Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I Hate Zach Braff Too

And that he is supposedly the voice of my generation.

Example of fluffy, trite, useless thought from Garden State::

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.

Sam: I still feel at home in my house.

Andrew Largeman: You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

Whatever. I'm flying home to see my parents and celebrate the birthdays of two nephews and a niece. I no longer call it "going home," but it did take a little taking used to, and it was weird the first time when I couldn't remember where the salt was. But it will be a homecoming of sorts, and it's not so much imaginary as it is slightly detached from present reality, and "home" is a shifting target. After a couple of weeks, it will feel routine to be back at my parents--not that I don't feel relief when I finally come back to Liberal College City.

Unfortunately, I am stuck at the airport. Paying for wireless is worth the amusement, but it does bring out the hater in me.

So I am going to hate on Zach Braff, and his treacly, obvious statements of Gen X/Y angst and emo woe.

Why do I hate Zach Braff? For all the reasons Josh Levin hates on him:

If Zach Braff is the voice of my generation, can't someone please crush his larynx?

If Garden State is to be believed, they spend their days squinting and staring wistfully while slowly learning that it's OK to feel and, like, live. When they do speak, yearbook quotes come out. For example: "Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place." In The Last Kiss, Braff furrows his brow solemnly and ponders a question that's paralyzed millions: Should I replace my incredibly hot girlfriend with an incredibly hot college student? This time, OC starlet Rachel Bilson gets the Ferris Bueller-esque pearl of wisdom: "The world is moving so fast now that we start freaking out way before our parents did because we don't ever stop to breathe anymore." Never has the voice of a generation had so little of substance to say.

Braff is tapped in to how young people consume, if not how they think. Sure, Garden State and The Last Kiss resemble overlong iPod ads with less adventuresome music choices. But the soundtracks that Braff compiled for both films have been remarkably successful—the Garden State CD sold more than a million copies, and The Last Kiss is currently No. 38 on Amazon. It makes sense that Braff is so popular on MySpace, a site that exists so people can list what they like—friends, celebrities, music, movies. Braff is, essentially, an aggregator. His soundtracks are lists of his favorite songs. Garden State was a list of funny anecdotes and off-kilter objects rather than a cohesive story. He might not have anything original to say, but Braff does offer this insight on our generation: We are inclined to mistake stuff for substance.

I'm not saying I was always immune to the fluffy fakeness. I used to like Scrubs. I actually liked Garden State when I first saw it, but became increasingly disenchanted with it upon repeated viewings (possible whenever I visit my parents and end up watching cable TV). But like any batch of whipped air, it just doesn't sustain me, and doesn't satisfy. Fluffines is for pancakes. And you still feel hungry after eating them (this is why I go for fresh corned beef hash at the local deli).

Some movies I watch and grow to love with each viewing in different ways. Closer originally disturbed me--but I kept thinking about it. I watched it a few times over (again, cable)--and each time, I liked it more, and it still stuck with me. Books that do that for me tend to also be disturbing and unsettling--like Ian McEwan's Atonement. This doesn't mean that I only respond to discomfiting, disquieting things--it's just that it's a strong reaction, and it persists. Films and books that engage my mind tend to provoke complex feelings, and while certain "happy" books and movies can do that (Austen books and movies come to mind; as does Cold Comfort Farm), I don't think Braff is necessarily going for "happy"---he's going for emotive, as if to replace thought and true feeling.

Anyway. I'm a hater.


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