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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Youth in Revolt (review)

Deliver Us from “Nice Guys”

Oh, someone deliver us from boys and their self-entitlement, boys and their cluelessness, boys and their rage when male privilege fails to extend itself toward them in a manner they deem proper. If boys don’t want to live in the world that the rest of us live in, well, howdy doody, tough noogies for you. The rest of us don’t always get what we want, either. Deal with it.

And please, horny teenaged lads — please — do not heed the “advice” of movies like Youth in Revolt, which mistakes being an unappealing doormat reeking of desperation (which girls don’t like) for being a genuinely nice guy (which girls do like), and believes the remedy for this situation is to become a felonious asshole, because girls find felonious assholes irresistible.

We don’t. Except the fake girls in movies like this.
Guys, seriously: Girls think it’s weird and creepy and wildly inappropriate when you tell them, five minutes after meeting them, that you love them, as Michael Cera’s (Year One, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) doofus high-schooler Nick Twisp does here. Girls are not charmed by the passive-aggressive excuse for your misdeeds that “everything [you] did was for her,” as Nick tells the cool, beautiful girl he’s infatuated with, Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday). Girls are generally not attracted to boys who entirely subsume their own personality by insisting that “[you] want what [she] wants.”

Except in ridiculous movies like this one, which appears not to hope that you will take it as satire but as merely a comedy with a slightly heightened sense of reality. Nick’s penchant for destroying automobiles, for instance, could have taken on some extra mocking oomph, perhaps as a commentary on acquisition and status symbols, but there’s nothing so witty going on here: it’s all just shit blowing up. It probably wouldn’t have been very effective as satire anyway — director Miguel Arteta appears to have forgotten that he once made a couple of pointed, truly oddball movies in The Good Girl and Chuck & Buck — though it might be less distasteful. Because the world really is full of boys like Nick — cute enough, but hardly, you know, Zac Efron or anything, and neither suave nor rich nor overly endowed with anything that boys like Nick think girls want in a boy — who all believe they nevertheless deserve to have the hottest girlfriend ever. For Nick, it’s just a coincidental bonus that Sheeni happens to share some of his outre interests, like classic pop music and foreign movies; he’d already fallen in love with her at first sight. Because she’s, you know, hot.

Perhaps the series of popular young-adult novels by C.D. Payne [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon U.K.] upon which this yawner of an adolescent wish-fulfillment fantasy is based is more daring than the movie scriptwriter Gustin Nash (Charlie Bartlett) wrung out of it. The gimmick, sorry as it is, of Nick’s alter ego taking the persona of “Francois Dillinger” is laughable, and not in the way it’s meant to be: Cera is a sweet presence, as always, but if he’s got even the slender dangerous streak a conceit like Francois requires to be effective onscreen, there’s no evidence of it here. Slapping a skinny moustache on Cera and letting a cigarette dangle from his lips ain’t doin’ it.

There’s nothing daring here, though someone clearly thinks there is, and conforming to conventional stereotypes about love and sex does not a “revolt” make. If only it held boneheaded notions of romance and relationships cherished by so many teens (and grownups!) up for the ridicule they so richly deserve, it might have been tolerable. But instead it reinforces them, to a depressingly predictable end.


MPAA: rated R for sexual content, language and drug use

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • Bill

    when this shows up on netflix watch instantly, i am gonna hafta check out what cera does with the alter ego schtick. cant…help…myself. the kid is like crack. so anyway, no surprises here, eh? oh well. i see ‘daybreakers’ got a green light so my heart is full.

    are the ‘nice guys (TM)’ and ‘Edward the Sparklepire’ like the cigarettes from the post about movies and vices? i was discussing these creepers with a friend who hearts these characters 4eva (though not necessarily the movies they appear in). but she was offended that i thought she might want one for her very own here in the real world. way too creepy and annoying in real life, she insisted. nothing mysterious here, i suppose. it’s the power of The Movies, afterall. i admit that it will be easier to stomach her swooning over these ridiculous characters given this revelation – this revelation that should really have been obvious to me.

  • JoshDM

    Deliver us from “Nice Guys”?

    What, was “Revolting Youths” too easy? :)

  • Awww…. too bad. The trailer had some good laughs if I recall.

  • Zack

    ‘Oh, someone deliver us from boys and their self-entitlement, boys and their cluelessness, boys and their rage when male privilege fails to extend itself toward them in a manner they deem proper. If boys don’t want to live in the world that the rest of us live in, well, howdy doody, tough noogies for you. The rest of us don’t always get what we want, either. Deal with it.’

    For some reason I get the idea that you don’t have kids, or a husband…

  • mark

    “Oh, someone deliver us from boys and their self-entitlement, boys and their cluelessness, boys and their rage when male privilege fails to extend itself toward them in a manner they deem proper”

    Wow, did you have alot of boy issues in High School or daddy problems? Either way it looks like they havent been resolved yet.

  • MaryAnn

    For some reason I get the idea that you don’t have kids, or a husband…

    I have never made any secret of the fact that I’m single and childless — by choice. What does that have to do with anything I’ve written here?

    Wow, did you have alot of boy issues in High School or daddy problems? Either way it looks like they havent been resolved yet.

    Really, please, what does that have to do with my review of this film?

  • LaSargenta

    From Zack:

    For some reason I get the idea that you don’t have kids, or a husband…

    From Mark:

    Wow, did you have alot of boy issues in High School or daddy problems? Either way it looks like they havent been resolved yet.

    Yeowzaa! Hmm…very similar monikers there, shweethearts.

    Well, just for good measure, I agree with MaryAnn and there are loads of men in my life, all of whom I have very good relations with.

    Sticks and stones, my dears. Sticks and stone. …wags finger at naughty boy…

  • Ha

    “Oh, someone deliver us from boys and their self-entitlement, boys and their cluelessness, boys and their rage when male privilege fails to extend itself toward them in a manner they deem proper. If boys don’t want to live in the world that the rest of us live in, well, howdy doody, tough noogies for you. The rest of us don’t always get what we want, either. Deal with it.”

    Your misandrist attitude is sickening. Grow up, MaryAnn.

  • Knightgee

    @Ha:

    Misandrist? Do you even know the meaning of the word, or did you just pick it up somewhere and decided to use it because it sounded smart? “Ha”, indeed.

  • Ano

    This reads less like a review and more like the rantings of a cartoonish she-bitch feminist. You know the exaggeration I’m referencing. Do you have hairy pits MaryAnn? If so, a movie review is hardly an effective place to promote your social agenda.

    This film is a farce that derives its comedy from the dissonance between the cosmopolitan attitudes and the totality of the inexperience of both the male and female lead. You have completely judged this movie on your preconceptions and totally ignored any important cinematic element that isnt what you disapproved of within the plot.

    Seriously, this is site about cinema, not relationships. Just as you admit to knowing nothing on the books on which the film is based, I admit to knowing nothing about your other musings; However, if you approach every piece of popular culture wearing the piss-yellow colored glasses that you are wearing now, I imagine you must be an insufferable person.

    Let this movie promote the misconceptions you seem so troubled with. In a few years it will be forgotten. You however will be propagating a much more comical and dangerous misconception for years to come if you continue with these “reviews.”

  • Ano

    Also, you have no sense of humor MaryAnn. You probably find Kathy comics hilarious.

  • @Ano: your comment reads less like a comment and more like a male who is terrified of women with opinions.

    also, you totally misread not only this reviewer’s attitudes, but those of women in general, if you think feminists think that “Kathy” is funny.

  • Knightgee

    @Ano:

    I do so love people like Ano, who claim to promote a “live and let live” philosophy while simultaneously trying to tell others what they should and shouldn’t do. Also, it’s interesting that you claim she should let this film pass because it will be forgotten, yet Maryanne’s viewpoint is dangerous? You want her not to critique the terrible message of this movie(which is kind of her job as a film critic), one that reinforces concepts of male entitlement and the idea that the only two options for men are either passive-aggressive clinginess or complete jerk behavior, while telling her that her viewpoint is the real detriment?

  • MaryAnn

    Do you have hairy pits MaryAnn?

    To paraphrase Han Solo, I musta hit pretty close to the mark to get him so riled up.

    Woo-hoo! Hairy pits! He got me good, didn’t he? I am properly chastised. Probably my overgrown armpit hair was wrapped around my neck, cutting off my air supply, and causing me to hallucinate a world in which the wants and needs of men trump all else.

    Do you think these guys — Ano, Mark, Zack — have any idea that they are reinforcing the very attitudes I’m complaining about? Or is it that they do realize this, and actively wish to reinforce those attitudes?

  • Mathias

    Right, ‘cuz it can’t be the this movie sheds a positive light on a twisted view of relationships, it’s gotta be that MaryAnn is a boy-hating-butch-lesbian.

    Seriously guys, grow up a little and join us when you’re ready to have an adult conversation about this film.

  • Steve

    “Oh, someone deliver us from boys and their self-entitlement, boys and their cluelessness, boys and their rage when male privilege fails to extend itself toward them in a manner they deem proper. If boys don’t want to live in the world that the rest of us live in, well, howdy doody, tough noogies for you. The rest of us don’t always get what we want, either. Deal with it.”

    Your misandrist attitude is sickening. Grow up, MaryAnn.

    Why is this misandryst? I’m a guy, and sometimes I *do* think that other guys are entitled or clueless. I have one friend who spent most of last year moping(sometimes drunk, sometimes not) because a girl he liked didn’t return his affection. Well, yes, buddy, maybe she didn’t go out with you because (a) you never actually asked her, instead you just (b) moped like a sick chicken ALL THE FRICKIN’ TIME. “But I’m so nice to her!” he would say; no, he wasn’t NICE, he was whiny and mopey. He felt entitled to have her as his girlfriend, which, um, no. And his response to the problem was to complain. I like hanging out with this guy to watch Star Trek and stuff, but man, keep him away from girls.

