How the Mad Men Pilot Took Us to the Moon

Everything that happens in the Mad Men pilot is a perfect flight plan for where it ends up in the final season mid-season finale. It gives us coordinates for happiness, the safety instructions for love, and the cruising altitude for cynicism. 

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Mad Men is not traditional television. It’s not a plot-driven show, it’s a character/theory-driven show. When it comes down to it, Mad Men is a literary show. I always say, “it’s the greatest essay about 1960s America ever written” to which my friends respond, “Alice — please stop talking and drink your IPA.” But what I mean by literary is that it puts forward a thesis argument and aims to prove its thesis.

So what’s Mad Men’s thesis? Well, let’s look at how Don defines advertising in the pilot… because that’s what the show is about after all: 

Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car… It’s freedom from fear.  It’s a billboard on the side of the road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is okay. It’s okay. You are okay.

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But. Spoiler alert: Don is not happy. He has everything that’s supposed to make him happy — a wife, a kids, and a car, but he’s still not. Why not? Because it’s 1961, not 1950. And the times, they are-a-fuckin-changin. So, at it’s very core, Mad Men is about how the 1960s forced Americans to redefine happiness by realizing tradition and ideas of normalcy were fundamentally flawed.  (FYI: this is also my thesis – see what I did there? I trapped you into a critical essay! I have a cinema studies minor, bitch!) 

When I say tradition and normalcy, I’m referring the fifties post-war nuclear family in relation to the suburban “American Dream.” After WWII, the U.S. tried to mass produce “The American Dream” by hermetically sealing it in tiny little boxes. “The American Dream” is a husband at work and a wife at home. “The American Dream” is little Bobby playing football and little Sally playing house. “The American Dream” was always in quotes, because the problem with dreams is that they aren’t reality.  

In The Strategy, Peggy tries to figure out her pitch for the fast food chain, Burger Chef. Her initial idea is based around a happy traditional family chowing down at a kitchen table. She knows it’s too white bread. The more she and Don work on the idea in terms of the traditional family, the more frustrating it becomes. 

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PEGGY: Jesus, it’s feeling like 1955
DON: 1955 was a good year.
PEGGY: I don’t remember. 1965 was a good year.
DON: I got married 

Already, we’re aware that Don remembers the 50s as an ideal state, and his 60s remarriage as something inferior. He’s part of the overall mindset that there was something good and wholesome and better about the previous decade.. When Peggy continues to work through different housewife tropes, she gets sick of of this idealism:

PEGGY: Mom burned the roast. She dented the fender. She backed over the dog. Little Katie’s pregnant. Jimmy got drafted, but there’s still burger and fries on the table! Does this family exist anymore? Are there people who eat dinner and smile at each other instead of watching TV? Did you ever do that with your family? 

DON: I don’t remember.

As it turns out, Don’s nostalgia is actually amnesia. It’s 1969, and neither are sure if the happy family was ever real. The norm they compare their lives to is no longer reassuring. If Don was right, and advertising is based on the idea that “you are okay,” then no one should have to keep up with the Joneses. 

But did The Jones ever exist? 

The pilot asks this too. The episode begins with Don in the city, staying the night in the village with an artist, and then working all day. We think he’s a free-thinking bachelor until we follow him to the suburbs. The last shot basically says BAM MOTHERFUCKERS, WELCOME TO MAD MEN: 

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This is the American fantasy. Husband in the city/ wife in the country/ kids forever innocent. The man can do whatever he wants because he’s the man. Who created this ideal? Men. (surprise!)

And then… Somehow, 8 years later, we end up here: 

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This is the American reality. A place where whoever you are sitting with is family.

So how does Mad Men get us there? With characters who are in a constant struggle to find happiness. Pete, Don, and Peggy each represent a different version of 1960s America: Pete is the past, Peggy is the future, and Don is torn between the two.

Alright. Whew. How are we feeling? Take a break. Do a dance. Open a new tab. Text your friends. Stay with me. 

Peter Campbell: A Small Penis in a Big Patriarchy 

Pete is trapped by tradition. He defines his existence based on the family ideal. So it’s only fitting that in the pilot, he’s getting married. 

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Our introduction to Pete is a giddy lovestruck fiancé. But we don’t buy it. He’s a smarmy ass-kisser who thinks he’s entitled to everything. When he criticizes Peggy’s clothing, he’s also flirting with her. (see: Matt Weiner on Vincent Kartheiser). 

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Pete sincerely thinks he’s complimenting Peggy in this scene. It’s not just because he’s a fucker, but also because he’s so fundamentally privileged (white/wealthy/male) that he has actually zero idea that what he’s saying is wrong. When Don calls him out, he makes this face:

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Pete 100% believes men can do whatever they want. So, Don decides to take him down a notch:

You’ll die in that corner office: a mid-level account executive with a little bit of hair, who women go home with out of pity. And you know why? Because no one will like you.

