A moratorium on villainous eating
There are three things in this world I love perfectly: three-dimensional movies, preferably set in the mythical past; extremely popular music; the "me, an intellectual" joke construction from last year.
Earlier this month Nicole texted me a link to Harry Style's new song "Sign of the Times" while I was terrified on a plane and in need of distraction. I thought to myself, "Ah, he's been incandescently famous for a good eight or nine years now. Time to get on board," then proceeded to listen to it 496 times. It's a pretty good song, and combines some of my favorite things, like "churlish-sounding pianos" and "incredibly vague yelling." (He keeps singing about bullets? I do not believe that anyone has ever tried to shoot Harry Styles, but then again, I am politically opposed to the maxim "Write what you know," so I do not seek to censure, merely to learn.) Anyhow, this entire buildup is a flimsy excuse to contextualize the following text message I sent to my friend Brook yesterday:
you, a plebian: popular musician harry styles
me, an intellectual: my wholesome and successful son harold fashion
My other love, three-dimensional movies set in the mythical past, arrived to me this week in the form of Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 3D. Not very many people went to see it, but one of those not-very-many people was me. It was the greatest movie I have ever seen; every movie I see is the greatest movie I have ever seen. I am politically and spiritually committed to this practice.
Guy Ritchie is, of course, a very silly person. At one point there is a growing-up montage featuring li'l King Arthur learning about life on the rough-and-tumble streets of Londinium, and people just start...handing him coins? But at no point does the movie explain what they are giving him money for. Like, he's not suddenly helping people with their chores, or working for a crime syndicate, or keeping their secrets and accepting bribes or anything – strangers just, apropos of entirely nothing, just hand him a bunch of cash, and he starts hoarding it? Which I think is meant to demonstrate his work ethic but we...don't see him do any work or selling any goods in exchange for the money? He just starts getting a bunch of walking-around money for no reason. The whole movie was sort of like that.
Mostly I just love that when it came time to retell the King Arthur legend, someone was like, Guys: you know who we have to get right? Vortigern, that minor warlord that a child-Merlin explains dragons to. And watching Jude Law Young Pope it up all over the screen helped me realize something, and I just might understand him for the first time – I think Jude Law thinks he is Charlize Theron? I think – I merely speculate, I do not know – that he believes himself to alternate between high-prestige projects and campy, fun, fantasy-nonsense movies, à la the Theron. "People loved her in Snow White and the Huntsman," I'll bet Jude Law has at some point said to someone. "The box office was almost triple the budget. Charlize and I are absolutely in the same league." I'll bet Jude Law watched and rewatched her Dior commercial and took notes during the whole thing.
It's not Jude Law's fault that he isn't Charlize Theron, obviously – I myself lack the necessary qualities – but it did remind me of the vast gulf that lies between real, earned, good old-fashioned scenery-chewing and just, I guess, sustained pouting. The latter just doesn't work like the former! King Arthur reminded us of the difference between A Really Great Villain who's going to be the most popular costume at the next gay Halloween party and someone who's just frequently engaged in Villainous Eating.
You know what I mean when I say Villainous Eating, right? It's not quite the same as the way Brad Pitt's character was always eating in Ocean's Eleven, but it's close. Nor is it like, Disgusting Eating; Villainous Eating is sometimes borderline rude but never gluttonous. Like, he'll maybe talk with his mouth a little bit full to remind you that he doesn't care about the comfort of people around him, but he's not, like, smearing an entire turkey leg into his gullet. It's daintier than that, and it's meant to suggest a highly dangerous attention to detail. It's always fruit and fancy little desserts and maybe a hunk of bread you have to use your personal life to jab butter on. And it's great. Look, it's great. When I see a bad dude slam a whole glass of milk or pick apart a medieval beignet while casually discussing how much he's going to murder you, something in my animal hindbrain is activated and I immediately have a good time. "He's eating delicious food and enjoying himself just like I do," my animal hindbrain said, "but he's evil." And my animal hindbrain chortles merrily at the resultant cognitive dissonance.
But we've got to take a break from it, you guys. I'm as sorry to say it as anyone, but we need at least a ten-year break from Villainous Eating in order to reset our systems. There's too much of it out there! We need some new methods of telegraphing Danger, like Villainous Flossing or Villainous Tea-Steeping. We're barely ready to revisit Villainous Nail-Filing as it is. So starting from now (movies that are currently in post-production get a pass, but nobody else) villains are no longer allowed to eat onscreen. Or, if they do eat, it has to be NORMAL. Like just a half a sandwich and they're not using the sandwich to telegraph any sinister intentions, they're just eating like a person and they'll be villainous again in a minute. Okay? Okay.
N.B. We have, my cherished ones, already reached TinyLetter's limit of 5000 subscribers. It is not my wish that the Shatner Chatner should be in any way exclusive – I am a woman of the people, like Tiberius Gracchus before me – so I'm trying to find out what my other options are for mass-emailing strangers the contents of my gently shaking heart. Is there a BantamLetter I can upgrade to? If you have any recommendations, please let me know!