    That said, as a guy, when MaryAnn talks about “entitled boys”, I don’t like being lumped in with every other whiny boy on Earth. But I understand that a lot of boys do have the qualities she is complaining about, so I don’t take it entirely personally. And hey, sometimes I *do* act entitled and clueless and deserved to be lumped in with them (which, of course, is all the more reason why I don’t like it. No one likes admitting their mistakes. ;)

    If MaryAnn *always* talked about every boy as whiny and obnoxious and so and so forth, then yes, I would get offended. But she doesn’t, and I’m pretty sure the line you quote from her is a response just to this movie, its characters, and people like its characters…not a statement on ALL boys forever. I mean, come on, her Bias Watch has a “current boyfriend” entry on it – if she really hated all boys, she probably wouldn’t have that entry.

  • LaSargenta

    THIS IS THE NEXT QOTD!!!!

    Do you have hairy pits MaryAnn?

    rotflmao

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    I mean, come on, her Bias Watch has a “current boyfriend” entry on it – if she really hated all boys, she probably wouldn’t have that entry.

    Ah, yes, but it also has a “girl crush” entry on it, thereby proving that she is a hairy man-hating lesbian feminazi who talks about periods and stuff like that, to say nothing of the fact that her current girl crush is Vera Farmiga, whose extra half an inch of fat in Up in the Air makes her unworthy of love by anyone except mad communist bitches who think women’s feelings should be listened to and respected.

    Man, it’s so easy to be a wanker. Why did no-one tell me before?

  • Paul

    Actually, it would make sense for a straight woman to have a movie boyfriend if she couldn’t get along with men in her real life. Sort of like how I was wistful about the women in Jane Austen’s novels back in high school when girls only talked to me when they needed help with their homework. I have no idea if that actually applies to MA, because I know nothing about her personal life, but I’m just saying it’s not a contradiction to admire an ideal and not the real. Just ask Plato.

    And I remember a college discussion of a male feminist saying “Cathy” was sexist and a woman saying “but it’s so true” as they argued about the humor.

  • Paul

    I just had an odd thought. Are there basically there types of men in Hollywood: actors who get women because they are actors, directors/producers who get women via the casting couch, and writers who don’t?

    It shouldn’t surprise us that movies don’t understand women; the miracle is that any movies do.

    Just my generalization of the day.

  • LaSargenta

    You know, this is totally off-topic; but, sometime in this distant past, I realised that none of my girl or boy friends were Cathy fans and that I was confused by those people who thought it was funny. I wasn’t confused that they thought it was funny; but they were people who’s lives and interests just confused me. Is it a feminist distinction?

  • mortadella

    My goodness, the small pee-pee brigade has invaded the thread!

  • For some reason I get the idea that you don’t have kids, or a husband…

    It’s officially “Cheap and Easy Generalization Day.” No doubt sponsored by Duff Beer…

  • MaryAnn

    it’s not a contradiction to admire an ideal and not the real

    It’s also possible to enjoy fantasy while recognizing that it’s fantasy, and not letting it interfere with reality.

    Additionally, it’s also possible that some reality is worth bitching about. :->

  • Aaron

    Ever since watching “Happy go Lucky” and the intense character of Scott, I’ve resolved to try and let go of my anger over the things I can’t change lest I too become a bitter paranoid loner. It mostly works, except when I run into cretins like the ones here. Then I have trouble holding down my impotent rage at this shallow callow society and popular culture that makes ignorant sexist infants out of men (and women).

    I always enjoy your reviews MaryAnn and we seem to have very similar taste in movies your dislike of “It’s a Wonderful Life” aside.
    As to the film at hand, well, after “Knocked Up” came out I decided not to watch another film where a schlubby loser male gets the hot woman until I see a wide release with the opposite senario (and no, the loser female can’t be secretly hot).

  • In that case, you need to rent Harold and Maude, Aaron. The not-so-hot woman even gets to get married to the guy. ;-)

    SPOILERS for Happy Go Lucky:

    All kidding aside, Happy Go Lucky is a film I suspect more people should watch if for no other reason than the way it deals with the Scott character. Most movies would have either made the guy a lovable grump or punished the heroine for disagreeing with him so often. The movie chose to take a course that was refreshingly different for a change. And geez, the anger the one movie has evoked from people on the IMDB. Perhaps that Scott character struck a nerve. Much like MaryAnn’s review.

  • MaryAnn

    In that case, you need to rent Harold and Maude, Aaron. The not-so-hot woman even gets to get married to the guy. ;-)

    Well, except the guy’s not exactly hot, and the movie’s not exactly recent. Well worth seeing, of course, but it’s hardly indicative of the current state of Hollywood.

    Ditto on the *Happy-Go-Lucky* rec, too… particularly for how it deals with its “nice guy.”

  • RogerBW

    I find myself less concerned by the putative man-hating going on here and more amused by how easily someone’s nerve has been touched.

    (Oh, sorry, the nerves of several people with identical writing styles.)

    Clearly since MaryAnn does not have bound feet or a plate in her lip she is No True Woman.

  • Movie Fan

    This critic has no balls as they say in the title, but there is middle ground. Girls are attracted to bad boy types(I’ve fallen in love with women only to be left for a guy who treats the object of affection like dirt). For all you people that take the word of a critic(Who probably flunked out of film school)your missing a unique view of the world>

  • MaryAnn

    Girls are attracted to bad boy types(I’ve fallen in love with women only to be left for a guy who treats the object of affection like dirt).

    *Some* girls may be attracted to assholes. But do you really want a woman with such low self-esteem, Movie Fan? Don’t you think you were saved from a life of hell with such a wounded woman?

    Please do tell us what “unique view of the world” you’re referring to, though. I’m dying to know.

  • MaryAnn

    That said, as a guy, when MaryAnn talks about “entitled boys”, I don’t like being lumped in with every other whiny boy on Earth.

    I wasn’t intending to lump all males into one group. But if you’re a male who has the sense of entitlement that “nice guys” have, then yes, you’re a boy, no matter what your age. The *only* defense for clinging to the kind of attitude on display in this film is if a male really is still chronologically a child… but then this film reinforces that attitude by — SPOILER! — having the self-entitled jerk win the perfect girl of his dreams as a result of his childish behavior, which derives from his childish philosophy.

    Or else one must see this movie as a portrait of a budding sociopath… but there’s no evidence that *the filmmakers* believe that’s what they’re offering.

  • jessica

    It’s this kind of commentary that sets young women my age back in the work place and in philosophical conversation. You don’t have to go picking a fight with men just because some movie based on a book features a lonely boy selfishly having a girl kicked out of school to be with him. Is it really male self entitlement to think he deserves a woman, atleast one?!?

    Hormones are hormones, and I found this movie to be hilarious.

  • amanohyo

    jessica, she’s only picking a fight with whiny, immature, self-proclaimed nice guys, not men in general. How could this type of commentary possibly set young women back in the workplace? If anything, a straightforward critical response helps to shake manboys out of the self-entitled, self-centered stupor reinforced by movies like this. Anyone at your workplace that would lower their opinion of you because they don’t agree with a movie review written by a person you don’t even know doesn’t deserve to be called an adult.

  • Knightgee

    Actually Jessica, it is male self-entitlement to think he deserves a woman whom he knows nothing about aside from the fact that she’s pretty, simply because he’s a “nice guy”. It’s a ridiculous notion that asserts the idea that it doesn’t matter whether she actually has feelings for him or likes him or not, but that she should be obligated to love him because he’s been nice to her and he’s thus “earned” her devotion.

  • Patrick

    I don’t mean to be off base here. And maybe I read your review wrong. But, you seem to be pigeon-holing a group of people that, at the very least need a bit more differentiation–if we’re just talking about “a group”.

    I feel the need to point out that not all men who are awkward around women are acting or trying to be duplicitous, creepy, offensive, or secretly dangerous.

    Some have genuine anxiety disorders. Some have had no mentoring from a male role model on how to be confident around the opposite sex. And some, I have to say, are just shy. Guys have feelings too. And those who are shy are most often just average (not Randian demi-gods) who do the best can. It takes a tremendous amount of courage for a shy gentleman (I stress “gentleman” not some lecherous jerk) to ask a woman out, because, more likely than not, they have they’ll promptly rip the man’s feelings to ribbons, when a polite “no thank you” would suffice. I mean, if they’re not being dishonest or infringing on anyone’s rights; what’s the big to-do?

    And having a sense of hope is not a sense of “entitlement”. One could hope to win a million dollars in the lottery. That doesn’t mean one is going to rob a bank and steal that million if I don’t get it– *that* would be “entitlement”. Hope is what keeps the average guy going while waiting for someone willing to look a little deeper than looks and abilities–like the content of their character.

    Sorry to soapbox.

  • Knightgee

    I don’t think MaryAnn is trying to suggest that all men are like this, but is saying that these types of movies send the message that the only options for men are to be either complete jerks who disrespect women or “nice guys”, who are really just socially awkward, needy individuals who think their clingy devotion should be met with sex from whatever beautiful girl they happen to be hanging onto at the time. Also, the idea that most women will rib a “gentlemen” who asks them out instead of politely turning him down is just as much of an unfair pigeon-holing as the one you accuse MaryAnn of employing.

    This conversation reminds me of this xkcd strip:

    http://xkcd.com/513/

  • Patrick

    ^^
    You make a good point. Maybe it was the tone of the review that was off-putting and my knee-jerk defenses went into overdrive. And if that is the case, then apologies all around.

  • Hank Bennet

    MaryAnne,

    I think you’re a great reviewer. You’ve also got a real purdy mouf. Wanna hang out sometime?

    Love,

    Hank

  • Pedro

    hoo boy…here we go again.

    it’s always like this, isn3t it, MaryAnn? every time a movie about guys like me comes around, you say the same thing and I say the same thing.

    well not this time, darlin’. this time i’m just going to say that being “suave and rich and whatever” is not what EVERY woman looks for in a “boy”, but it is what SOME women look for in “boys”.

    ditto with looking like Zac Efron. Hey, if I had blue eyes, I would kinda have looked like Zac Efron when I was 17 – would girls have touched me then? ‘Cause they sure didn’t, even though I reckon I look a little like Ben Affleck and a little like Tobey Maguire, who are supposed to be “hot guys”.

    and as for “make yourself an asshole”, believe it or not, that’s the advice i heard during high school, from dudes who were somewhat popular with chicks. not “bros”, i never hung out with “bros” – just guys who managed to catch a break now and then. and hey, it worked for them, so they couldn’t have been entirely wrong.

    i’ll admit i was a bit of a doormat, and i definitely reeked of desperation. i still am, and still do, although much less than before. but i also used to be a genuinely nice kid, not at all “unappealing”, just a little odd and different, like most teenagers. and it took me nowhere. so maybe the message this movie is sending is wrong TO YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC, or MINE, but it sure as hell isn’t wrong for the demographic it’s AIMED AT.

    in case you forgot, teenage girls are the shallowest creatures in existence. so it seems only right that she would go for the “new, made-over” Cera rather than “the original, being-himself” Cera. because no matter what Disney movies may have ingrained in your soul during your childhood, during teenhood, “being yourself” just won’t cut it. me and my everlasting virginity are living proof.

