Thoughts on the movie Spring Breakers

* “Spring break forever” is a refrain in the movie, but spring break forever is actually hell. You need “normal” life to contextualize the party and make it special. Not every day can be a festival if a “festival” is to have any meaning. Tucker Max says in Hilarity Ensures that he “worked in Cancun, Mexico for six full weeks during my second year at Duke Law School” and by the end he says “Cancun beat me, like it eventually beats everyone.”

* A lot of the people in the theater were laughing, and so was I, because the absurdity of the movie. Is this a New York cynicism thing? Would the theater have been laughing in Oklahoma or Kansas? It was hard to tell if most of the movie was supposed to be funny.

* I don’t grok in fullness the spring break ideal, because to the extent I want to drink, take drugs, and hook up with random girls, I can do so at home, and it’s triply easy in college. That being said, I understand intellectually that for many people the distance and otherness of spring break lets them decide that “normal” rules don’t apply. . . but if they don’t apply there, why not just decide they don’t apply at home, either? Is this a lack of imagination?

* Young, attractive women very rarely commit armed robberies, as they do at the beginning of Spring Breakers to fund the trip, because armed robberies are not worth doing: from what I’ve read, the going rate for reasonably young, attractive hookers is about $200 – $250 per hour. The characters could have made more money with way less risk with a couple hours and Craigslist. But the armed robbery functions as a symbolic stepping outside of normal boundaries for them. Still, selling sex makes more sense than robbing banks.

* The movie conveys altered states effectively: the jump cuts, the voiceovers, the visual and audio not matching: for the first 50 or so minutes it’s mesmerizing, like some drugs.

* It’s axiomatic that people who do stupid, dangerous things often die. It’s possible to do things that are stupid but not dangerous, like most reality TV, or things that are dangerous but not stupid, like be an astronaut or test pilot, but the convergence of those two is uniquely irritating.

* Spring Breakers is less fun than Magic Mike but shares many points; both movies are set in Florida, and what does that say about the state?

* Related to point #3, spring break as a concept, like Vegas, fascinates me, especially from a woman’s perspective. If you’re a woman, and especially a reasonably attractive one, it isn’t hard to go out and get laid. So why bother pretending that spring break (or Vegas) is fundamentally different than any other part of your life? Some psychological / anthropological mechanism is at work here.

* The reviews that make it sound interesting are exaggerating the movie’s content; if you want porn, go watch porn, and if you want a story, watch a better movie (it’s not impossible to reconcile nudity and story—HBO does it constantly, and well, but too often movies sunder the two, which is strange given how much our early lives are devoted to stories about nudity or seeking it). Also, Tyler Cowen’s characterization is interesting, and I agree about the vitality, at least in the movie’s first half.

* Leaping from the last point, movies in general are in an interesting spot: in an age of Internet porn, there’s no particular reason other than history and path dependence for them to avoid explicit sexuality, but, on the other hand, in an age of Internet porn, showing T&A isn’t sufficient to make a movie interesting.

* I was ready to leave with about twenty minutes left, and offered to go, but she said, “Don’t you want to know what happens?” and I said, “No. Some of them are going to die, but who cares?” In the context of the movie, “Who cares?” is an important, unasked question.

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot « The Story's Story

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