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The rest of the episode, Pete tries to prove himself. He first undermines Don by pitching his own idea in the Lucky Strike meeting. Of course he fails miserably, causing Don to hate him more than he already does. 

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Then, he’s rejected by a girl at his own bachelor party.

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Pete ends his last night of bachelordom at Peggy’s apartment under the belief that he can get whatever he wants. And Peggy gives that to him, because he wouldn’t be this way if he didn’t get what he wanted (at least some of the time).

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But he’s playing a fifties game into a sixties world. And the rules are changing. Fast.

By 1969, Pete’s entitlement has caused him to crash and burn, ending with a do-over attempt in sunny LA. He seems ostensibly happy, talking about “vibrations” and dating a hot real estate professional. The kicker is, Pete could be happy. But, unfortunately, he’s still trapped in the old world order. 

He listens to Peggy, but he’ll always refer to Don for final approval. It was his idea for Don to present to Burger Chef instead of Peggy. And he still says things like,

“you know that she’s every bit as good as any woman in this business.” 

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He’s also deeply uncomfortable with the fact that his girlfriend is in control of her own life. She’s the one that instigates sex, and she won’t put up with his bullshit excuses.

So. When he goes back to his suburban house, part of him still expects the happy family to be waiting for him. But, his daughter is afraid of him, and Trudy avoids him.

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The moment he decides to wait for Trudy is the moment we know that Pete cannot be happy. He’s too busy defining his life in relation to tradition — to the 1950s American ideal. He looks around Trudy’s house (which he would still consider his own), he takes a beer out of the fridge. He basically says to his imaginary submissive housewife, “honey, I’m home!”

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It’s almost a tragic scene when he confronts Trudy:

PETE: You picked tonight for your date. You still care about me. I know your debutante maneuvers
TRUDY: We are getting a divorce

PETE: We’re still married
TRUDY: You’re not part of this family anymore

His only response is to stick his beer into the cake. 

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And if anything could symbolize Pete Campbell/the patriarchy as a whole, it’s a beer-cake. 

Donald Draper: Orphaned from the Feels

In the pilot, Don thinks he has everything figured out. Creatives always believe they’re above traditional forms of happiness because nothing is more fulfilling than an artistic breakthrough. We’re super annoying like that. Matt Weiner introduces Don as a progressive man who dates beatniks and shuts down sexism. He wants us to know that Don is an enlightened human being. See: Don and Midge’s morning pillow talk:

DON: We should get married
MIDGE: You think I’d make a good ex wife?
DON: I’m serious. You have your own business and you don’t care when I come over.
MIDGE: You know the rules. I don’t make plans and I don’t make breakfast

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(LOL DON HAS TWO FAILED MARRIAGES NOW)

So, when Don ends up in the suburbs, we realize that he’s at war with himself — one side of him is aware of the uncertain future that exists in the art scene, the other side of him identifies with idealized past that exists in the suburbs.

Then, Rachel Menken comes into the mix. She rejects Don’s pitch for her department store, and he tells her “I’m not going to let a woman tell me what to do.” (Oops! Bad Don!) So then he has to take Rachel out to drinks to mend the relationship. This scene is so important that maybe you should watch it here. But here’s the dialogue: 

DON: So you won’t get  married because you think business is a thrill?
RACHEL: That, and I have never been in love.
DON: “She won’t get married because she’s never been in love.” I think  I wrote that. It was to sell nylons.
RACHEL: For a lot of people, love isn’t just a slogan.
DON: Oh, “love”. You mean the big lightning bolt to the heart, where you can’t eat, can’t work, so you run off and get married and make babies.
(Don looks at Rachel and smiles. She doesn’t smile back.)
DON: The reason you haven’t felt it is because it doesn’t exist. What you call “love” was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.
RACHEL: Is that right?
DON: I’m pretty sure about it. You’re born alone, you die alone, and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts. But I never forget. I’m living like there’s no tomorrow, because there isn’t one.

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Don believes that he sells love. He sells happiness. They’re two intangible nouns that people like him are smart enough to know don’t exist. The only reason he has a wife and kids is because those are the rules of the world. Biologically speaking, we’re supposed to procreate. Traditionally speaking, we’re supposed to get married so we can procreate. Masculinity for centuries was defined by how and when a man could stick his penis inside a vagina. Femininity was defined by how a woman could attract a male so they could bear future humans. All the rules we made about society were a tricky side-effect of human consciousness — the desire to attach emotion and meaning to life.