  • LaSargenta

    Well, Pedro, I have this total inability to keep myself from telling you that if you had said

    teenage girls are the shallowest creatures in existence

    to me when I was 13 or 14 or 15 I would have probably have found myself in jail for losing it and going neanderthal on your ass and you would at the minimum have been in ICU because I was actually very effective in my violence.

    Fortunately, I am now over 40 and I regularly attend Quaker Meeting.

    Please tell me you actually meant that as some kind of sarcasm.

    Otherwise, I am going to think that you are indeed exactly the kind of “Nice Guy ™” that MaryAnn is writing about because you seem to have no ability to extend your self-pitying naval gazing to imagine that just as many of the girls are just as desperate, terrified and full of longing as the boys you’re describing.

    Hmm?

  • Pedro

    Let me rephrase it here:

    “ATTRACTIVE AND POPULAR teenage girls are, etc”.

    Of course it’s not all of them! I used to hang out with the “ugly” group from my class. All but one of them were actually ugly, all but one of them were dead nice. Tell me the two aren’t correlated?

    I know girls are sometimes confused and lonesome too. But that type of girl tends not to get much by way of boyfriends, either, am i right?

    And yes, I led myself to the inevitable conclusion that TEENAGE BOYS ARE SHALLOW TOO. OMG, really?!

    (NOW it’s sarcasm… :) )

  • Pedro

    and then there are somewhat attractive girls who are also not shallow, but who either lack self-confidence or just don’t care about boys.

    case in point: my sister, who, as a freshman in college, is just now starting to flirt and get flirted with, and “starting to become aware of boys” (her words).

    by the way, the correction I made does not negate the whole rest of my original post.

  • LaSargenta

    Pedro, yer digging in deeper here.

    I think the problem here is all about perception.

    Honestly? My observations, many of which were only really usefully categorized and analysed AFTER I was a teen — like when I was 20-something with time on my hands — told me that actually EVEN the so-called attractive and popular kids were deeply insecure and worried. They just somehow had the luck and skills to hide it.

    EVERY woman I know, even the ones who were cheerleaders and homecomming queens, sees Big (that movie with Tom Hanks from ’88) and hears that pivotal exchange at the end where Susan asks Josh how old he actually is. She then says, after a spasm passes over her face, “I wouldn’t repeat those years for anything.”

    And by the way, I was attractive. And, for what it is worth, I was “popular” (whatever that really means) with the people who’s opinions I respected and I didn’t give a shit about those I didn’t respect. Does that mean YOU would have thought I was “attractive and popular”? I dunno, and, frankly, the more I’m reading, the less I care.

  • LaSargenta

    Whoops, delayed posting leads to out-of-order thoughts!

    and then there are somewhat attractive girls who are also not shallow, but who either lack self-confidence or just don’t care about boys.

    And then there’s the fucking sexy smartasses who hate the cheerleaders, play ice hockey with boys outside of school, kick ass in the chemistry lab and have total contempt for people who hang around wanting me to complete them because I’ve got enough problems of my own at home and I’m just treading water until I can legally get the fuck out and sign a contract without a parent as co-signer and l.e.a.v.e.!

  • LaSargenta

    typo and correction

    , sees Big (that movie with Tom Hanks from ’88) and hears that pivotal exchange at the end where Susan asks Josh how old he actually is.

    That sentence should have continued with “…and gasps or nods in agreement”.

  • Pedro

    yeah, i heard that line about the popular kids being insecure too. i never bought it, and still don’t.

    true, a lot of my perceptions have changed (read: now i see i was an asshole trying to copy other assholes who were assholes in different ways than me, and all we were was a bunch of dumb clueless kids). nowadays, i can admit that yes, i WASN’T the be-all, end-all of intelligence and maturity. rather the contrary, as I just said. a lot of things I believed have since been disproven in hindsight, too.

    but i will never EVER buy that stuff about how “jocks have issues too”. every TV show tries to feed us that tripe, and so did my Mum back then, and so do you now. but i will refute it aptly using ONE simple argument:

    WHAT THE FUCK DO THOSE KIDS HAVE TO BE INSECURE ABOUT!?

    i mean, think about it. their daddies pay for school, cars, bikes, helmets, clothes, football, playstation 3, blackberries, ipods, whatever. the hottest girls/boys in school grovel at their feet, and so do most of the rest of them; they always have the best clothes and the best hair and the best stuff, and they’re always in with the trends. so what the hell!?!? issues!? what issues!?

    now, a kid who was a nerd wishing he WASN’T a nerd, trying to support Mum and help raise little sister while Dad became more and more of an asshole, seeing moderately attractive girls not even TALK to him, and instead date the people described in the above paragraph, never having any of the in clothes because Mum did not believe in such practices, not having playstation because he could only get it if he raised enough money, and he never did, sucky at sports, wearing oversized Slipknot t-shirts and not able to walk down a single hallway without someone (sometimes a SEVENTH GRADER) mocking him…

    …THOSE are issues.

    oh, and did i mention this kid (let’s call him Totally Not Me) had a crush on an older and insanely beautiful and insanely popular girl? who he managed to make friends with, but then acted nerdish around? who didn’t even remember his NAME!? and the friendhsip with whom was broken by scheming manoeuvres from someone Not Me thought he could trust?

    …yeah, high school is hell, and i WOULDN’T repeat those years either. except if this time i could do them from the other side of the fence and be a nerd-mocking, bike-riding, babe-bagging popular guy.

  • Pedro

    sorry. my whiny, emo, self-deprecating woe-is-me 17.year-old side just resurfaced.

    it does every time a discussion like this comes about.

    i will allow my 24-year-old reasonable mature side to take over again now.

    (but FUCKSAKES, i’m nearly 25 and still a virgin!!!!)

  • LaSargenta

    Yeah, everyone has insecurities. Especially in high school. One of the most ignorant people I met was the unbelievably materially privileged daughter of a former dictator. I despised her father through the newspapers (I’m lucky enough to have been born and raised in the US and never personally come in contact with his regime). Interestingly, she was also smart enough to realize that she was missing a whole lot of the world: This made her cripplingly shy in classes. I didn’t want to be friends, but I did acknowledge that she was human and had her own path to walk. Maybe her father didn’t do that for people, but, I wasn’t going to sink that low. I also was not about to be jealous of her.

    Go ahead. Stay angry at those people. Fill your emotional space with that. It won’t get you anything in the long run.

  • JoshB

    WHAT THE FUCK DO THOSE KIDS HAVE TO BE INSECURE ABOUT!?

    Have you thought about asking one of them?

    Do you think you could muster up enough interest in another person to let them challenge your judgements about their life?

  • Since I haven’t seen the film, I’m not going to get into the argument that’s been raging.

    What I do have a problem with is that this film is set in California towns & cities, but filmed in Michigan?!? I mean Oakland, Clear Lake and Santa Cruz (not sure where else the film takes us) are all decent places to film – and could even pass for recent history in some places (if you need to go back a few decades.)

    Maybe this rant goes along with MAJ’s comment in her “Leap Year” review about UK geography. It’s bad enough that (some) people on the East coast think it’s no problem to do a day-trip to LA from San Francisco, but now films like this are presenting unreasonable images of these places by filming them elsewhere!!!

    [this may have been a rant where the tongue and the cheek met, but I’m not positive about that…]

  • Paul

    My ex-therapist asked me once if I would relive my high school life if I could. I asked if I could keep my black belt. She smiled, nodded, and moved on to other issues.

    But seriously, my success with American women/girls who have observed my capacity for violence is 75% (yes, I did the math) but otherwise I’m pretty much Clark Kent, but they don’t mind as long as they know what kind of tights I have on underneath.

    (Of course, this was back before self-defense could get you expelled from school.)

    On the other hand, you’re more likely to see Chinese girls attracted to boys who are good students, because passing exam after exam is the ladder to a middle class life 3/4 of Chinese are still aiming for. Unfortunately, the girls are still judged by appearance.

    Which leads me to wonder if there is some sort of Maslow’s heirarchy to sexual attraction, a pyrimid of standards. First, you have to have the basics which are generally agreed upon because biologically we’re all pretty much the same, then as you work your way up you have more individualized, self-realized characteristics that narrow the options (assuming you have bothered to individualize yourself; if you haven’t, then any pretty body will do, or so you think).

    Each of you readers probably have a heirarchy of requirements in a potential mate, and since we’re not telepaths that starts on the outside and works its way inward. And we are products of evolution, and the “higher” forebrain came last so seems to vote last too, which not only explains our sexual relations but also our foreign policy for the last 200+ years.

  • Have you thought about asking one of them?

    Do you think you could muster up enough interest in another person to let them challenge your judgements about their life?

    I suspect a lot of twentysomethings I know would ask Pedro what exactly he has to be insecure about. Is he trapped in a bad marriage? Pregnant out of wedlock? Infected with a STD? HIV-positive? Having to support a wife and child on a just-above-poverty-level salary? A victim of domestic violence? Having to stay up late to stay care of a sick child? Having to pay a large fraction of his salary for daycare and other child-related expenses?

    Oh, the grass is definitely not always greener on the other side of the fence.

    I’m not saying Pedro should be happy with his current situation but he should try getting a sense of perspective.

  • Pedro

    Tonio, very good point. I will admit, my life is generally pretty good. I’m just starting to become eligible for non-shitty, if short-term, jobs; I’m definitely getting handsomer; I’m a little more popular than six years ago…like I always said, if it wasn’t for that ONE small detail, I’d be happy.

    Unfortunately, that one small detail is one GIGANTIC detail for most potential partners. I know, I’ve been there and seen the disbelieving looks.

