Before I moved to Los Angeles, I had an actor friend. He was studying hard, and finding money to get a degree in acting. I thought this was great, supported him, and proudly bought him his first black turtleneck.
“Wow! Thanks! I don’t know why, but actors DO wear black turtlenecks a lot.”
This was my beginning of understanding that you don’t have to be smart to be a good actor. I explained:
“If you are trying to act, you only use your face and the shape of your body. A black turtleneck shows those off perfectly. People can’t notice your emotions if they are distracted by a hawaiian shirt.”
A younger friend discovered that I am a fan of Beavis and Butthead. He said, “I have lost respect for you.”
Like I said, he is younger. For me in the 90s, Beavis and Butthead were so stupid cool that I couldn’t stop laughing. One of my friends frequently laughed so hard he turned purple.
You had to be there.
I mean, you really had to be there. What we didn’t admit but deep down we knew was that we were all Beavis and Butthead. They were trying SO HARD, and were so repulsive and so far from being cool. The parts they can’t run anymore are the parts where they watched the music videos and talked about them. In their wretched homes with completely absent parents they consumed nachos and music videos, and tortured the school when they attended.
Their lives were rather hopeless, which is what almost every felt like when we were young in the 90s.
Looking back it’s hard to believe. Things got better (thanks, internet).
And then they got a lot worse. Thanks, financial crisis.
But striking a pose did not survive the same way.
If Beavis was a generation X icon, Juno is a Millenial touchstone. And I can’t forget the big ending when Juno tells the baby daddy Paulie that he’s cool without even trying: “I try really hard actually.”
Admitting that you try is not something you could have admitted in the 90s.
Authenticity. Admitting who you are, what you believe and what you love. It’s the ‘in’ thing.
And yes, this is my opporunity to talk about The Russian American School of Tomorrow.
Memoirs are part of the new Authenticity. In 2006, Elizabeth Gilbert rocked the world with her story told in Eat Pray Love. Augusten Burroughs gave Running with Scissors to the world in 2002.
Right now, everyone wants to tell me about Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Is this what we are looking for now? Truth truth, told truly?
When I tell people about my memoir, I cringe. It is real embarrassing to talk about the stuff that happened in that book.
But it’s real.
Yes, the Millenials have embraced auto tune vocal music. Yes, the millenials have been avid consumers of that least realistic of mediums, Reality TV.
But no one is fooled. Everybody knows.
That’s what the memoir is about. We are all telling what we know.