So, when Rachel responds with this: 

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She’s realizing that it’s also difficult to men to find meaning in their lives if they aren’t all providers, and women aren’t all mothers. Men might’ve been in charge for the vast majority of history, but women spent those centuries figuring out how to interpret the world through feelings. The man’s job was to be strong, the woman’s job was to be there for him.

To which Don says:

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Because #men. And also because that was the last response he was expecting. It would never occur to him that his difficulties in life are because he’s a self-aware and intelligent man. Or, as Rachel explains:

I know what it feels like to be out of place. To be disconnected. To see the world laid out in front of you the way other people live it. And there is something about you that tells me you know it too.

Don’s answer is alcohol.

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He is disconnected from the versions of happiness and love that he sells. He was raised by women who sold themselves for sex. All he ever wanted was to live a normal life. He reinvented himself as “Don Draper, the army vet” so he could be the alpha male husband. He drapes a veil over the world. Weiner named him “Don Draper” for fuck’s sake.

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To reduce Don Draper to a classic lothario ladies man is to not understand what Mad Men is saying about masculinity. Don never had a mother. He doesn’t have any idea what family is. He searches for women who can give him the same reassurance that his advertising gives people — that everything he is doing is okay. He marries Megan over trying to fall in love because he’s desperate to look normal. No one wants people to think they’re weird. The idea is: if you follow the rules, you’re going to be okay.

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The Hershey’s speech is the first time in the show Don realizes that he’s bought into the rules of happiness that he sells.

Much like the idyllic family idea in Peggy’s Burger Chef pitch, Don gives the Hershey clients a picturesque view of America. He tells a made up personal story where his father buys him a chocolate bar as a reward for hard work. The conclusion? “His love and the chocolate were forever tied together.” It’s a great pitch, but then a million little synapses happen in Don’s brain at once. He has to end the lie. And he has to end it in this room. 

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He explains that he never had a father reward him for work, but instead a prostitute reward him for stealing.

The closest I got to feeling wanted was from a girl who made me go through her john’s pockets while they screwed. If I collected more than a dollar, she would buy me a Hershey bar. And I would eat it. Alone. In my room. With great ceremony — feeling like a normal kid…If you had it my way you would never advertise. You shouldn’t have someone like me tell that boy what a Hershey bar is. He already knows.

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Don’s epiphany is that, deep down, he’s still that boy who wants to be normal. His strong emotional memory about the one girl who cared about him overpowers the fake tale of a traditional father/son. When he says “you shouldn’t have someone like me tell that boy what a Hershey bar is,” he’s directly combating when he told Rachel, “what you call love was invented by guys like me.” He remembers what the girl who gave him the Hershey bar meant to him — and it was a real feeling — and it was love.

In this final season, Don is really trying with Megan. He doesn’t have an affair,  and he wants to believe there’s something to the relationship. But, it’s already too damaged. He didn’t try to move out to LA for a reboot like Pete — he couldn’t. Don had to get his job back, because working was the only solid proof for fulfillment (lol silly creatives!). He never loved Megan. She was just the right secretary at the right time.

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When Meredith comes onto him in the last episode, it’s a reference to all the relationships the male characters had with their secretaries: from Peggy coming onto Don in the pilot, to Roger marrying Jane, to Don marrying Megan.  And it’s hilarious.

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It feels so completely out of place. And that’s how far we’ve come in 1969, where it’s silly at this point for the secretary to think she’s at her boss’s disposal so he can feel better.

But the truth is, Don is feeling vulnerable. This is the most vulnerable he’s been in the entire show. But finally, he’s aware that a woman cannot solve his problems. He no longer has to prove his manhood, he just needs to keep his job.

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In the previous episode, Don told Peggy his two greatest fears:

PEGGY: What do you have to worry about?
DON: That I never did anything. That I don’t have anyone.

Don is scared. He’s scared he has nothing to show for his life, and he’s scared of dying alone. Those possibilities are very real because he structured his life around fitting a tradition, not around meaning. But now… Well… He’s living for tomorrow, because he knows there is one.

It’s hard to be a man, too. 

Peggy Olson: The Voice of Non-Moms

From the very beginning of Mad Men, Peggy wants approval. She wants to do everything right, so she can be affirmed that she’s living her life right. She’s also incredibly insecure because she’s doesn’t fit in. And she doesn’t fit in because she’s smarter than most of the other girls. While Don can own his intelligence, Peggy has to hide it. 

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This is the first shot of Peggy. The show wastes no time in putting us in a world where sexism was blatant, socially acceptable, and vulgar. Throughout the entire episode, Peggy is told that she needs to dress better and show off her body. Joan informs her this is the path to finding a husband, which she assumes is why Peggy is there in the first place. Why would a woman work if she didn’t want to surround herself by eligible mates? The entire episode is a direct assault on her body:

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(Also Kristen Schaal shout out!)