  • scurvy

    I feel the need to point out that not all men who are awkward around women are acting or trying to be duplicitous, creepy, offensive, or secretly dangerous.

    Some have genuine anxiety disorders. Some have had no mentoring from a male role model on how to be confident around the opposite sex. And some, I have to say, are just shy.

    Having excuses for acting “duplicitous, creepy, offensive, or secretly dangerous” doesn’t mean you’re not doing it, no matter what you’re trying. Intention doesn’t equal action; how you act is defined by its perception.

  • LaSargenta

    A non-theoretical, non-sociological post here.

    Unfortunately, that one small detail is one GIGANTIC detail for most potential partners. I know, I’ve been there and seen the disbelieving looks.

    Maybe you are putting too much weight on that one thing.

    There are options with regard to this if looked at in a purely problem-solving way. Please bear with me.

    (1) I gather that lots or possibly the majority of 20-somethings (oh, jezus! don’t I sound like an old fogey!) meet via online dating sites. So, add that to your profile…write a nice bit about how you haven’t found that special someone, or some other way of looking at it that is true for you. There must be more to it than high school problems. You could dig around and look at your thoughts about sexual relations in general and see where this fits. There are women who might be intrigued and, no, I don’t think that all of them would be either cougars looking to “deflower” nor religious no-sex-before-marriage people. Perhaps, too, people who fit those categories might be perfectly suited for you in other ways and you’d end up meeting someone you like. And, anyhow, if I was in that position and considered this such a big part of my being and situation, not mentioning it would be difficult. Putting it up front might make the later conversations easier.

    (2) You could hire someone. Yes, I realise that in most places this is illegal. Some places it is not and, in my opinion, that is a good thing. Sex workers are actually a varied bunch, generally DON’T resemble what we see in movies and television, and I have known several people over the years in this business and they took their work and their clients seriously. They also have no problem with having saf(er) sex, unlike an awful lot of hook-ups and boy/girlfriends. In addition, they tend to have a broad skill set and can be tutors if one is interested in learning.

    Of course, there are lots of reasons that (2) might not be for you. However, looking at this purely from a rational perspective, it is a possibility.

  • JennMT

    To Pedro: You are only just beginning to get a sense of perspective about high school. Try getting out of your head with it; the more nuerotic pressure you put on these things, the worse they hurt you. It’s been 11 years for me since HS. Believe me, you DO stop caring. Relaxing will also help your luck with the ladies, too. :)

    One aside, you are very wrong in that the only people with problems were the “outcasts”. The ‘popular’ jocks and gals all had their own little red wagons of insecurities/troubles. One of my best friends dated our school quarterback for years. He, being the big, popular football player, went home to a father who raped his younger sister and put so much pressure on him to “be the best” he went on to have a breakdown and attempt suicide 4 years out of school. Mr. Football Player also cheated on my friend (the Homecoming Queen & one of the best looking girls in the school) many times, which wrecked her self-esteem. I was not exactly a slouch myself, but battled an eating disorder for years. I could go on…

    It doesn’t matter who you are, teenage years are hard. Perspective is important, and don’t focus so much on yourself. Even if it’s for a “bad” reason, it still makes you self-absorbed. Recovering from an eating disorder, I know of what I speak—get out of your own head.

    Oh, and about the movie: I will pass. Michael Cera’s schtick is getting old, and since he looks like Jane Lynch, I don’t believe he would win over “hot” teenage girls, anyway. Male-fantasy wish-fufillment, indeed.

  • Dokeo

    @ Pedro
    ‘I used to hang out with the “ugly” group from my class. All but one of them were actually ugly, all but one of them were dead nice. Tell me the two aren’t correlated?’

    Pedro, did you ever ask one of the “ugly” girls for a date? Since you hung out together, one presumes you got to know each other, maybe had things in common, maybe even enjoyed each other’s company. These are reasonable things on which to base a relationship. I’m afraid, though (and correct me if I’m making an unfair assumption) that the girls you hung out with were not “hot” enough to date.

    This encapsulates the entiltement MAJ mentions in her review – even a self-described nerdy shy boy thinks, somehow, that he DESERVES the super-hot popular girl. Well, if every boy deserves that, I’m sorry – the math just doesn’t work, Pedro, as you found out.

    His experience is a clear example of how our culture’s deep-seated sexism hurts everyone — not just women. Pedro probably saw his fair share of TV shows and movies with the same message as Youth In Revolt. They taught him that the most important characteristic in a girlfriend is her looks. So he ignored the “ugly” girls, pined and brooded over the lack of the “hot” girls he deserved, and was lonely. It’s really, really sad.

  • JennMT

    the most important characteristic in a girlfriend is her looks. So he ignored the “ugly” girls, pined and brooded over the lack of the “hot” girls he deserved, and was lonely. It’s really, really sad.

    Good point. The “nerdy” guys are supposed to be appreciated for their quirks and inner person. What about the “homely”, brilliant and funny girls? Where are their movies?

  • JennMT

    Oops… meant to block quote my first paragragh!

  • LaSargenta

    What about the “homely”, brilliant and funny girls? Where are their movies?

    Dog Fight. But, it was really River Phoenix’s movie.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Now, how did I miss a juicy Nice Guy ™ debate?? Haha.

    A lot of people here had some really great advice for Pedro. You know, Pedro, I used to be sort of the inverse of the Nice Guy: the Nice Girl! Clingy, moody, insecure to the max. I’d secretly long for my guy friends or, more frequently, some popular dude who didn’t know I existed and lament when they failed to notice me. I had this weird oxymoron going on: paralyzing low self-esteem while inwardly believing myself to be the best person in the whole world. When I wasn’t pining for someone, I’d live in my head, shutting everyone else out. Plainly, I had a bad attitude, and I was pretty insufferable. Sure, I was nice on the surface. I’d smile and act very shy, projecting “please like me!” body language.

    So here’s some things I’ve learned at the ripe old age of 30-something. Take ’em or leave ’em.

    1) Happiness comes when you stop trying to control others. It’s so simple, but SO hard to practice. Simply put, you CANNOT make other people like you, or control how they react to you. Women (or men) don’t respond the way you think they should? Too bad. They are humans with free agency. All you can do is control YOU and how you choose to react to their reactions.

    2) Let go of the fantasy. As a girl, I was always the heartbrakEE, never the heartbreakER. I realized that part of why I longed for unattainable boys is that, for ONCE, I wanted to have the power of having someone head-over-heels crazy for me. Having no power, socially, I longed to have power over a boy above my “station”. Maybe I would date him and have him fall all over me, and if I ever dumped him it’d break him apart! It was an intoxicating fantasy for a social pariah like me. There were times I had genuine feelings, like for one of my guy friends, but even then I never revealed my intentions. I was in love with the FANTASY of love, but I ran screaming from any real intimacy or friendship.

    3) “They” are not legion. Drop the generalizing. “All” women are not x, “all” men are not y. There are reasons why subsets, like “Queen Bee” or “Jock” remain in the teenage world: these are very immature ways of looking at human beings. When you are stuck inside your own head and actively avoiding any real, intimate human contact, it is easy to lump everyone into easy stereotypes. Once you convince yourself that “All X are Y”, you refuse to believe people (like JennMT above on the fact that popular people experience pain, too) who say otherwise and dig ever deeper into your own self-absorbed view of the world. It’s easier to let go of your stereotypes once you…

    4) Get some perspective. And JennMT was right on. We ALL experience pain and suffering sometimes. We are all human. Even the most outwardly shallow “douchebag” or “bimbo”. Does this mean you must love and associate with everyone? No, there will be those you just don’t click with. One person’s Douchebag is another’s BFF 4Eva. Also, no one likes a “one-upper”. If you are convinced that YOUR pain is the most supreme, you will (perhaps even unconsciously) dominate conversations and continually discount other people’s trials and tribulations. And, um, that doesn’t make for a very good friend.

    Sorry for the length. Maybe I should start my own damn blog instead of writing my books here. :)

  • LaSargenta

    Now, how did I miss a juicy Nice Guy ™ debate?? Haha.

    I was wondering where you were!

    And, BINGO!

    Simply put, you CANNOT make other people like you, or control how they react to you.

    All so true. I remind myself of this pretty much every day in so many contexts.

  • Bluejay

    1) Happiness comes when you stop trying to control others. It’s so simple, but SO hard to practice […] All you can do is control YOU and how you choose to react to their reactions.

    Funny, I was just talking to my daughter about that very concept today. (She gets inordinately upset when some kids in her class don’t behave as nicely as she feels they should.) You’re right, it IS hard to practice, even as an adult, but the more I get the hang of it the better I feel. Great insight.

    Maybe I should start my own damn blog instead of writing my books here. :)

    I’d read it.

  • Orangutan

    I’d read it.

    Seconded. Make it so.

  • Accounting Ninja

    This encapsulates the entiltement MAJ mentions in her review – even a self-described nerdy shy boy thinks, somehow, that he DESERVES the super-hot popular girl. Well, if every boy deserves that, I’m sorry – the math just doesn’t work, Pedro, as you found out.

    I’ve seen this sad entitlement personally. They get affronted, like “so you’re saying I have to just SETTLE for some fat, fugly chick?!?!blargle”

    :facepalm:

    As if the advice were just a secret scheme of lonely fat fugly girls to “trick” you into dating them.

    It’s not “settling”, because there is a subtle nuance these guys (and some girls too!) fail to grasp.
    Most of us are not “attractive”, in that Hollywood way. There are some very attractive people, sure, but the majority of us are hairy, heavy/skinny, wonky and imperfect. But still, we fall in love and have sex. And even, over time, start finding the people we love to be our definition of attractive.

    My husband is tall, skinny, and nerdy. But wouldn’t you believe it that after all these years, he has so heavily influenced what I find “sexy” that now most of the men I am drawn to have at least something of HIM in them that strikes me. Generic beefcake rarely moves me now. It’s not always physical, either.
    He says the same thing about me, btw. When a woman turns his head, most of the time something about her reminds him of me.

    Not 100% of the time, mind you, but most of the time.

    The problem for Nice Guys is that they miss this nuance. They are so focused on finding a girl “right off the rack” that fits into their preconceived little box of acceptable “woman qualities” that they miss a lot of other women. These women really are invisible to them, because they don’t even register a blip on the radar.

