Remember Garden State? You know that movie about being lost and underemployed in your 20s which began the backlash against Zach Braff, who up until then had been known as J.D. on Scrubs, who was lovable and goofy with a penchant for narrating his life. It premiered just as I was graduating from college in 2004. As embarrassing as this is to admit, I sat alone in theater way over-identifying with the central characters and their displacement. And then I bought the soundtrack, walking around NYC, listening to it on my iPod because it sounded so Sad and Meaningful.
New slang when you notice the stripes/dirt in your fries.
Enough about my not-so-secret shame. This post is not about me (for once!). It’s about how this film (not “movie” because it is Serious) impacted another young, ambitious woman. Here’s a guest post from a a disappointed-in-love woman:
I was a sophomore in high school and had been dating a classmate. It was 2004 so we spent most of our time making out in his car and listening to the Garden State soundtrack. I hadn’t actually seen the movie because I had taken it on good authority that the music was better than the film.
After a month of dating, he broke up with me while we were sitting in his car at the darkened end of a cul-de-sac. Looking deep into my eyes, he told me, “I’m not putting a period at the end of this, you know? I’m putting, like, an ellipsis.”
Even if this breakup had taken me by surprise, I couldn’t help be moved by what I perceived as his sensitivity and sincerity. It was as eloquent a breakup as I had ever experienced. And it was far more original than the standard, “It’s not you, it’s me” speech. His short speech implied that there were other forces at work in his life. He made it sound like he didn’t actually want to end our relationship. All in all, I walked away from that encounter feeling better about a breakup than I had any right to.
And then I watched Garden State.
The realization quickly sunk in–I had been dumped with a line from the movie! Music from the film had provided the backing for our hook-ups and dialogue from it had scripted our breakup. Zach Braff seemed to be directing my love life.
I wondered–why plagiarize a quote from that movie? What was he trying to signal to me, aside from the obvious, which was that it was over? Was the end of high school as confusing and daunting for him as the post-college, twentysomething period was for Braff’s character? Or was this merely lazy, a breakup shortcut?
Perhaps it’s a little bit of all of the above. Breaking up is hard to do (now I’m plagiarizing) so a cheat sheet can be very useful. But this stung more than previous breakups. This guy was one of the first I really liked. To have him end things by ripping off someone else’s words and not speaking for himself added salt to the wound.
Anyone else get dumped via pop culture? Or have a boyfriend/girlfriend crib a song lyric or movie line to escape the trouble of figuring their own thoughts? Leave in the comments.
And to end, a much more hilarious (mis)use of a pop culture moment from Scrubs during which Turk delivers an unintentionally unoriginal speech to his beloved, Carla.