For our March edition of Bitche$ we brought three lovely ladies to Fashion Outlet (yes again.)
Ok, so, we really fucking love Fashion Outlet. It’s full of crop tops, spandex, weaves, big church lady hats, and cheap nail polish. This place is great for strippers, hipsters, and drag queens alike. Plus, the older Chinese woman behind the counter will tell you how “kewwwt” she thinks your classy trashy picks are. What’s not to love? (Above: “Bitch” necklace - Fashion Outlet, $5; One Direction Press-ons - Walmart - $3)
Yes! (Whoever is leaving me these anonymous writing prompts, thank you! It is helpful to me. And maybe to you??!)
I feel most acutely jealous of people when they’re very similar to me. It really, really sucks to know someone who’s just like you except they’re doing it better. They’re just like you except they’re respected a little more, or confident a little more, and it drives you INSANE to think over and over that YOU could’ve been the one sitting at the popular table, or getting into Yale, or having your special cupcake recipe requested every day by everyone in AP bio even though it’s fucking Funfetti, or having that group of guys talk about how cute and cool and funny you are at a party you aren’t even AT, or getting booked on big-deal comedy shows, or not doing comedy but taking yourself seriously enough to do a real job, or wearing nicer clothes, or having good posture, or hugging everyone freely and impulsively whenever you feel a surge of love for them without worrying what they’ll think, or posting the same selfie to Instagram AND Facebook AND Twitter AND Tumblr and getting a crazy number of likes on it in each place (these are all 100% real things I have been jealous of other girls for. Everything is stupid).
It’s infuriating. That could have been you! If only your parents had brought you up to believe that you were unequivocally valuable and special like her parents clearly did. If only you were naturally thinner and less lumpy-looking. If only you had some cooler neurotransmitters that could just chill the fuck out and let serotonin and dopamine do their thing, instead of the panicky-ass, overactively-reuptaking ones you were born with. If only you were less weak and afraid. If only you could somehow trick yourself into being more confident, if only you could magically alchemize some kind of unwavering belief in yourself out of the thin low-pressure doubt that moves around you like a cloud.
Because yeah, jealousy is about the person you’re jealous of, with her dumb fucking smooth shiny hair and her cool short skirts (and superhuman bionically-insulated legs that apparently don’t ever get cold in the winter???), but you know that it’s really sort of about you. You’re only jealous of her glamorous life of unemotional one night stands because you’re frustrated that you keep picking a guy to fantasize about for months and never doing anything about it. You’re jealous that she seems to enjoy her life so much and be so emotionally grounded because YOU routinely fall apart every few weeks and are never totally sure if it’s actually because of PMS or because you’re just generally a sort of doomed-to-be-unhappy person. It’s not her that’s the problem. It’s you.
The nice thing about that, I’ve found, is that you control who you are. Sort of. Obviously there are going to be things you don’t like about yourself, and that you learn to accept more than control. But here’s the comforting thing: in the sentence “you control who you are,” the first “you” is every bit as authentic as the second. The meta-you, the one looking at the publicly misrepresented parts of you and thinking “that’s not really me,” the one that gets so jealous when you see someone else taking her art seriously or wearing a sexy outfit or crying in front of her friends, or whatever it is that you find difficult to do — that’s you. The one that values the things that you’re jealous of, that’s you. Those are YOUR values. So in a weird, tricky-but-not-entirely-bullshit kind of way, you already ARE everything you’re jealous of, just by virtue of your being jealous of it.
That sensitive person who notices little emotional nuances enough to be jealous about them and then tortured by that jealousy, that’s you. That flawed, growing person who knows she isn’t perfect and isn’t even as great as she wishes she were, isn’t a whiz-kid who’s setting the world on fire, isn’t a billionaire or senator or novelist like she thought she’d be by now, that’s you. The imaginary you that you’re creating when you think about how you COULD have had what the object of your jealousy has if only X had happened or you’d done Y better, that’s not you. Not at all. That’s not even another universe’s version of you. That’s just some freaky monster with perfect hair that you’re having a nightmare about.
And you’re not a monster, green-eyed or otherwise. You are jealous, but these are sturdy facts to lean on: You’re a human being. You’re not a flat copy-machine-smudged version of anyone else. You’re you, and you’re the only one who is.
When Steve Kloves (who wrote the majority of the Potter screenplays) met J.K. Rowling for the first time, he told her straight up that Hermione was his favorite character. Rowling admitted to being relieved, and who could blame her? It was more likely for Hermione to end up disrespected on screen—she wouldn’t be the first female hero to get butchered in the reels.
But this resulted in an undercutting of Ron’s entire character from the first movie. Don’t believe it? When the trio go after the Philosopher’s Stone, they face a series of tests that demand each of their skills in turn. Time likely demanded that this sequence be cut down, and so Hermione’s test—solving Professor Snape’s potion riddle—was removed entirely. To make up for this, she gets them out of the Devil’s Snare, Professor Sprout’s deadly plant. Hermione shouts to Harry and Ron to relax so the foliage will release them—but Ron continues to panic and moan (in campiest fashion possible because he’s played by a child actor and these things are always requested of them), requiring Hermione to blast the thing with a sunlight spell.
In the book, Hermione is the one who panics. She remembers what her lessons taught her—that the Devil’s Snare will recoil at fire—but balks at their lack of matches while they are being strangled to death. Ron immediately shrieks to the rescue YOU ARE A WITCH YOU HAVE A WAND YOU KNOW SPELLS WHAT ARE MATCHES.
It’s a simple change, but it makes such a marked difference in how both characters come off to an audience. Rather than a near-infant, incapable of following the clearest directions, Ron is the even-keeled nitty-gritty one. He’s a tactician, the one who will find the simplest answer to a problem provided that the situation is dire enough to ensure his clear head. Ron is good under pressure and brave to boot. He’s also hilarious.
It is easy to write this off as an actor problem; Emma Watson matured and improved much faster than her costars in terms of talent—and Steve Kloves liked her portrayal so much that he started giving her many of Ron’s important lines. During The Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black is trying to get to Peter Pettigrew (currently disguised as Scabbers the Rat), but Ron and Hermione are convinced he’s after Harry. In the book, Ron stares up defiantly from his mangled, broken leg and tells Sirius Black that if he wants Harry, he’ll have to get through his friends first.
Yeah, my leg hurts way too much, Hermione. You take this one. But say it’s from me. And in the film, it’s Hermione who boldly steps in the line of fire while Ron sobs in pain and babbles incoherently.
These rewrites not only depict Ron as an idiot coward—they also make him an outright jerk. When Professor Snape snaps at Hermione yet again for being an insufferable know-it-all, movie-Ron gives her a look and drawls, “He’s right, you know.” Wait, what?! Harry, why are you friends with this prick? Well, maybe because the Ron Weasley that J.K. Rowling put on paper was in that exact same situation, and immediately leapt to Hermione’s defense when she was being abused by a teacher—“You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’t want to be told?”
Phil Hoffman and I had two things in common. We were both fathers of young children, and we were both recovering drug addicts. Of course I’d known Phil’s work for a long time — since his remarkably perfect film debut as a privileged, cowardly prep-school kid in Scent of a Woman — but I’d never met him until the first table read for Charlie Wilson’s War, in which he’d been cast as Gust Avrakotos, a working-class CIA agent who’d fallen out of favor with his Ivy League colleagues. A 180-degree turn.
On breaks during rehearsals, we would sometimes slip outside our soundstage on the Paramount lot and get to swapping stories. It’s not unusual to have these mini-AA meetings — people like us are the only ones to whom tales of insanity don’t sound insane. “Yeah, I used to do that.” I told him I felt lucky because I’m squeamish and can’t handle needles. He told me to stay squeamish. And he said this: “If one of us dies of an overdose, probably 10 people who were about to won’t.” He meant that our deaths would make news and maybe scare someone clean.
So it’s in that spirit that I’d like to say this: Phil Hoffman, this kind, decent, magnificent, thunderous actor, who was never outwardly “right” for any role but who completely dominated the real estate upon which every one of his characters walked, did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.
He didn’t die because he was partying too hard or because he was depressed — he died because he was an addict on a day of the week with a y in it. He’ll have his well-earned legacy — his Willy Loman that belongs on the same shelf with Lee J. Cobb’s and Dustin Hoffman’s, his Jamie Tyrone, his Truman Capote and his Academy Award. Let’s add to that 10 people who were about to die who won’t now.