    In a nutshell, the concept of “getting more beautiful over time” is lost to them until they realize what they are doing.

  • Paul

    The idea that you can’t make someone like you is where reality and fiction end up head butting. Genre writers, and romance is a genre, are taught to use a fail, fail, win cycle to build up drama. And each failure is supposed to make the ultimate win even harder and therefore more dramatic.

    Thus you get the romantic try/fail cycle in “Dead Poets Society” which I just saw again for the first time in almost twenty years, so it’s fresh in my mind. The boy, newly inspired by poetry, attempts to woo a girl he met at a dinner. She basically likes him but has a b/f. He calls, she invites him to a party, she’s half asleep, he kisses her forehead, her b/f beats him up and kicks him out. That’s try/fail one. He shows up at her school with flowers and a poem he reads to her in front of her class; she gets mad this time. That’s try/fail two. She warns him that her b/f is hunting for him, he convinces her to join him for a play, and they end up one a date and hold hands. That’s try/win.

    Realistic? No. A model for teen behavior? No. But follows the rules of drama taught in writing courses? Yes. That this is merely a subplot to the try/fail,try/fail, try/fail plot of the main character is why this movie is so bittersweet at the end.

  • Accounting Ninja

    The problem I have with that convention is it removes the agency of the “prize” person, most often a woman. I’ve never seen Dead Poet’s Society, but to me, it sounds ghastly. Does she even have any thoughts of her own? It is all about the chasing guy and the boyfriend, a pissing contest between only them. She’s just a pawn in their games. How did she feel about her boyfriend beating up the guy? Plus, it’s dishonest: it always paints the romantic “loser” (the bf in this case) as an irredeemable asshole to make you feel better about the hero “winning” the girl.

    Besides, just because something is convention does not mean 1)it’s good and 2)it’s a model for real life. Mature people realize that a movie like that is not real life. Despite what we all thought and were fed as kids, we are all adults here, and so is Pedro upthread.

  • LaSargenta

    Agency, schmagency. Its a giiiiiirrrrlll. Who cares what her opinions are in the thing. It’s all about the … oh, nvrmnd.

  • Pedro

    Dokeo:

    Yes, you ARE wrong. There was one girl. She was the Hermione Granger to my Harry Potter (we had a Ron Weasley, too!). Back then, everyone was like “hey, you two are EXACTLY alike, you two should date!” and i did consider it, but I – and I’m being completely honest and sincere here – thought it would ruin “our thing”. We had like a mindset together, where I could talk to her about being insanely horny, make fart jokes, talk about “guy stuff”, etc… and not feel awkward about it. I was afraid a relationship would ruin that.

    A few years later, at the height of my desperation, I DID ask her. she turned me down. I was jerky – I only asked her because I thought it was an “easy” solution – and I deserved the neg. Still, both her subsequent boyfriends (the first was an older guy, like 12 years older) have been clones of me. The last one I knew of was EXACTLY like me, except no glasses and trance instead of hard rock. Coincidence? I’d say NOT.

    To whoever suggested the two possible solutions: (1) I have done, to no avail. (2) I refuse to do, because for me, validation is part of the process. As in “I hooked this girl up, using MY arguments and MY personality and MY points in favour”. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to look my mum or little sister in the eye again.

    As for the quarterback story, that’s creepy. But kids at my school seemed pretty self-satisfied and smug. Especially the girls.

    Anyway, guys and dudettes, thanks for not bashing this virgin nerd too much :) I am honest when I say that I’m learning from experience, but I have always been one to hold grudges. Besides, most 20-something I know still behave like 15-year-olds, in terms of how they judge a person (ANY person, beautiful or not, popular or not) and what they look for in social relations. That irks me somewhat. Heck, I myself am at a mental age of about 18 or so, but I like to think I’m still a little more mature than them.

    (Fun fact: a guy I know is about 11 mentally – seriously, he throws tantrums and cares only for PS2 and soccer matches. He has one of the nicest girls I’ve ever known for a girlfriend. Not super-hot, but pretty, charming, friendly, and didn’t judge me or any of my friends straight off the bat when she first met us. If I had one like that, I’d forget my bachelor vows and CLING ON to her. Same with my best friend’s girl, who is ugly as sin, but a very nice person, and whom I keep telling my friend to treat right and be careful with, because he won3t get another like her. So see? I’m learning!)

    Excuse the rambling post. Back to work I go…

  • Pedro

    Accounting Ninja:

    Eerie…your description of yourself during high school is my description of myself during high school.

    Creepy…

  • Pedro

    Excuse triple post, but I have to disagree with whoever said that most people aren’t “Hollywood beautiful”. Every time I see a tall, curvy, clear-eyed, supermodel-looking blonde on the subway I ask myself whether it is fair to have so many gorgeous women and so few gorgeous men to “get” them.

    I know, it’s shallow, but so are they sometimes. And let’s be realistic – it’s not as though a guy like me would ever get a girl like THAT. (Different interests, if not different priorities – she may be looking for looks, experience, and empty brains, neither of which I possess).

    Except maybe in Sweden. I heard shortish brunette males are in high demand among the shapely blondes there, for some reason… :)

  • Pedro

    Again: quadruple post here, bu I just remembered something. I do have a bit of that feeling of “entitlement” you girls talked about. Mine’s a variation: like i always say, “I can only do what turns me on”. This is a crass way of putting it, but basically, i am only interested in women who turn me on – and not just physically. I’ve had feelings for regular-looking and even ugly girls who, for one reason or another, excited and provoked me. usually, it’s their attitude or the intellectual challenge.

    however, when a girl has a “lovely personality”, but is not a – pretty or hot; b – intlectually defying to make up for the lack of pretiness/hotness, then i feel like I shouldn’t “settle” for her “just ’cause”. Even though I am not abnormally attractive and have even been construed as ugly, and even though I am somewhat dorkish. But some women ARE below my standards, both physically and/or intelectually.

    know what I’m saying, ladies?

    the problem with “most” attractive women is that the “intellectually” portion usually doesn’t come into play. again, I’m sure there are loads of exceptions, but usually girls and women who know they’re coveted/desired have the “you’re not hawt, so fuck you” type of thing going on.

  • Bluejay

    But some women ARE below my standards, both physically and/or intelectually.

    Perhaps some women feel the same way about you. If you don’t blame yourself for that kind of attitude, why would you blame them?

    Pedro, I hope this doesn’t come off as rude, but you seem to be making a lot of sweeping generalizations and assumptions about “types” of people. Maybe you’ll feel better when you just let go of these assumptions and try to get to know more women better, one on one. You might be surprised at how different people actually are, how much lies below the surface that they project, and how many aspects of people you might unexpectedly find attractive.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Pedro, holding grudges about the past is born from feeling powerless and anger at that powerlessness.

    None of us can change the past. People were nasty to us. Maybe our parents were jerks. For me, at the time, I had neither the confidence nor the courage to EVER stick up for myself. As I headed into my 20s, this made me more and more ANGRY. Because I STILL let people walk all over me, even after high school when all that stuff supposedly gets better.

    There’s only 2 places to go with this, really. The first option is to continue nursing that anger and believe that you are the victim. Obsess over the past while still continuing to lack confidence in the here and now, further fueling the anger into a vicious cycle.

    Or, learn my #1 up there. REALLY take it to heart. You can’t control others, and you can’t change the past. The more you accept this, the better you will feel. Do this while building your confidence in the here and now. As you get more confident, the little stings caused by other hurt less and you’ll find your grudges don’t last as long. One day you’ll find that you can stick up for yourself when it’s inportant, or, if it isn’t, you can let it go with a laugh and a shrug.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Sorry for the double post, but Pedro, I said MOST people aren’t Hollywood attractive. And it’s true. I never said those attractive people didn’t exist at all, just that they are in the minority. You notice the curvy blonde, of course, but there are myriads of people who pass through your vision every day that go undetected. Also, you happen to be in the age group with the most conventionally attractive people (the 20s). As you get older, the number will diminish.

    Also, let’s look at some quotes:

    (Different interests, if not different priorities – she may be looking for looks, experience, and empty brains, neither of which I possess).

    the problem with “most” attractive women is that the “intellectually” portion usually doesn’t come into play. again, I’m sure there are loads of exceptions, but usually girls and women who know they’re coveted/desired have the “you’re not hawt, so fuck you” type of thing going on.

    Now, you seem to be making assumtions about complete strangers, based only on their outside appearances. The truth is, you have no idea, and all the weird fantasies/projections we have about others are all in YOU, not them. Never start a relationship “in your own head” by bringing preconceived notions into it before even talking to her.
    The second part of this is, if your last sentence is really correct, WHY would you still want a girl like that? She sounds like a real jerk. I’ll tell you why, because I have a hunch it’s the same reason I wanted hot, unattainable guys: a status symbol and a “fuck you!” to anyone who ever thought I was a loser. “Look what *I* can get! You can all suck it!” Then, all the fantasies I had about being the Best Girl Ever will be realized, because look who loves me! And I’ll find that special one, too, the one who has the complete package! Super hot, but also super smart. ALSO, a geek like me! ALSO, really sweet and loving! ALSO they haven’t had a lot of previous relationships, they are pure and waiting just for me, their one true love!
    The relationship is still in your head, though. You craft their personalities for them, even before speaking with them. You map out how it’s gonna go and how they are going to react. “She’ll be different, and she’ll love everything I love!”

    The bitterness comes when people buck the little play you have running in your head. That the hot girl (or guy) you so lovingly dreamed about could actually be *gasp* a JERK really hurts. You start to equate hot with JERK, but since you can’t let go of your fantasy of the Perfect Hot Girl(Boy)friend, you keep trying, getting shattered by realities that people aren’t perfect, and the resentment grows.

  • Pedro

    “I have a hunch it’s the same reason I wanted hot, unattainable guys: a status symbol and a “fuck you!” to anyone who ever thought I was a loser. “Look what *I* can get! You can all suck it!” ”

    THIS. oh my God EXACTLY this.

    i picture myself entering a high school reunion. one busty babe on each arm. everyone stares. i put on my best George Costanza voice and go “HA! Who’s the loser NOW!?!?!?”

    except i envision doing this in maybe my 40s or 50s. which is why i have a long-term plan to get rich.

    however, I DO realize it’s just a fantasy, and I probably WON’T get rich, and even if I do I’ll probably just have one busty bimbo at a time :)

    or maybe I’ll just get a regular-looking girlfriend.

