Slog

Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pay. Sit. Barf.

Posted by on Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 12:22 PM

eatpraylove.jpg
  • Columbia Pictures
I really, really did not want to see Eat, Pray, Love. EVER. I’m just so bored of ladies and their emotions doing stuff—and, worse, the assumption that those three elements alone (ladies, emotions, stuff) are enough to constitute entertainment for other ladies. It's insulting. But my desire to never, ever watch Julia Roberts slurp erotic spaghetti and chant peacefully in Sanskrit was overruled by my desire to not get fired for never seeing Eat, Pray, Love. FINE. To the cinema I went.

Here is what Eat, Pray, Love is about: Julia Roberts (she cannot be anything but Julia Roberts) is a successful travel writer with a house, a million bucks, and a handsome husband. Naturally, she is also paralyzed by abject sorrow: “I had actively participated in every moment of the creation of this life. So why didn’t I see myself in any of it?” She dumps the spouse and embarks on a year-long tripartite journey to find her stupid fucking privileged self.

First up is “eat,” which takes place in Rome. There are only three kinds of people in Rome: old Italian ladies stuffed with wisdom like wrinkly brown manicottis, sexy young ladies who do nothing but eat figs sensually with a knife and fork, and really really hot dudes. Opera music plays while Julia Roberts shovels spaghetti into her orgasm face. Julia Roberts buys “big lady jeans” so she can fit more pizza in there. “Let me teach YOU a word,” says Julia Roberts to her really really hot Italian tutor. She holds up a carafe of wine. “THERAPIST.” Har har.

The second stop is “pray,” in which Julia Roberts travels to tres-exotic India to live at an Ashram and complain a bunch. While there, she gets mosquito bites and learns about the horror of arranged marriage. She ultimately concludes that she needs to “forgive herself”—for what I have no idea. She has literally done nothing but go on vacation and eat spaghetti.

The third and final chapter is “love,” which brings Julia Roberts to the EVEN EXOTICKER shores of Bali. In Bali, she becomes BFFs with a wacky toothless medicine man, meditates some more, gets a bladder infection, and meets her dream man—a fitting finale to a movie all about how you don’t need a husband to be happy as long as you have spaghetti. (Pro tip: It turns out you do!!!) At one point, Javier Bardem runs her over with his car. That part was okay.

Now. I am not opposed to women “finding” themselves. I am not anti-spaghetti. Ladies, feel free to continue appreciating the little things in life and savoring the moment and dreaming of cuddles with Javier Bardem (I love him too). And you know what? Objectively, Eat, Pray, Love isn’t even that BAD as cotton-candy chick flicks go. But the unexamined privilege, the idealization/exotification of all places east, the canned spirituality, the sensual goddamn spaghetti—it’s all so focus-group-tested and Oprah approved and self-perpetuating and embarrassing that I just want to go and hide in an Ashram somewhere and suck on figs forever. And who knows? Maybe I’ll finally find a husband! Not that it matters. (Oh, but it does!!! It DOES.)


[A related must-read from Bitch Magazine, which nails down the problems with Elizabeth Gilbert’s source material (which they dub “priv-lit”) much more eloquently than I could:

Eat, Pray, Love is not the first book of its kind, but it is a perfect example of the genre of priv-lit: literature or media whose expressed goal is one of spiritual, existential, or philosophical enlightenment contingent upon women’s hard work, commitment, and patience, but whose actual barriers to entry are primarily financial. Should its consumers fail, the genre holds them accountable for not being ready to get serious, not “wanting it” enough, or not putting themselves first, while offering no real solutions for the astronomically high tariffs—both financial and social—that exclude all but the most fortunate among us from participating.

You should read the whole thing.]

 

Comments (52) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
seatackled 1
she cannot be anything but Julia Roberts

Bingo! I've never watched her play role that didn't make me think she was her character and not Julia Roberts.
Posted by seatackled on September 14, 2010 at 12:32 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 2
I love Lindy West!!! If the Stranger bosses ever fire you, I'll cast a voodoo pox upon them!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on September 14, 2010 at 12:36 PM · Report this
seandr 3
Lindy's on fire!

