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Rethinking "The Skeleton Twins" (2014)

I haven't been watching many movies lately, unfortunately, so instead I've been finding myself replaying highlights of certain movies in my brain.  It's not nearly as good an experience for a great number of reasons, but it is interesting to see what moments come to the surface.

I'd like to think those monotonous moments where you're washing the dishes or driving for an hour are neutral ground for the inner workings of your brain.  This is probably why I attach too much significance to the cinematic regurgitation of my subconscious that breaks up the mundanity.


Case in point: The Skeleton Twins.  I wrote about this movie a few months ago to bitch about its overall lack of cohesiveness and the general feeling of frustration it left me with.  But it's unfair to leave it at that because the movie did tap into one particular vein of frailty that hits all too close to home.

There's a scene where Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are reconnecting and Wiig says something to the effect of, "You remember how we used to make fun of all those people who peaked in high school?  What if it turned out we're actually the ones who peaked?"  It's a great moment of sincerity and disappointment that becomes more and more relevant to me as time passes.

I blather from time to time about my generation and whether or not it actually is any more selfish than the ones before it, but this line from TST does, I think, invoke something that's been a real struggle for millennials, myself definitely included.  There's a push to be "the best" that is instilled early on.  Blame it on whatever you want - capitalism, a surplus of "you're special" coddling, self esteem, whatever.  I'm not as concerned about how it started as I am about what to do with it.

We've been trained to be sneering, cynical assholes about everything that isn't "the best." The Internet just makes it worse since other sneering, cynical assholes are usually the loudest and you'll end up trying to outdo each other with who can come up with the snarkiest jab at, say, a bad movie, or a bad web comic, or some Youtube video.

And suddenly you're no longer actually trying to get better yourself - you're just trying to distance yourself in any possible way from something that was identified as bad in order to prove to yourself that no, you're good, you're talented, you can recognize when something is utter crap.  It's that other thing that you're making fun of that's a problem.

And then one day you realize you've spent so much time sneering at things that aren't "the best" that you've just flat-lined.  You never actually became smarter or more skilled.  You never painted anything, so your paintings suck.  You never practiced the guitar, so you can't play for shit.  Your talents are mostly A) sneering at things, and B) thinking you're funny.  It worked when you were in high school... but you're not in school anymore.  You're 30 and you have to be an adult now.

You peaked long ago.

There's so much hubris in the negativity of youth that it's mind-blowing to think anybody ever gets anything done.  I recognize that this doesn't apply to all people - just assholes, mainly - but where do those who achieve things draw their strength?  If you're somebody who says, "No, I'm not willing to settle for being the sarcastic guy, I want to actually go and make something happen," how do you persevere when everybody around you is just frothing at the mouth with bitterness?

There have been many lonely nights in the company of friends where I've worried that my peak ended the minute I entered the work force.  I can't say I still feel that way now, but when I catch myself fretting about whether or not my books will ever make any headway or if all the lessons I want to teach to my kids will ever stick, my subconscious cues up that scene from The Skeleton Twins.  And when I go into a trance where all the other baggage of the day slips away, that scene moves to the forefront.

I guess this is all a long-winded way of saying that the movie was a lot better than my initial write-up gave it credit for.  I have my complaints, sure.  It's still a worthwhile watch.

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