    I’ll admit, the problem is: some days, I feel like I want a relationship – something steady, serious, yet fun, like some of my friends have – and others I feel like relationships are nothing but a hassle. I’ve established pretty firmly that I WON’T get married – my parents’ divorce and the fact that no-one is married for more than about six months now have made up my mind.

    however, it’s a bit trickier when it comes to dating and girlfriends. while I know that I will NEVER be stuck being someone’s “boyfriend” for twelve years like some people I know – hell, if someone puts up with me for twelve years, or vice-versa, I’ll break my vow and get married – I maybe would like to have a sort of longer-lasting bond with someone.

    or maybe I’ll just settle for one-night-stands with skanks. i can’t seem to make up my mind.

    (NOTE: I wasn’t being literal about the six months of marriage up there, but I WAS being literal about the twelve years of dating. Holy patience, Batman!)

  • Pedro

    true story:

    so I’m 17 and awkward. I have this couple of girl friends I hang with. they are – to me – unattractive, although they are really cool – “guy cool”, if you get my meaning.

    so one day I’m at the copy shop at school with these girls, and I’m in my environment, so I’m going a mile a minute – joking, making snarky sarcastic comments, and generally being loud. my friends are laughing at my antics, and I notice these three girls who were there with us turning their heads with this sort of half-smile on their face. one of them is a girl I had seen around the school and was sort of attracted to.

    so we leave, and the girls stay behind. the next day, i run into the cute blondie I mentioned above. I talk to her, just like that – NOT something I usually do – asking her about the copy shop, and how long they had taken to leave, because for us it had taken around a half-hour. we still talk to this day. of course my friends tried to dismiss it – “hey, so you talking to that tween out there” (she was two years younger than me) – but I felt so proud!

    this only happened thrice more. once I blew it because I was drunk (my first, incidentally) and asked the two girls to kiss, although they DID encourage me; once I got away because – as she told me years later – the girl thought I was drunk and decided to take my witty remark in stride; the third time, I was friends with the girl for a while, but she forgot about me.

    most other times, though, I’m almost pathologically shy. I don’t dance at clubs, and I don’t approach attractive women, because they intimidate me, to be honest. Especially 30somethings. They’re so…poised…you know? Ice Queens. but yeah, those three times, it kinda-sorta worked. I have no idea how, but it did.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Attractive women can be “Ice Queens” because they get hit on all. The. Time. It’s not cool to be constantly harrassed by guys and never seen as a human being, only a “hot conquest”. As one of the former “unhotties”, I used to regard the hotties with scorn. But now, some of my friends are typical “hot” girls, and I’ve really heard their frustrations. In some ways, I am luckier than they, because they have SO much more trouble separating the “wheat from the chaff” because of the bombardment of advances they receive. They are more objectified, even on the job. It takes longer for them to convince others that they have depth as a person; that they are NOT just a hot body.

    You momentarily treated the “cute blondie tween” as just another person. You stepped outside yourself and you own insecurities and just engaged her as a person, using common ground to break the ice (the copy shop). You didn’t come off as desperate, creepy or clingy. Learn from this! This is the kind of interpersonal stuff that will help you. Get to know real women without an agenda. Cultivate women friends, but try not to “categorize” them as “friend OR fuckable”. Just think of them as “friends”, who happen to be female.

    Women are just people. Men are just people.

    I really believe that shyness is half narcissism*. Because when I was most painfully shy, I was convinced everyone was ALWAYS staring at ME, judging ME, wrapped up in ME. Shyness started diminishing when I realized people probably aren’t as obsessed with ME as I am. :)

    *the other half is lack of social skills. Because of the narcissism, you fail to really connect, as a youth, with others. You fail to get the much needed practice in social skills. They feed each other.

  • LaSargenta

    Pedro, I can see that you are in pain and really frustrated with the world you’re in. Know that I acknowledge that and please understand that the whipping I’m about to give you is a gift. Seriously.

    or maybe I’ll just settle for one-night-stands with skanks.

    This statement is so laden with hatred of women, hatred of yourself and hatred of sexual relations that I’m wondering why it doesn’t start warping the fabric of reality.

    Several posts above, you wrote the following:

    To whoever suggested the two possible solutions: … (2) I refuse to do, because for me, validation is part of the process. As in “I hooked this girl up, using MY arguments and MY personality and MY points in favour”. Besides, I wouldn’t be able to look my mum or little sister in the eye again.

    I was the person who suggested that. The “validation” you are asking for is a separate thing from sex. Really. Sex is an expression of affection and a cooperative athletic endeavour. It is also a holy thing, but, I’m not going to get into that part here as I don’t get the feeling that you look at the world that way.

    Now, you are capitalizing the first person possessive and you are calling your target (and I am using that word for a reason…you are treating her like a target, something to get bombed and flattened!) a girl. Asserting much privilege, are we?

    And the word “arguments” … what exactly are you meaning? That you have to argue with someone to “hook up”? Or do you mean that you want them to be so blown away by your fabulous ability at debate that they haul you into a stall in the women’s room and fuck your brains out? What ever just happened to charm? Conversation?

    Then there is the “MY points in favor”. Well, let me tell you, right now on this thread, I’m not seeing a lot of points in your favor and need I remind you that I cannot see you and have no idea what you look like, smell like or dress like?

    You still don’t get it that the other person in this scenario might have some ideas of her own.

    NOW, getting back to the “skank” comment. First off, if you are engaging in one-night-stands and you think people who engage in them are skanks, then YOU are a skank. … OR, omg! It JUST hit me….you only think WOMEN who engage in one-night stands are skanks!

    Bwahahahahahahahahaa!

    lol…rotflmao….

    *snort*

    Sorry, back to being composed now.

    Well, bud, there’s Yer. Male. Privilege. Right. There.

    SooooOOOOOOOoooo, you’d have a one night stand with a *cough* skank ’cause then you’d be a dude; but, you won’t have an honest and above-board encounter with a sex worker because

    wouldn’t be able to look my mum or little sister in the eye again.

    This is idiotic.

    I’d like to tell you, too, that sex workers are not all desperate people on street corners who give anyone with $100 a blow job. They all make decisions, too, about who to take on as a client, even the desperate ones.

    If you are interested in getting a bit of an education about seeing things from other people’s positions, on this particular issue I’d like to recommend a book called Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write about their Clients, edited by Matt Bernstein Sycamore.

    **************************************************
    And, in closing, I’d like to direct you to another thread here which had a conversation that I really thing you need to read. Or, rather, lots of people on THIS thread need you to read it even if they don’t know it. Especially me.

  • LaSargenta

    I just peeked back here and realized that for some reason, the link I wanted to put in didn’t make it. Pedro, check out this thread. http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2009/08/081809the_oh-no_dvd_of_the_week_girl.html

  • Accounting Ninja

    LaSargenta has promised links of interest! *looks around*

    Where are they?? *cries*

    Seriously, spot on. Pedro, I also agree with everything she’s said. There is ONE difference between Nice Guys and Nice Girls, but it’s big: male privelege. Nice Guys cling to their male privelege which is reinforced by culture. Nice Girls are never told they are “owed” any guy, but Nice Guys, through media/internet, are told they ARE owed the hot girl. Stories of the Nice Guy winning the girl abound, while Nice Girls (for example, Meg Griffin) are treated with disgust and hatred. They almost always need some sort of “makeover” before they become acceptable, but the Guys rarely have to to win their prize.

    The only reason I’m not also tearing you a new one like LaSargenta is because you don’t strike me as too far gone in resentment. The truth is there, if you let yourself see it. Everytime you get the urge to counter our points with a “yeahbut!!!” really think about what you’re about to think or say.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Damn. Ninja was ninja’d!

  • Pedro

    1. arguments = good things about me. E.g. I can be funny and engaging, i can be sweet, i’m kinda nice, i make good conversation as long as there is common ground, i’m goofy in a teddy-bearish way, and so on. it has nothing to do with debate.

    2. skanks. never said I wouldn’t be one if I did that. but, again, it was sort of the person talking, or the looks, or whatever, not the money.

    I’ve been to amsterdam last month, and I maybe would do it with THOSE hookers (the ones in the windows). but their cliental was mostly shady hood-wearing types who were in and out in five minutes. Oh, and surely, SURELY bigger than me (let’s not even get into sizes…)

    As for the Holy portion, you’re right, I’m not a Catholic, I’m agnostic, and I think people who are virgins by choice are CRAZY. If they get as much flak about it as I’m getting, then GEEZ. Besides, as I gather, they’re missing out on a GREAT thing (that being the sex).

    So far I’m tending to agree with Accounting Ninja. I also get that feeling that everyone is looking at ME, but not always, just when I stand out. E.g. I’m at the club. I absolutely CAN’T dance. I wouldn’t follow a techno beat properly to save my life, and even with pop and rock tunes, the most I do is shuffle my feet about while wearing a self-derogatory “i’m just goofing” expression.

    now, imagine I’m at the club, surrounded by people who CAN dance, and I start dancing. of course I’m going to stand out because I’m atrociously AWFUL. That3s why I keep quiet in my corner with my drink. that way I won’t have the whole place looking at me.

    This is a sort of pathology I have. The same reason why I HATE oral presentations, and even speaking to a camera with no-one watching makes me fidgety.

    Also, during my teen years, the whole school seemed to be focused on mocking me. This is NOT narcissism: even the seventh graders knew who I was, and I had to whack one of them over the head to make them stop abusing me. Literally. AND THEY WERE TWELVE. I mean, back in the day, I was like Harry Potter or something…EVERYONE knew me.

    So yeah Accounting, I think you must have been a “girl me”. i hope I grow up to be a “guy you”.

    now LaSargenta, I don’t hate women. I love the women in my family, and I’ve had a couple of female friends. As for hating myself, well, a little (used to be a LOT). Hatred of sexual relations? Why would I hate those? Porn, womanizing chick-magnet guys I know and friggin’ SOCIETY all tell me how great they are.