BTW - those are in fact the only 3 types of people in Italy.
Posted by seandr on September 14, 2010 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
Wow.

I'm glad I watched Jack Goes Boating instead. That was a lot more fun, especially the eating and loving parts.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on September 14, 2010 at 12:41 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
@3 not really. there are other types.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on September 14, 2010 at 12:42 PM · Report this
6
Few things are less interesting or sympathetic than unhappy rich white people.
Posted by giffy on September 14, 2010 at 12:43 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 7
@1 - She also makes a pretty convincing horse.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on September 14, 2010 at 12:43 PM · Report this
Hernandez 8
If Mrs. Hernandez requires further explanation why I will never, under any circumstances, go see this movie with her, I will direct her to this review. Well done, Ms. West.
Posted by Hernandez http://hernandezlist.blogspot.com on September 14, 2010 at 12:44 PM · Report this
Griffin 9
I love you, Lindy. You are one of the few reviewers out there who, like me, believes that "chic-lit" is like a Chiclet--cloyingly sweet for a bit, and then leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

@3 There are more kinds of people in Italy, just not one Julia Roberts would see. I'm thinking in particular of the middle-aged fat men on the nude beaches who love seeing tourists stop by.
Posted by Griffin on September 14, 2010 at 12:47 PM · Report this
10
@1: Yes, ditto. One of those actors who just play themselves.
Posted by Gloria on September 14, 2010 at 12:48 PM · Report this
Swell 11
Love the priv-lit idea. Would have been better for them to pay street folk to Dine, Beseech, Yearn all over the globe. Now that's what I entertainment!
Posted by Swell on September 14, 2010 at 12:51 PM · Report this
12
Touche... you nailed it.
Posted by Chapstick in Heels on September 14, 2010 at 12:55 PM · Report this
13
Long Live Lindy!
Posted by Jamie in Pittsburgh http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/strawberry.limonade?ref=name on September 14, 2010 at 12:56 PM · Report this
PTrig 14
Fire Lindy. ;)

More French Intern!
Posted by PTrig on September 14, 2010 at 12:59 PM · Report this
Garfield 15
Best Review EVER
Posted by Garfield on September 14, 2010 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 16
we love these reviews, Lindy, cause you say what we feel.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on September 14, 2010 at 1:07 PM · Report this
17
This phenomenon is keeping yoga studios in business.
Posted by I Found Myself In a Spa on September 14, 2010 at 1:08 PM · Report this
seatackled 18
@10: I remember seeing her in the film Michael Collins and thinking, oh, how cute, that's Julia Roberts pretending to be an Irish lass.

I suppose there's nothing wrong with actors who play themselves, but I prefer them in roles where they're supposed to be themselves. (The only one that comes to mind right now is Tina Turner in Mad Max: Beyond Jewish Sugartitsdome.) What I don't like about watching Roberts is that she's usually playing someone who presumably should not come across as Julia Roberts. (The other thing is the Julia Roberts persona is itself both elusive and uncompelling.)
Posted by seatackled on September 14, 2010 at 1:10 PM · Report this
19
Such a great review! Yet I loved this fucking movie, even the parts I haaaated I loved for being such creamy cheese. Maybe you have to really like campy, melodramatic, soft-focusy, cue-the-strings dreamy things about people who know they have more money than sense.

Which I do.
Posted by gloomy gus on September 14, 2010 at 1:11 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 20
@14 - bite your tongue. More both, I say.
@15 - I dunno... this is good, but she hit Sex II so far out of the park they're still looking for it.
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on September 14, 2010 at 1:11 PM · Report this
21
I love you even more now, Lindy West.
Posted by novabird on September 14, 2010 at 1:12 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 22
On a plane yesterday, the woman behind me was reading Eat, Pray, Love and was explaining it to her seatmate. She used the word "self-exploration" a lot. My eyeballs almost rolled themselves out of their sockets.

Note: I have actually read said book (for a book club.... I know), so am not just complaining about something I only think I hate.
Posted by Julie in Eugene on September 14, 2010 at 1:13 PM · Report this
23
Bravo
Posted by rummy42 on September 14, 2010 at 1:13 PM · Report this
24
@18: "I prefer them in roles where they're supposed to be themselves."

