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The Bling Ring + META Pop Culture + Really though, I just wanna rob…

Despite its not-so-stellar reviews, I saw The Bling Ring last weekend because I’m obsessed with Emma Watson and also think pretty people/things are cool and nice. I don’t love Sophia Coppola. I wasn’t expecting anything Oscar-worthy. I went into the movie with low expectations, and wasn’t too disappointed when I left the theater.

HOWEVER: Having just read Nancy Jo Sales’ original Vanity Fair article and, more recent/relevant: her interview with Papermag about the release of her book, I have some thoughts. Nancy Jo, who specializes in “privileged youth acting out” (SIDE NOTE TO NJ: your article was cool and everything but imho you should get a new specialty. I mean, HELLO, people are dying on VICE HBO like, weekly…right?), says the Bling Ringers “wanted to live this lifestyle that’s promoted by pop culture — we’ve seen it ever since the ’90s in hip-hop videos and Gossip Girl and Entourage. It’s popping the Cristal. They were doing that. In the book, I call it a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s a clichéd experience that means ‘we’re having a good time.'” Lamenting the vapid nature of “pop culture,” Nancy Jo comes pretty close to but doesn’t quite characterize the Ring as a group of lost souls, who could have avoided their sad fate, had our *big bad scary culture* not imposed superficiality and celebrity obsession upon them via TMZ and Perez Hilton.

MUGSHOTZ: the Original Gangsters whoops I mean Bling Ringers...

MUGSHOTZ: the Original Gangsters whoops I mean Bling Ringers…

“The themes [touched on] are celebrity obsession, hypersexualization of women and girls in our culture, materialism, obsession with luxury brands and fashion. I love fashion but it’s been so sad to me over the last 10-15 years to watch women and young girls become more convinced by our culture that they have to have certain things in order to look good or be fashionable. None of this is a judgment call on the women or girls, it’s more on the values that are being pushed on a culture that’s just going mad for wealth and mad for things and materialism and more and more stuff. And if you don’t have this stuff, the culture seems to say you’re some kind of a loser. It obviously affects kids’ self esteem and sense of self-worth.”

Coppola has said similar things. It’s a comment on the superficiality and fast lifestyles imposed upon our already unmotivated youth! Tragedy!

Okay, so this is a serious issue. Then why didn’t the movie take it seriously? Why did I leave thinking “wow, that sounds more fun than my lame ass high school experience?” You know you didn’t accomplish your filmmaking goals when the first thing audience members say upon exiting the theater is, “but really, where does Paris Hilton live?”

I was like…

emma watson

and then I practiced my tongue-face-shoulder-bounce moves in my mirror a little, lamented my lack of diamonds and a shoe closet, and went to bed.

Here’s what I think: Sophia is a similarly spoiled, superficial Daddy’s girl (a la Bling Ringers), who felt like making a movie with pretty stuff in it and has always had Daddy’s name/Klout score/$$$ to do so. She found a Vanity Fair article that suited her (not even a whole book to read before adapting!) and went for it because no one says no to her. HOWEVER, instead of making a comment on the vapid nature of our celebrity-obsessed selves, she made a character-less movie that barely skimmed the surface of the themes she was trying to touch on, starring a flat-faced, untalented actress, that ended as soon as it started to get good (aka, when Emma Watson became the center of the movie).

Seriously Katie Chang why is your face flat?

Seriously Katie Chang why is your face flat?

I left with two thoughts.

1. Hope I can afford one of those houses one day.

2. I wanna robbbbbbb.

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2 thoughts on “The Bling Ring + META Pop Culture + Really though, I just wanna rob…

  1. Regarding your comments on Sofia Coppola, I don’t think this has anything to do with her personal background. I think that is an unfair trick employed by a lot of critics to call her out for something that quite honestly has nothing to do with her filmography. Yes – her three most recent films clearly have to do with the problems that come from wealth, celebrity, superficiality (in somewhat respective order, but relevant to all three). Obviously, there are funny moments (the dance scenes, including the nice .gif above) and great phrases (you picked a great one with “I just wanna rob…” – I’ve been saying that to people who have no idea what I’m talking about for the past two weeks now), but I certainly came away from the film affected by the insidious, almost disease-like nature of materialism that pervaded each of the film’s scenes and characters. It felt overly exaggerated at times, but this wasn’t just a throwaway movie. It had a purpose, and I don’t think it’s fair to call out Sofia Coppola’s personal background as any reason for any artistic failings you perceived; that’s a throwaway critique.

    -Daniel

    ps: more on this matter here: http://blogs.indiewire.com/criticwire/does-sofia-coppola-have-a-problem-with-privilege-or-do-her-critics

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