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All Peggy is trying to do is learn the ropes, but the way she dresses and how she looks enters into every single conversation. Sleeping with Don is so blatantly talked about, she considers it a foregone conclusion. But she’s assigned to Don Draper, not Pete Campbell.

So when she makes her move:

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He says:

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Don’s rejection of Peggy is a relief to us and to her: finally someone isn’t going to evaluate Peggy only based on how she looks! But what you have to understand is that this rejection also makes Peggy feel like she did something wrong — that she looks wrong. It lowers her confidence.

So OF COURSE she lets Pete into her house at the end. She needs to feel wanted as much as he needs to feel entitled to want her.

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This small response “me?” is everything. Me? You want me? Over everyone else? Peggy’s entire arc in the show is about gaining enough confidence to get over “me?” Yeah, of course you Peggy. You’re the best! (but not based on being an object. def not that.)

And that’s what Don gives her. Back to 1969: Peggy admits to Don that she’s 30, and she feels incredibly inadequate.

PEGGY: I looked in the window of so many station wagons. What did I do wrong?
DON: Don’t worry.

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The thing is, Peggy didn’t do anything wrong. She knows this on a logical level, and Don tells her not to worry — but she’s struggling against the inherent structure of how she’s supposed to define happiness. She’s a 30 year old single woman at the top of her career who owns an apartment building. She should feel completely confident and content! Unfortunately, she can be reduced to tears thinking what life would be like if she had found a husband and settled — done the “right” thing.

But the 60s shifted the meaning of “right” and “normal.” Which means how we define happiness has shifted. When Peggy figures out the Burger Chef pitch, she’s figuring out how Americans are going to live their lives for the next decade and beyond.

What if there was a place…Where you could go… Where there was no TV. And you could break bread. And whoever you were sitting with was family.

And in this moment, Peggy realizes she’s figured it out. And Don knows it too. And Frank Sinatra’s My Way is playing. And Don asks her to dance. Because they’re each other’s family. 

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Matt Weiner explains why Peggy & Don need each other: It has the structure of a romantic relationship, but to me it was about: Don cannot give Peggy confidence and Peggy cannot give Don integrity; both of them have to earn it for themselves. Part of the reason Don gives Peggy the Burger Chef pitch is because his fear “I never did anything” would only come true if he actually never did anything.  Don has done something — he’s mentored Peggy. He gives Peggy the pitch because he knows she needs it. This began when he took her hand off of his. Don makes sure Peggy knows she is more than just a woman. Because he knows that she’s internalized that fact.

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And Peggy nails the pitch. She proves Pete wrong. She and Don did it together.

Because they’re entering the 70s together, having evolved.

Because they did it their way.

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YOU STILL HERE?  WANNA TALK ABOUT BOBBY AND JULIO? 

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 NOPE? OKAY, LET’S KEEP GOING.

One Small Step for [a] Man, One Giant Leap for Mankind

So what’s the moon landing got to do with it? As we watch our characters connect with each other and watch something monumental together, we feel a seismic shift that the world is changing. Mad Men reminds us that the moon landing was one of the biggest collective events in history. If we’re no longer insulated within the traditional family, all we have is each other. Where were you when Obama was inaugurated? Where were you when the Red Wedding happened? 

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The television set replaced the hearth, one-hour dramas replaced campfire tales, and twitter replaced making eye contact through the flames. It is human nature to hear stories and talk about them with each other. It’s in our fucking DNA.

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Everyone is so confused and alone all the time, but when a show or movie really speaks to you and you can’t wait to talk to others about it — well, that’s what it must’ve felt like to hear that there was a big guy in the sky looking out for you. It’s probably not a coincidence television is on Sunday night. (Am I saying storytelling is replacing religion? AM I????)

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We are social creatures. We find meaning based on talking to others. We experience life better when we’re with someone else.

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Peggy looks at Don immediately when mankind steps on the moon, because she knows this moment means more to him than it does to her. When you understand someone, when you really, really get someone, the human brain allows you to experience life through their eyes as much as yours. And that feeling — when you both interact with the world in the same way — that’s where happiness and love really exist.

And that’s what the Burger Chef pitch is about. Peggy sees a future where everything we do is based on connecting with each other. The nuclear family is too insulated for social animals. 

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1961 was the year everything started to change. 1969 is the year we landed on the moon. A lot of our nation’s worst tragedies happened between them, but we evolved as a society.

And Mad Men shows us what it’s done for Don’s kids. After the moon landing, Don calls home in hopes of hearing an eager child feeling excited about the future. What he gets is a teenage Sally who wants to disconnect. She parrots the apathetic jock, saying that the moon landing was a waste of money. But Don won’t have it.

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Don tells her not to be cynical because he already went down that road, and Rachel Menken recognized it in him. He has to make sure his daughter doesn’t detach like he did. The worst thing we can do is cut ourselves off from feeling. It’s so easy to be apathetic. It’s so easy to see the world laid out in front of you the way other people live it.  But no one is above existing, or optimism, or feeling like everything going to be okay. We’re just one species on one planet together. And that’s why Sally looks to the stars.

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Sally connects with the smart brother because he cares about something instead of rolling his eyes.  She chooses brains over braun. The best thing about human evolution is that it allowed our minds to love people with similar minds, and not base our attraction on optimal mating attributes.

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That’s the end of gender norms. That’s the beginning of a new America. One where Pete Campbell is obsolete. One where Peggy Olson is as good as any man. One where Don Draper isn’t just a boy wishing he was normal.

One where we can fall in love with an idea,

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or a person who understand us,

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or a beautiful story.

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And here to tell that story is Mad Men.

Because we’re starved for it.

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22 OKCupid Dealbreakers

Hi. So I couldn’t sleep and was browsing okc (as you doooooo) and realized how quickly I turned people down (not because of looks). So here’s a smattering of nope moments:

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(why did he even bother with the crucible and to kill a mocking bird??)

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(how much white bread does a person have to consume in order for their top 5 shows to be the mentalist, white collar, boston legal, modern family, and suits)

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(the progression)

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The LEGO Movie is Millennial Gospel

“Is this the line for The LEGO Movie?” we sheepishly asked a crowd of other 20-somethings in a line for a 9:50 showing of a kids’ movie at Williamsburg cinemas – yeah, it was. While not totally sold out, the semi-adult crowd filled up the theater, either totally bored on a Saturday night or curious about the early buzz from respectable critics.

Or maybe they were just 15 again like me.

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And while all 3D movies are fun in a certain state, this movie is one of those miraculous ones that acts like a drug – a movie that makes you totally happy. But why did it work?

The LEGO Movie re-affirms to millennials that yes, we are special. We are special. That’s the message. Keep repeating it – because it’s the only thing we can hold onto anymore. I’m special, you’re special, we’re all fucking special.

I’m not going to spoil the plot, but I will say it’s set in a dystopian universe, similar to The Truman Show or Wall*E. Our hero, Emmit, follows an instruction manual on “how to be happy” put forward by President Business – the instructions range from “wake up in the morning” to more sinister “buy overpriced coffee.” Everyone loves the song on the radio “Everything is Awesome” and everyone is happy in this idyllic world. They’re happy because they follow exactly what they’re told to do.

To get a taste, The Lonely Island wrote some verses:

I just heard the news
Everyone’s talking: Life is good!
‘Cause everything’s awesome
Awesome jobs and new opportunity
More free time for my awesome community
I feel more awesome than an awesome possum
Put my body in chocolate frosting
Three years later, washed out the frosting
Smelling like a possum, everything is awesome
Stepped in mud, got new brown shoes
It’s awesome to win and it’s awesome to lose

However, Emmit breaks routine when he meets a girl Lego who tells him he’s the chosen one – he’s special – something he’s never heard before. You’re immediately invested. Everyone loves a movie about non-conformity.

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The other main aspect to the movie’s success is the Toy Story factor. The animation is incredible: it feels like stop motion and it feels like we’re in the best lego set we ever could’ve imagined as kids. We watch movies to be able to escape, but when we were younger, we used to be able to escape on our own. Playing was the most important part of my childhood… writing always felt like a natural extension of that.

So, it’s easy to say The LEGO Movie plays on nostalgia — it’s jam-packed with the pieces we used for our own creations, from Batman to the weird ghost guy to the special Star Wars set. What Legos did you play with? I was always more of a Playmobil kid, but the mystique of friends’ houses with Lego collections never escaped me. 

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Look at these fine individuals!

This nostalgia factor also heavily plays into why this movie works for millennials. Legos have been around a long time, but this movie is about the way we grew up with them – the pop culture sets that we had. Not the early Lego sets, initially made to follow the building instructions in an assembly line America.

But Legos for our generation? …well, it was the 90s. We were told to color outside the lines, be different, BE YOURSELF… and where did that get us? Where are we now? An anxious mess of a generation, terrified our college degrees mean nothing, and grasping for something to define us – our cover letters, personal statements, college essays, and Facebook “About Me’s” all fade eventually. 