    In fact, you know what?! I’d be happy just trying it ONCE. Then I’d shut up about it. I would have achieved my goals: to find out what it *feels* like and to cease being a virgin. The other objective – snagging a girl through my own good work – is why I won’t pay for it. One of my biggest questions is “how come picking up women is so easy to everyone but me”? Because it sure seems like that sometimes…

  • Pedro

    oh, and please disregard my rants, because I myself am seeing the problem with me getting a hot blonde.

    in fact, if I got a hot blonde for anything more than a one-night-stand, there would be a problem. on the rare occasion when i get to meet one, and she deigns to even acknowledge me as more than an unpleasant “something” in the room (not hyperbolating here, that3s how they treat me sometimes), even then, i run out of conversation within 10 minutes.

    Why? well, can’t very well be extrapolating about why Scrubs is my favorite TV show with someone whose life revolves around The Hills and Gossip Girl, now can I?

    (Again – not streotyping. Most of my vapid blonde friends – all two of them – love such shows, as well as Meg Ryan/Hugh Grant/Twilight/American Pie/Confessions of a Shopaholic type movies. So how can I discuss the symbolism behind City of God or analysing the Tim Burton filmography with them, right?

  • LaSargenta

    LaSargenta has promised links of interest! *looks around*

    Where are they?? *cries*

    Madam, I failed. However, I did attempt to make up for it by returning and correcting the omission. May I beg your pardon?

    [In fact, finding that thread made me think how nice it will be when MaryAnn adds a forum because then we can send various people messages to look at a specific thread. I just realized that Grinebiter hasn’t been around for a while!]

    And, AN, you are being a good deal nicer to him that I am. You might think it is because of our intrinsic characters; but, in Real Life, we are an instinctual good cop/bad cop tag team!

    One way or another, he’ll get the message.

    ;-)

  • Pedro

    To LaSargenta:

    WHAT I LOOK LIKE: Completely average. 5’7”, slim and skinny, brown hair, brown expressive eyes, glasses, a few pimples, no chest hair, lots of pubes, a beard that never quite became full-fledged, and hairy legs. I would compare myself to: a nerdier, shorter, smarter-looking Ben Affleck with glasses; Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, only with brown eyes; Elijah Wood, minus the great hair and baby-blue eyes; Peter Parker (the drawn version) in his early days, back when he wore glasses.

    WHAT I SMELL LIKE: Deodorant, after-shave and parfum. Even after exercising, you’ll rarely catch me smelling of B.O. : a bath is top in my list of priorities whenever I wake up or finish exercising.

    WHAT I DRESS LIKE: suit and tie now, but usually a t-shirt, shorts and sandals in the summer, a pullover, shirt, jeans and a jacket in winter, with casual shoes. Sneaker usage has decreased in recent times. Overall, the impression is that of a slightly nerdish fellow, and my clothes are appropriate for my current age (24); the problem is, I dressed like this six years ago, too. When everybody was wearing baggy pants, backwards caps and chains, I was dressing like someone out of “Happy Days”.

    @Ninja, concerning popular girl’s insecurities: the only girl I ever really loved was insanely hot, funny, nice, etc. Yet, unlike most hot girls, she seldom surrounded herself with gaggles of giggling friends and/or fuglies. She usually hung around with one friend and a lot of guys, and i often caught her by herself. Was she…*gasp*…insecure and a loner!?

    Also, is there a rule stating that every moderately good-looking girl must have a fugly fat BFF?

  • LaSargenta

    Pedro, have you ever asked your parents why they didn’t speak up for you? Or, did you ever tell them what was going on? Bullying is a horrible thing. There are lots of possible responses. I know of one family that moved rather than continue to let their child get horrifically bullied. Not everyone has that choice, but there are options. Cassius Clay learned how to box and he didn’t seem to be a vengeful person, just willing to stand up for himself.

  • LaSargenta

    Pedro, your latest (at http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2010/01/010810youth_in_revolt_review.html#comment-53473 ) I can’t even read most of. My point wasn’t to elicit a description of yourself. My point was that I didn’t feel your “MY points in favor” from this thread and that I wasn’t operating on superficialities.

    The bit at the end is nasty, too. Just. Stop. It.

    I’m not taking this personally because I’m one of the “fugly girls”, but because I’m a woman who despises this fixation in our society on body types as status symbols. And, Big Women are HAWT! Just ask my friend H.

    Please just go away and listen to http://beemp3.com/download.php?file=821592&song=Fat+Bottomed+Girls and http://new.music.yahoo.com/compulsions/tracks/big-fat-sexy-mama–58647985

  • JoshB

    You’re just loving the attention here, aren’cha Pedro? I hope you’re really taking notes from Ninja and LaSargenta, they’re kind of awesome.

    the problem with “most” attractive women is that the “intellectually” portion usually doesn’t come into play.

    Fun science fact: genetically speaking physical attractiveness and intelligence are independent of each other. Pretty people are exactly as smart as ugly people.

    File under “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.”

    well, can’t very well be extrapolating about why Scrubs is my favorite TV show with someone whose life revolves around…Gossip Girl, now can I?

    Gossip Girl is a better show than people give it credit for. Plus it allows you to read Jacob Clifton’s reviews over on TWoP, which is a special treat.

  • MaryAnn

    [In fact, finding that thread made me think how nice it will be when MaryAnn adds a forum because then we can send various people messages to look at a specific thread. I just realized that Grinebiter hasn’t been around for a while!]

    Adding a forum is definitely on the agenda for the Movable Type upgrade that I’m still working on. Mostly because I don’t really want to stop these kinds of conversations even though this one is getting pretty far afield from the movie, but I would like it if it could happening off to one side, so that other conversations more closely connected to the film in question could continue.

  • MaryAnn

    My point wasn’t to elicit a description of yourself…. The bit at the end is nasty, too. Just. Stop. It.

    Yeah, seriously, Pedro. If you’re trying to disengage any sympathy we might be feeling for you, you’re doing an *excellent* job of it.

    Also, is there a rule stating that every moderately good-looking girl must have a fugly fat BFF?

    At the risk of this developing even further into Pedro’s Therapy Session: Dude, you really need to learn that women are people. You know, with feelings and stuff. And here’s a tip: If you want to get anywhere at all with that “moderately good-looking girl,” you sure as hell better know how to deal with her closest friend without holding your nose.

  • Accounting Ninja

    @LaSargenta re: Grinebiter. I noticed too! That was an interesting thread. Actually, I’m usually not “nice” at all to Nice Guys. But Pedro is like a young padawan. Much he can learn, if stays open his mind. ;)

    @JoshB: Right back atcha. :)

    @Pedro, why is it that women’s frivolous pursuits are seen as way more inferior than men’s frivolous pursuits? No man gets assumed “vapid” because he loves sitcoms or sports. So what if she watches Gossip Girl? I used to look down on women like that too, until I realized it’s a form of misogyny. Not only that, but people can sense a judgemental attitude like that.

    Because you described yourself here, I also spot another problem: TMI. TMI makes people want to cringe. It’s not that they don’t want to learn about you, it’s that the timing/situation is wrong. Believe me, I can relate, but just…resist.

  • LaSargenta

    @ MaryAnn, Pedro’s Therapy Session, eh? Maybe you should charge!

    @ Accounting Ninja: Yeah, yeah, everyone can learn. But, it isn’t only an open mind but also a lack of defensiveness and a desire to change.

    How many Freudians does it take to change a lightbulb? None, because the bulb must change itself.

    @ JoshB: You’re too kind! Thanks for noticing. ;-D And I nearly spit my tea out onto my keyboard at your Fun Science Fact.

  • MaryAnn

    From a wonderful piece at Jezebel today about “Five Sexist Assholes”:

    anyone who says “I’m so nice that I can’t even get laid,” is not, in fact, nice.

    No man gets assumed “vapid” because he loves sitcoms or sports.

    Speak for yourself, Ninja. :->

  • Seconded. Make it so.

    Thirded. For what that’s worth.

    I hope you’re really taking notes from Ninja and LaSargenta, they’re kind of awesome.

    Yes, they are awesome. It’s a shame they can’t guest-blog the next time MaryAnn goes on vacation.

    And I must confess that conversations like this are part of the reason I come back here so frequently. Okay, it goes without saying that MaryAnn’s writing is the main reason I come back so often but cyber-conversations like this add additional incentive.

  • Paul

    Well, it does depend on the sitcom with me.

  • Pedro

    Me no likey sitcoms. Me likey sports, though.

    the problem with gossip girl, etc, is that the women then try to be like whatsername and her bitch friend. you don’t see many men acting like Ray Romano or Kevin Ja….oh, wait, yes you do. but at least they were like that BEFORE watching the shows.

    and fat girls are people, too. i don’t “hold my nose” around them. i just don’t feel attracted to them. other than that, they’re often much nicer and more interesting people than “hot” women.

    please do teach me, o Jedi Masters! and yes, i’m taking notes, although Ninja’s story seems kind of like a female parallel of my story. she’s just at a more advanced stage because she’s older.

    and I don’t think I’m a Nice Guy(tm). yes, i’m nice, but i will openly admit my mind is FILTHY sometimes.

    as for why I didn’t tell my mum about the “bullying”: I DID. she said it was all my own making, and she was kinda right. at first she did everything she could, but after a while she saw that i was hopeless, helpless and kept reincurring in the same mistakes, so she justifiedly gave up.

    another trait I have is that I’m naive and I will ALWAYS say what I feel, without thinking of the consequences. needless to say, this often lands me in irredeemably hot water.

  • Well, I’ve caved in to peer pressure. You may now follow my name-link and be taken to my baby blog. There’s only one brief introductory-type post, though. Stay tuned!

    @Pedro, you know I used the word “fugly” to be ironic, right? I never intended it to actually be used to describe anyone honestly. :/

    Let’s clear something up:

    she’s just at a more advanced stage because she’s older.