Agreed. Some actors do a better job of that than others.
Posted by Gloria on September 14, 2010 at 1:17 PM · Report this
25
I'm a little tired of all the hate that's been heaped on this movie. Not that some hate may not be deserved - I don't know, as I haven't seen it. But I have to wonder whether it's so terribly bad as to deserve ten times the criticism of any bad male-centric movie that's been released in the last decade? Can you even think of any male-centric movie that's been so harshly reviewed, over and over? Does this film have less redeeming qualities than, oh I don't know, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry?" Does it stink more of privilege than that stupid Joaquin Phoenix faux-documentary?
Posted by Luckier on September 14, 2010 at 1:17 PM · Report this
26
The movie wasn't *that* bad, really. What annoyed me was the atrocious choice of aria for the "omgisn'tspaghettiamazing" scene. The sound designer either had no hand in choosing that song, or he was as ignorant of opera as the director.

That aria was from The Magic Flute, and it's sung by a vengeful Queen of the Night. The part of the song that sounds like laughter is not happy laughter, it's vengeful laughter as the Queen is ordering her daughter to murder her political rival or be disowned. Not really an appropriate song to accompany the joyful consumption of spaghetti.
Posted by vinegrrl on September 14, 2010 at 1:25 PM · Report this
pissy mcslogbot 27
i wanna watch Julia enjoy some Gray Matter Gelato.
Posted by pissy mcslogbot on September 14, 2010 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Cory 28
Hahaha awesome review.
Posted by Cory on September 14, 2010 at 1:31 PM · Report this
29
As a relatively well off white American, it is my firm intention to keep my stereotypical spiritual ennui, and any personal remedies for it, to myself. You're welcome, rest of the human race.
Posted by Morosoph on September 14, 2010 at 1:38 PM · Report this
30
@25: Seems to me the issue here is that a lot of "male-centric" movies we think of are mindless blow-em-ups that have little or no pretension of depth or spiritual/moral education or discovery. There's really not much to go on at length, except to say, "Oh hey, another dumb-ass explosion/boob fest."

Not to say that dumb, pretension-free, women-targeted movies don't exist. I do think part of the problem is that a disproportionate of those movies focus on love, which is a difficult topic to handle without coming off schmaltzy or simple most of the time.

"Does it stink more of privilege than that stupid Joaquin Phoenix faux-documentary?"

Does it matter? Nobody's arguing that at all. Moreover, that one movie might ALSO suffer from privilege doesn't mean this one doesn't. I don't understand your point here at all.
Posted by Gloria on September 14, 2010 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Confluence 31
You. Are. Awesome.

Lindy West rocks my world. Best review of a movie ever. Thanks for making my day!
Posted by Confluence on September 14, 2010 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Fnarf 32
@11, "Dine, Beseech, Yearn" is spot-on.

Lindy, you're my hero.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on September 14, 2010 at 2:13 PM · Report this
33
Lindy - yay. Bitch.com - boo.

Sorry, but my eyes rolled into the back of my head so much reading that I suffered eye-roll-induced blindness. Thanks for nothing Bitch.com.

And PS: The CEO of American Apparel is not a misogynist - he's straight up mentally ill. Sorry, but I volunteered in a group home for a few years - the guys that start whacking off in public don't do so because they hate women - they do so because they're disturbed and have yet to find the correct balance of medications.

Have some compassion, bitch.com. Sheesh.
Posted by David Byr on September 14, 2010 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 34
My favorite line:

"At one point, Javier Bardem runs her over with his car. That part was okay."

Vive la Lindy!
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 14, 2010 at 2:20 PM · Report this
Beetlecat 35
So it's basically this:

?:)
Posted by Beetlecat on September 14, 2010 at 2:21 PM · Report this
Posted by Beetlecat on September 14, 2010 at 2:21 PM · Report this
37
O Beetlecat, Charlene's is the craziest "stay at home, sisters" song ever. Her later duet with Stevie Wonder had the immortal line "have another Chivas Regal, you're 12 years old and sex is legal."