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But, if you’re like me, that’s what art is for – to put anxiety at ease. The LEGO Movie doesn’t do that – it’s not a cinematic film with a literary thesis (don’t worry, I won’t go into movie vs. film distinctions). It’s not an intellectual film the way Inside Llewyn Davis is about thinking you’re special but being good rather than great…

…or the way Wolf of Wall Street is about a special individual who becomes trapped by his own obscene selfishness

…or the way Her is about falling in love with someone who makes you feel special, only to realize others have experienced it too

…or the way American Hustle is about hair-pieces and microwaves

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The difference between the protagonist of The LEGO Movie and the protagonist of all these hold-a-light-up-to-society films is that Emmit doesn’t already think he’s special – he has to be convinced. We have believed we’re different and unique for so long, we’ve forgotten what it’s like for someone to tell us.

Which brings me to My Favorite Comment on Commercialism and Our Generation Told By Levis Ads

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Here is the kind of 50s ad that inspired JD Salinger to write Catcher in the Rye – Buy Levis so you can be like everyone else, buy Levis because the guy you admire has Levis.

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This is for us. Go forth! Don’t wear a shirt. Fuck society. If you wear Levis, you don’t have to be like the rest. You can see sunsets, you can be in nature, you’re not tied down to Netflix buffering. Or, as my favorite line from this campaign says:

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What’s the problem here? Men in Suits made this advertisement… so what do you do now? We grew up being told we’re different, advertisements still tell us we’re different, but how can we be different if everyone else is too? The LEGO Movie comes to this conclusion: as long as you know you’re special, you are special. Pretty gay, right? Well, gay as in happy – because I smiled, god dammit. I went “aww.” It’s a feel-good moment and a little earnestness can go a long way.

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The movie is about the greatest existential struggle we’ve had to deal with since the 1950s gave us enough conveniences and free time so we could have existential struggles. And it’s the fucking LEGO MOVIE. The most branded, the most commercial, the most manipulative type of creation on the planet works because it’s self-aware and gives us the message we didn’t know we were craving.

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Oh, and the new generation (who the movie was actually made for) might be special too, but not as special as we are. Not as special as you.

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5 Alternate Endings to Gravity

WOWWWW. Whaat. a. MOVIE. No, what a FILM. Like two thumbs up, five stars. All the way.

But I noticed some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes that made me seriously question my immediate reaction.  These intellectual cinephiles bring up good points that are hard to ignore:

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I thought about it and here are some different endings that could make everyone happy.

EXT. OCEAN — DAY

Sandra Bullock’s pod crash lands into the water. She opens up the door.

She’s landed right next to CAPTAIN PHILLIPS BOAT.

A SOMALI PIRATE points a gun at her.

Somali Pirate: I’m the captain now

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EXT. OCEAN — DAY

Sandra Bullock opens the pod door. The ship begins to sink. She tries to swim out. Fishes are all around her.

Suddenly, the fishes go into formation.  They begin to sing UNDER THE SEA. Sandra gulps for BREATH, but can’t get out.

URSULA appears out of nowhere.

Ursula : Darling it’s better. Down where it’s wetter.

Sandra grows a MERMAID TAIL.  She breathes again.

Ursula (whispers, low): Take it from me

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INT. SPACE POD — DAY

Sandra braces herself as she CRASHES into the ocean. She sees water splashing up against the door window.

Sandra tries to push the door open. It won’t budge. She sees something float by the window.

It’s WILSON THE VOLLEYBALL

EXT. OCEAN — DAY

We pull back to see the space pod and Wilson float side by side.

GOD ONLY KNOWS by the Beach Boys plays as we FADE TO BLACK.

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EXT. BEACH — DAY

Sandra struggles up onto the Earth. She feels the sand between her fingers. Finally – she’s made it. She’s home.

She looks up.

APES roam the planet.

This isn’t Earth.

An ORANGUTAN leaps up and ROARS.

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EXT. BEACH — DAY

Sandra walks out of the ocean. She smiles to herself.

Sandra Bullock: Houston, we have a problem.

She chuckles quietly. She begins to laugh.

EXT. SMALL ASIAN VILLAGE — DAY

A rumble of laughter can be heard from a distance. Villagers look at each other, confused.

Ext. MOUNTAIN RANGE — DAY

Sandra Bullock’s laughter continues to echo.

EXT. NEW YORK CITY — DAY

Tourists peer out from the Empire State building – where is this powerful chortle coming from?

EXT. MARS — DAY

GEORGE CLOONEY plays fetch with the MARS ROVER. He hears a laugh unlike any he’s ever heard. A smile creeps across his face.

George Clooney: Atta girl.

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Hey Alfonso, I hope you’re listening. Keep these in mind for GRAVITY 2: ALL THE WEIGH HOME

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Top 5 Alcohol Induced Shame Moments (Sorry Mom and Dad)

I have very little self-control. Most of the time, this manifests itself in watching an entire season of The Sopranos in one weekend. Other times, well… you’ve seen my obnoxious social media presence. However, the worst times include this poisonous substance we all seem to be familiar with that’s called alcohol.

(I think I’m this)

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(I’m really this)

So inspired by Chris Gethard (who actually had a real alcohol problem and is not just a total idiot), I decided to reveal my stories usually reserved for fun bar-talk. You should feel lucky. I’m really fun to be at a bar with. And now you won’t ever want to drink with me again. Here we go.

1)   Peeing by the West Side Highway

Freshman year is about making new friends, being in a new city, and having no idea what limits mean. Every Thursday night, a couple blocks in Chelsea grow crowded with gallery openings and free wine. While the majority of the people are there for art, there is a distinct minority of assholes who take shots of wine and get plastered at 7 pm.

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Considering we had very skewed visions of geography, after gallery night we walked along the Highline, thinking it would lead us back to our dorm on 10th and Broadway. We were wrong.

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And maybe it was a realization I would not be home for a very long time, or maybe it was just the mere sight of the Hudson River, but I straight up let the dam flood. My friend was the only one who noticed the very conspicuous puddle forming underneath me. And I made him promise he would never tell anyone. Thanks Marcelo. Sorry you had to sit next to me in that cab.

2)    Cleaning Up My Own Dried Vomit

The summer between freshman and sophomore year was a trying time. I was working at Forever 21 when I was very much Temporarily 19, still underage and still hating everything. A high school friend had her house to herself the whole weekend so naturally we partied the only way 19 year olds know how – pounding cheap beer someone’s brother’s girlfriend bought.

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Blackouts and throwing up happen all the time. I’m not going to recount every single one of them here… though I probably do it more than most because I’m mentally challenged. But the worst part about this one was hanging out at this girl’s house the next day.

“Hey can I talk to you for a minute?” she pulled me into the bathroom. I was curious… was there drama?? She the proceeded to close the lid of the toilet that was covered in dried vomit that was the pigment of red only regurgitated enchiladas and failed beer pong games could create.

“Can you clean this up?” She handed me a sponge.

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So while I heard everyone in the room next door laughing and watching TV, I was scrubbing down my own mess that I had no recollection of putting there.

I thought, at the time, this is it. This is the low point. This is the wake-up call.

3)    Cutting Open my Head in a Subway Platform

Somewhere in Park Slope, I decided my body was invincible to any kind of  substance. And somewhere along the F train, I slipped (was it water?) and fell backward and hit my head against a subway column. (it’s ok, I’m ok.)

I guess we took an ambulance? But my blackout ended somewhere around 2 am in the hospital. The good news is that I didn’t have a concussion, the bad news is that my BAC level was over 0.1. The thing is, there are low points, and then there are low points. And when you’re still wasted with someone stapling your head in a Bushwick hospital bed while you stare at someone with a gunshot wound in their eye… it’s not as much embarrassment as a total reconsideration of lifestyle.

(Well, not that kind of reconsideration)

But before you think that I need help, remember that I am first and foremost a complete and total asshole. So most of the time in the hospital, I was telling the nurse what great work he was doing, how much an emergency room must suck, how handling stupid people like me must be the worst. We became great friends. When you pee in a bag for someone and they tell you that you can’t leave the hospital until you’re sober, an unbreakable bond is formed.

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So, I drank moderately, enjoyed myself (but not too much) and never embarrassed myself again.

Lol.

4)    Giving a Trader Joe’s Wine Store Cashier My Number

Let’s skip forward to the beginning of this year, at another gallery night, where I obviously have learned nothing in the past 4 years. Except, this time, we can actually buy cheap wine. But instead of calling it a night after we get smashed among the local art, for some reason we end up at Trader Joe’s Wine store purchasing a $10 box of poison they like to call their 3 liters of boxed wine. It’s actually the worst thing you’ll ever drink.

I feel humiliation just looking at the box.

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I’m pretty sure the Trader Joes cashier training system just gives them Xanax and white-people conversation starters. I mean, can you think of any other place you’ve said a sentence longer than “cash back” at checkout? And for some reason, I got it into my head that I was flirting with this cashier. And flirting for me is making fun of someone and them semi-reciprocating (i.e. his nametag said Lindsey and I told him I didn’t believe that was his real name). So I gave him my number.

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And this bit of sadness has been sitting on my phone ever since. Sorry Lindsey.

5)    Puking in the Middle of a Bar

I’m not going to tell you exactly how recent this was, except that it inspired me to write this post. I’m really hoping that after I put all these down and give myself more time to reflect, I realize that I am truly a horrible person and don’t deserve to ever drink again.

