you, all females indoors are naked here, take it off", while the sluts who actually live there are doing just that. It is after all her fault and her failing, that she's not up to speed with society, and society (=me) is not about to make any adjustments for her sake. "Oh, that's not how you roll where you're from ? Okay, I guess ?" Who the fuck cares how she used to roll, seriously now. [↩]
- Apparently, it's neither. For me, it's accidental self-humiliation moment, that point in the life of the boy recounting his sexual history where inadvertence makes it obvious the whole "history" is imaginary. What now ? [↩]
- The actual reason "the relationship" fails is that he as imagined by her is not satisfying to her -- which is why she will take off her clothes in my livingroom. Not because I will be satisfactory, but because I am inimaginable. [↩]
- Ahahaha what ?! [↩]
- What does the author want to be true ? [↩]
- And why not ? Notice the slide, by the way -- which gives away exactly the confirmation for the foregoing note.
Nobody was talking of fucking marrying her, dorky! All that's on offer is some education, in the sense of sexual usage. [↩]
- There's nothing wrong with fucking a teen or tweenty. Everyone has, get over it. Seriously, it's okay to forgive yourself.
PS. This suggests a followup to one of the interview questions. [↩]
- Dude gtfo, even if you eat it you don't actually chew it off, what cannibals. [↩]
- Yeah, well, so maybe set foot outside the midwest sometime.
No, two weeks all inclusive at the McHilton-Donalds reservation nominally in India or whatever doesn't fucking count. [↩]
- Dude gtfo, who cares about your idiotic bias ? What next, some niggers from Delhi are gonna say my dismissive view of their worldview is "lazy" ? And what, since I have no intention of marring their hairy daughter, also "lazy" ? Shut it. [↩]
- A sixteen year old's a child like my dick's a licksicle : in the world of sexual play only. [↩]
- This is exactly as it should be. That is the only thing "higher class" means, or could possibly mean : when you deign to bless their daughter with a crumble of attention, they fall over themselves to shave her vulva for you.
Imagine this weird world Ballas inhabits, populated by him and children with hairy vaginas. [↩]
- Wait, what, his last name was Suss or what gave it away ? [↩]
- This only line that to the author makes sense is fucking insane. If anything a teen could ever do could conceivably amount to "throwing their life away", there'd be no adults. Moreover, what the fuck does it matter he's married, what, their ideal was that he marries her ?! "O wait, no, that's not what we mean... we mean that being married and only looking for a fucktoy makes him bad, but had he not been married and looking for a wife... that... that... that'd actually have made him worse". Fucking shut it. [↩]
- No dude, the dilemma of talking with idiots is that they've pre-decided a pile of bad and a pile of good, which are the same pile, and now in the bad aspect all alternatives are "worse' and in the good aspect all alternatives are "better", and they're the same fucking pile!
The problem with dealing with idiots is that if you refuse to smack them one upside the head to switch their states for them, you can spend forever going from worse to worse still. Which is why you must, you must hurt stupid people acting inconveniently. [↩]
- Blame ?! What fucking blame, she must do this. She must, or else she's not really a human being, like mongoloids and oligophrenics generally. Blaming the 16 yo girl for falling tits up and knees apart at the faintest whiff of wealthy, debonaire, sophisticated, worldly etcetera is like blaming 16 month olds for seeking tit. [↩]
- This is pretty contorted, to say nothing about self-serving. Every woman who ever lived and loved a man, loved the world he offered. That Jenny's too moronic to express things better than the narrow perspective and poor vocabulary her weak memory and the slowness and concreteness of her thought processes permit... well... that's no problem of David's, nor does it impugn her love for him. Women are eminently capable of truly loving men they neither understand nor are capable of describing, that's actually pretty much the definition of womanhood. [↩]
- The only thing that can be realized by listening to teens is that they're fucking stupid. The proposition of basing action on teens' words is preposterous. [↩]
- Go where the fuck ? Ok, so he lets her go. What now ? How is she supposed to ever grow up, if David lets her go ? What, goddess Inca is gonna download adulthood into her brain "when the time comes", magically, just like that ? Are you people fucking insane ? [↩]
- And then spend the rest of her days doing what ? Eating ramen and writing the same story over and over again for the USG's Dept of Hiring Spinsters ? Raising cats and playing with cereal boxes ? Are. You. People. Fucking. Insane ?! [↩]
- No dude, it's because nobody thinks a precious cuntlet's quite so important, the whole world has to be reorganized around her. [↩]
- No, it's evidence of her insignificance. [↩]
- Idem. The girl doesn't think herself all that important, which is exactly as it should be.
PS. What does an author, who just "broke the law" and "did the bad", want to believe about the object in the cookie jar ? Not that it's just a cookie, whatever, everyone has one whenever they can be bothered, right ? The exact opposite, yes ?
This is how you psychotic idiots fucked your environment beyond all possible recognizition. First, you accepted insane notions of ethics, sin, wrong, etcetera. Then, you proceeded to try and live. And then, to justify the "costs" of living with insanity, you began misrepresenting everything. A cookie can not just be a cookie anymore, it has to be more than that. Much, much more than that. So much more than that, in fact, to justify the incredible sin of eating a cookie. What sin is that ? Oh, a great and immense and utterly imaginary sin. So how much greater does the cookie have to be than a mere cookie ? Oh, great and immense and utterly imaginary plus one.
And now you are here : let us sit and discuss the equation
great and immense and utterly imaginary < great and immense and utterly imaginary + epsilon
Figure out whether it is balanced or not and what all that "means" to "us". What do you think ? What values of epsilon ? Is coke > pepsi or not ? McCain or Osama ? Campbell's soup can to the left or Campbell's soup can to the right ? Magic! Magic! Magic! [↩]
- Or because it's easier to see the low value of a girl in general when it's not overwhelmed by significant sexual value in particular. [↩]
- But these aren't people, these are characters, in a movie.
Is the inability to distinguish people from characters in a movie more or less inexcusable in anyone than the inability to judge a mate's value in "abstract" terms, ie, unrelated to oneself ?
Not to put too fine a point on it : I get it, you fucked a teen. Good for you. No, nobody's all that impressed with it, because, objectively, it's not that big of a deal. Yes, I'm aware you're aware, but no, the transparent attempt to trade imaginary ethics violations for marginal increases in perceived hotness ain't gonna change anything. I'm not about to be more impressed with your sexual exploits for your harping as to their extreme sinfulness anymore than I'm going to be more interested in buying a used car for the salesman's harping about its extreme cheapness. [↩]
- Gimme a fucking break, original. What original ? This is the mode of defloration for the species' best and brightest since the dawn of time, by which I mean : if this isn't how you lost your maidenhead, you were a boring teenager. [↩]
- No, actually : Barber learned to lie for a penny. Which she does. [↩]
- I have a send-off here, but.... honestly, Ima take pity on the fool. [↩]