    No no no. Emphatically no. It’s not only age. There was a lot of painful truths I had to face. A lot of reassessing my firmly-held beliefs. If I hadn’t been brave enough to do that, I’d still be stuck as the miserable girl I used to be, blaming everyone but me for my unhappiness. If you think things are going to get magically better with age without doing any work on yourself, you’re wrong.

    re Gossip Girl paragraph: *pinches bridge of nose* Pedro Pedro Pedro. You almost had it! You almost saw how unfair you’d been to your girl friends, then BAM! out comes the qualifying excuse.

    re fat girls being people too: This sentence didn’t exactly drip with the milk of human kindness: “Also, is there a rule stating that every moderately good-looking girl must have a fugly fat BFF?”
    Then you backpedal, saying well I just don’t find her attractive, etc. Okay, so what?? No one expects you to. Why make a case out of the fact that she’s “fugly”, as if her mere existence offends you? Are you afraid she’ll come on to you? Infect you with fugly cooties?

    Re Nice Guy qualifications: a clean, pure mind is not the chief characteristic of a Nice Guy. Quite the opposite.

    @LaSargenta: sadly, there’s not much parents/schools can really do about bullying. Sure they can stop physical fighting and egregious harrassment, but you can’t really control the subtler kind: social shunning, sly verbal attacks, spreading rumors, etc.

  • LaSargenta

    @ Accounting Ninja — I checked out your first entry and I’m looking forward to more.

    On the topic of bullying, I need more time to write a decent post than I’ve got available right now. I’m plowing through lots of drawings and organizing data to get out in an overnight package by the end of the day. There is actually a lot to say.

    Until I return with a properly thought-out post, let me just say this…

    Pedro, this breaks my heart:

    she said it was all my own making, and she was kinda right. at first she did everything she could, but after a while she saw that i was hopeless, helpless and kept reincurring in the same mistakes, so she justifiedly gave up.

    I’m sure that there was a lot going on in her life and she probably had had the same said to her when she was young and being bullied (because it really does happen to almost everyone at some point). But, NO ONE, absolutely NO ONE is “responsible” for being victimized! We are responsible for our own actions and we are responsible for our own reactions; but, we are not responsible for the actions of others. YOU did NOT make the bullies do that. In addition, I’m a mother with a small boy. I see my job as a mother to nurture and protect my child and to give him the tools to grow up into a decent, loyal, kind, and mentally and ethically strong person. Bullying is a major problem while people are growing up and there are things one can do about it.

  • LaSargenta

    Call me Thread Killer.

    So, yes, I do think that people can do something about bullying. And I think that if we don’t, we get another generation of bullies. (Some of them might hide behind Nice Guy ™ facades; or be passive-aggressive bullies thinking that they are not bullies if they don’t actually yell or hit.) The alternative is, what? Throw up our hands and assume that The Lord Of The Flies is the natural way?

    I’ve been thinking about how to write about this and decided to just give a personal story about when my son went to school. This isn’t really about my pixie, it is about adults and two schools.

    School One:
    He went to a rather desirable dual language/dual culture school for pre-K. Less than a month into the school year, I realized this was a mistake. It was a place of orders, do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do by the teachers and admin, and drill without thinking AS WELL a place that tacitly encouraged bullying between the students as some kind of a method of social control. There was a lot of verbal bullying and I only saw more as the school year went on. I let myself get talked into not pulling him out immediately…I kept lying to myself that maybe it would get better…maybe it would be a good learning experience…that an immersion language program (which he enjoyed a LOT) was great…

    Well. By January I had witnessed kids bullying and keeping on with the words, with the teasing, with the nastiness until, of course, the victim cracked and hauled off and slugged someone. Who do you think got in trouble? You guessed it, the one who threw a punch. I had a couple of really interesting conversations with the School Safety Officer. Now, here in NYC, in the public schools, there’s a cop at every entrance. I know this isn’t the case in every public school around the country, but I gather it is pretty common. Personally, I don’t really like the idea, but the Safety Officers I’ve met are mostly pretty decent people and they all really care about the kids at their schools so I’m not bothered by the practice as I’ve seen it so far. It is almost always the same one at the same entrance every day and they see a lot. So, that school’s S.O. turned to me one day and said, “That’s what happens, every time. A kid takes as much as he can, but no matter what I tell them about the bullying, it is only the one who finally struck out who gets sent to the Principal.”

    Fortunately, he got a place in the Lottery at

    School Two:
    This is another public school, in the same District, and actually a lot closer to our apartment. It is also a school that many at School One and its ilk (those uber-fixated on testing and pushing out any of the students who need extra tutoring or who have a learning disability ’cause it changes their averages) mock for its hippie-dippy, progressive, Bank-Streety pedagogical philosophies.

    Well! Let. Me. Tell. You. These hippie-dippy people who supposedly aren’t teaching children to read not only have great test scores, manage to keep those who might need a tutor or other help main-streamed, but they also are ALL over it if bullying and friction develop between the kids.

    Not that they are perfect. Not that problems never happen. Not that it is one big love-in. But, things are noticed and NOT because there’s a bunch of snitches.

    Right off, the thing that impressed me the most in this area was that the PE teachers were also conflict resolution specialists AND they incorporated this into the Phys. Ed. program as well as just having it in all other areas. Now, I was and am a bit of a jock in the sense that I loved sports and still do. But, I almost always (except for two who will always have a special place in my heart!) had evil, evil people as PE teachers and coaches. The fact that I still loved playing despite these fuckers is a small miracle.

    So, here was a school where the jocks’ role models were also well-versed in Alfie Kohn, Martin Seligman (psychologist from Penn), and the Quaker Alternatives to Violence Project not to mention knowledgeable about South Africa’s Peace and Reconciliation Committees.

    You could have pushed me over with a feather.

    When there is a problem between students, ALL involved are taken aside and a discussion ensues facilitated by the school Counsellor, the Principal or one of the other incredibly capable people in the office. They also actively encourage and engender cooperation across ages and interests and learning styles. This isn’t just lip-service there and getting people to open up to different ways of thinking from a young, young age is really useful for empathy which tends to reduce bullying as well.

    It doesn’t have to be a journey up a river in a Joseph Conrad novel.

    As far as the lasting effect of bullying, it is pervasive and durable; but, we can change our outlook in the present. We can learn new responses, even if it appears that the world around us doesn’t immediately support it. Several years ago, I randomly picked up a fascinating book: The Optimistic Child: Proven Program to Safeguard Children from Depression & Build Lifelong Resilience by Martin E.P. Seligman. You know what? Despite that name, this is not your typical self-help book based on half a good idea. It really is proven. There have been clinical trials. Here is a link to Seligman given a TED talk: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/martin_seligman_on_the_state_of_psychology.html

    …And so to bed.

  • Don’t worry, I’ve been Thread Killer myself! lol

    I didn’t mean to sound like I just threw my hands up like, “nothing I can do! Oh well!!” Especially because I was bullied, relentlessly. There was not ONE DAY that went by when someone didn’t pick on me. Not exaggerating; I used to keep track. Most of the time it wasn’t physical, but sometimes I did get tripped, shoved, kicked or threatened a beating.

    Now looking back, I find it hard to believe my teachers were unaware. My parents were definitely aware. I used to confide in a few teachers over the years about how miserable my life was. But they didn’t do anything other than listen with sympathy and insist that I was a great kid. My parents divorced when I was a preteen and after that I was pretty much on my own. As a teen I used to cry to my mom a lot of nights, but she was so tired from working 2 jobs and being newly divorced that she was more annoyed with me than anything else.

    Not making excuses; I think their inaction and apathy was deplorable. I would never do that to my son. (Hey, we both have sons. Mine’s 5. :))

    BUT, there were a couple of rare times when the bullies did get in trouble. The teachers attempted to make the kids stop picking on me (a couple of the more “hippy-dippy” types. lol), and it worked for a little bit. But then the dust would settle and the bullying got even worse, because now they were mad at me for getting them in trouble. They got more sly about it, too, never getting caught.

    I would’ve liked to go to your gym class, because my gym teachers, when they weren’t treating me like I didn’t exist and looking the other way when the athletes knocked me to the ground, would actively encourage nasty pissing contests and the dreaded “team captains choose their teams” which ended up with the two captains fighting over who was stuck with me. I can’t remember a single gym teacher that didn’t favor the “jocks” and treat the nerdier kids like crap.

    I guess my view is, you can’t control whether the kids hate you. The social isolation remains, and the bullying goes underground. They may play nice when teachers are looking, but they’ll get you when they can, like after school, in the bathrooms or on the bus. They’ll spread rumors about you that you can’t fight.

    Maybe it’s just better nowadays, I don’t know. I was in school in the 80s and 90s, and the attitudes were definitely different. I’d like to talk to current bullied kids and see if the zero-tolerance against bullying does anything to alleviate their misery.

    I’m on the lookout for it with my son, though. So far, so good.

  • The above should say “I would’ve liked to go to your SON’S gym class”. Oops.
    What was it with evil fuckers and gym class??? It’s like, “Hey, wanna be a teacher? Afraid you are too evil? WELL WE HAVE JUST THE JOB FOR YOU.”

  • JennMT

    Excellent story, LaSargenta. It’s good to hear that some schools are taking progressive measures and treating bullying as more than just a ‘kids will be kids’ rite of passage.

    Lots of good advice for young Mr. Pedro in these threads, ladies. Poor guy probably never dreamed of so much info/attention from a bunch of “poised” older women when he started posting. ;)

    It sounds like the common theme to take with you, Pedro, is to stop looking at women as a sort of totem or prize. (You wouldn’t appreciate being viewed like a side of beef at a butcher shop either, and would not be inclined to further a relationship with someone who did it.) Also, try directing some of your focus and attention OFF of yourself for a change. I stand by that as being a person’s biggest weakness to overcoming insecurities. (People are attracted to confidence, which does not stem from people with a Woody Allen-type inner monologue of issues.)

    Every post you have made, Pedro, is only about yourself and your opinions and views. If you try to have a ‘real world’ conversation w/ a young women and that is your blueprint, I can see how they may not be swept off their feet. It’s not always about what YOU like, or what you are like, try to be intersted in learning about someone else and not how much they fit YOUR mold. You may be surprised.

  • JennMT

    Ninja, you and LaSarg both have my admiration for being so proactive in your son’s lives as far as their school-life. I don’t have any children, but that would be one of the harder aspects to deal with after seeing how harsh kids could be as I grew up.

  • Mr. Sparkle

    I’m disrespectful to dirt! Can you see I am serious!

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