And guys, I wasn’t even drunk. It’s just… Superman has Kryptonite, and I have Evan Williams. And Kryptonite doesn’t even automatically make Superman vomit. But after a couple drinks at home, it only seemed logical to have a shot and a beer for $5 at a nearby bar. Immediately upon taking the shot and starting to chug a bud light lime, bad things were happening.

“Where’s the bathroom?”

“uhh”

And then it all just projected out on my arms and shoes.

“Ew!” some girl next to me screamed, very appropriately. Because who the fuck just throws up in the middle of a bar. (I do).

(Basically.)

On my way home, I tore pages out my moleskine journal and wiped the vomit off my arms. (That actually happened. I’m the worst. Stop being my friend.) And then I had forgotten my keys so I had to call my roommates to come home. Because for some reason, I thought they stayed at the bar where I had shamed us all.

But it’s ok because as I was taking a shower, I realized that drunken embarrassment has no more power over me. I have done too many terrible things. I’m actually lucky I’m still alive and still have friends.

But the real moral of the story is really that at least I stopped making this face:

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Do Miley Cyrus and Daft Punk Party Together??

Ok I normally never write about music because I have no idea what I’m talking about. But it just happened that the only two songs I’m listening to right now seem to be ABOUT THE EXACT SAME PARTY.

Listen close! I know you already have, but here they are again:

Right? I mean, no. But maybe!

What is this I’m feeling?

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want

We’ve come too far
To give up who we are
So let’s raise the bar
And our cups to the stars

Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere
Hands in the air like we don’t care
Cause we came to have so much fun now
Got somebody here might get some now

If you’re not ready to go home
Can I get a hell no
Cause we gonna go all night
Till we see the sunlight alright

We’re up all night ’til the sun
We’re up all night to get some
We’re up all night for good fun
We’re up all night to get lucky

So la da di da di, we like to party
Dancing with Molly
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules
And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life

The present has no ribbon
Your gift keeps on giving
What is this I’m feeling?
If you want to leave, I’m wit’ it

It’s our party we can do what we want
It’s our party we can say what we want
It’s our party we can love who we want
We can kiss who we want
We can see who we want

She’s up all night ’til the sun
I’m up all night to get some
She’s up all night for good fun
I’m up all night to get lucky

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
Can’t you see it’s we who own the night
Can’t you see it we who bout’ that life
And we can’t stop
We’re up all night to the sun
And we won’t stop
We’re up all night to get some
We run things
We’re up all night for good fun
Things don’t run we
We’re up all night to get lucky
We don’t take nothing from nobody

Yea, yea-ah.

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Graduation Drinking Game

So we’re done with school and all the bullshit that goes along with it. I know I have feelings about this somewhere, but I’d rather drink them away instead. So at graduation,  let’s raise our flasks together.

NYU Gradrunkation 2013:

Anytime someone says…

“You can do it”

“Look to your left, look to your right”

“It’s not gonna be easy”

“Work hard”

“These were the best years of your lives”

Anytime we’re called New Yorkers

Anytime someone mentions the people we’ve met

Anytime your fellow graduates are referred to as future award winners

Anytime the idea of “commencement” is alluded to (aka “this is only the beginning”)

Anytime someone mentions youth as our greatest asset

Tisch specific: 

Anytime film is glorified more than the other departments

Anytime they pretend like a BFA means anything

“Don’t be afraid to fail”

“Talent finds its way”

Anytime someone refers to our fellow graduates as our “network”

Basically, anytime someone lies to us.

reality bites 2

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57 Reasons Why Iron Man 3 is a Christmas Movie

GOTCHA LIST!  I don’t have that many reasons. However, I AM pretty sure that Iron Man 3 is actually about the true meaning of Christmas. There are some spoilers but just think of it like finding your parents’ stash of presents a couple days before the actual day.

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Fist things first: the tone of Marvel movies always amazes me. They’re basically comedies, but still taking the superhero genre seriously. I used to avoid them because, honestly, sometimes action scenes are similar to musical numbers and I get bored when the plot’s not advancing. There, gay community and bro community, I gave you something to talk about!  Anyway, last year when the Avengers came out I just watched all of them in like two days because THEY’RE SO MUCH FUN. They’re also perfectly structured screenplays and dayum, do I love a good story structure! (I’m sorry, please keep reading) The point is, I will always see a Marvel movie in theaters.

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“here goes another number”

Secondly… Guys, I love Christmas. People think I’m Jewish. And I tell them I’m 1/4th Jewish and 3/4ths Christmas. So, when Iron Man 3 was set during the “most wonderful time of the year,” I flipped out. I kept punching my friend saying “WHY IS THIS A CHRISTMAS MOVIE??” