Arts + Music » Arts + Culture

The Wackness

Uh, too much information, dude.


I recently received the humour book Stuff White People Like as a gift. The book is a numbered compendium of the cliched tropes of white, liberal folk, such as indie music, farmers' markets and Barack Obama, and can be pretty cutting when you reach an entry that personally applies to you. I laughed and cringed at the entries for kitchen gadgets, Oscar parties and The Wire.Stuff White People Likewas on my mind when I went to see Johnathan Levine's tedious, coming-of-age angst-fest The Wackness, starring Ben Kingsley, Famke Janssen, Josh Peck and Mary-Kate Olsen. The two really converge in their portrayal of the same race, class and social group but where Stuff White People Like found comedy gold, Levine saw an opportunity to reveal the supposed ennui behind the whitey cliches Stuff details, like hating your parents, bad memories of high school, difficult break-ups, self-aware hip-hop references and marijuana. Stuff's comedy feels more authentic because it takes such glee in calling out standard examples of uniqueness and rebellion amongst people who are neither, whereas it's infuriating that Levine thinks he is reinventing the stereotype of miserable teen.It damages the film's credibility that Levine physically resembles Peck, who plays Luke, Levine's dour protagonist. The Wackness is one of those embarrassingly personal films where, after the credits roll, you feel you know way too much about the auteur. Levine's film has an exaggerated, self-absorbed demeanor---as if no one has ever been alienated and lonely before, no one has ever listened to music their parents would have and no teen has ever had their heart broken before!Who buys the "my miserable upper-middle-class childhood" shtick anymore? Stuff White People Like calls this shit out more accurately than The Wackness dramatizes it. It's time to start looking elsewhere for inspiration.

Add a comment

Remember, it's entirely possible to disagree without spiralling into a thread of negativity and personal attacks. We have the right to remove (and you have the right to report) any comments that go against our policy.

xxx - Deprecated in favor of GTM, above.