REALITY BITES FEATURE
‘Winona Ryder kinda likes him though, in the way cute movie girls have fallen for objectionable self-obsessed slobs ever since the silent days.’
50s and 60s. The trouble with the 90s incarna- tion is ofcourse its relentless bloody articulacy. Offered the question ‘What are you rebelling against Johnny‘." the answer would be along the lines of ‘Rebellion is an outdated response to the essential overwhelming nothingness of the end-of—millennium state. Evasion. self- aflirmation. communication are the only meaningful responses.‘
Not that we’re fooled. Director Ben Stiller has merely applied a coat of yoguish alienation to his cardboard cut-out characters and confirms the essentially old-fashioned ethos of his ﬁlm by appearing himself. playing the straight. careerist patsy whom our Winona has to toy with while she’s annoyed with her grubby true love. ‘lt's so cheesy 1 can‘t take it without crackers’ as she herself says in a typically contrived line.
It’s tempting to attribute the film’s hollow- ness to the emptiness of the Generation X-ers themselves. but that would be inaccurate. Coupland’s book is playful and obsessed with trivia. but makes some pointed observations about an age-group where expectations of income. employment. successful relationships and social status are significantly lower than their parents‘. There is something of substance to be said about this mass desire to opt out. not to use extensive educational skills in a socially acceptable way. about a generation of people that have seen over three weeks‘, worth of solid TV advertising in their lives, and have been brought up with the idea of the mall as a consumerist-spiritual ghetto, but insist ‘I am not a target market.’
lt will take an infinitely subtler director than Stiller to provide it. His depiction of cash-flow problems (the ‘Poverty Bites' syndrome Coupland identiﬁed) finds BMW-driving Lelaina having to use her Daddy‘s credit card for groceries. ‘l‘m only getting $400 a week’ whines her roommate. Hearts fail to bleed.
The one moment of true irony in the film comes when Stiller’s character. a cable TV executive, takes Lelaina‘s lovingly-compiled video documentary of her generational confréres and whips it up into a snappy. superficial and insultingly crass glimpse of slacker life for his ‘ln Your Face’ channel, calling it Reality Bites. Many a true word and all that. Cl
Reality Bites Opens at City Centre MGMs and ‘h r“ = - ‘ ' « I U C Is from F rzday 17 June. Bodles, Rest and Motlon: At least It got the scum Iltestyle tlght.
The List 17—30 June 199415