Thank you so MUCH!
Posted by gloomy gus on September 14, 2010 at 2:38 PM · Report this
dirac 38
25- this is more about class than gender to me. it's like a femme analogue to the Magic Negro.
Posted by dirac on September 14, 2010 at 2:45 PM · Report this
39
Lindy--you wrote my two favorite film reviews of 2010: this one, and the review of SATC II.

Both were viciously funny. And both were spot-on accurate.

I don't know what you get paid at The Stranger, but they should give you a hefty raise!
Posted by Clayton on September 14, 2010 at 3:19 PM · Report this
Jigae 40
Best review EVER. Thank you for suffering for our amusement.
Posted by Jigae on September 14, 2010 at 3:29 PM · Report this
41
Hate Julia Roberts acting. It's like (to the tune of Miss America), "There she is, Julia Roberts." Ever noticed that no matter what the movie, she has that big horsey laugh and grin (except for Michael Collins but there she was ACTING).

Italians love these stereotypes; just keep coming to Italy and giving them money.

Thanks LIndy for a laugh.
Posted by westello on September 14, 2010 at 3:47 PM · Report this
42
So, Lindy, didja like it?
Posted by Weekilter on September 14, 2010 at 3:49 PM · Report this
oh_man 43
I love you Lindy, I do.
Posted by oh_man on September 14, 2010 at 4:00 PM · Report this
ly_yng 44
Lindy, you are so consistently hilarious that (between all the laughing and peeing myself and whatnot) I sometimes forget how well you write. An awesome review of everything wrong with this movie - really, really great stuff.
Posted by ly_yng on September 14, 2010 at 4:28 PM · Report this
Geni 45
"But the unexamined privilege, the idealization/exotification of all places east, the canned spirituality, the sensual goddamn spaghetti—it’s all so focus-group-tested and Oprah approved and self-perpetuating and embarrassing..."

Truer words were never written. Very astute, Lindy, and very well put. Applause. That, right there, is the problem. Had Eat, Pray, Love taken place in the US (say, New Orleans, Louisville, and Hawaii) instead of the Mystic East (tm), no one would have read it.

Most of the world she visited as a privileged tourist would be thrilled if they could just do the first often enough.
Posted by Geni on September 14, 2010 at 4:37 PM · Report this
46
You summed up my whole problem with the book (haven't seen the movie) with the delightful phrase "unexamined privilege". Damn, you write good.
Posted by Christy O on September 14, 2010 at 5:44 PM · Report this
MichaelPgh 47
O Lindy West ... you are a treasure.
Posted by MichaelPgh http://www.facebook.com/michael.west.pgh on September 14, 2010 at 10:56 PM · Report this
48
@45- That was called "My Blueberry Nights" and nobody watched it. It wasn't bad, Natalie Portman put in her third greatest performance ever. (1st: Leon: The Professional, 2nd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpMPFGBtE…)
Posted by dwight moody on September 14, 2010 at 11:25 PM · Report this
49
Yesssss.

Also, even though L.W. gave equal criticism to "Chuck & Larry," I know I'm guilty of giving more to SATCII, and "Eat Pray Love." But that's because I feel like they're targeted at me, when I don't want them!! "Chuck & Larry," is easier to ignore.
Posted by Fiona1988 on September 15, 2010 at 7:00 AM · Report this
edgyjunecleaver 50
Hey I don't know how you feel about gay group marriage but I think I want to marry you. You said it way better than I did on my blog post: "Eat, Pray, Love My Ass".
Posted by edgyjunecleaver http://edgyjunecleaver.com on September 19, 2010 at 8:40 AM · Report this
51
Someone made an astute comment the other day, can you imagine if a man dumped his wife because she wanted to have children and then went off on a year long trip to find himself what Oprah and her audience would have called him???? How about a self-indulgent, fucking asshole!!!
Posted by nicedavid on September 22, 2010 at 4:17 PM · Report this
52
Loved the blog - but manicotti is already plural. You don't say spaghettis or raviolis.

From a boringly nitpicking Italophile.
Posted by italic on September 25, 2010 at 5:00 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Advertisement
 

Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!


All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy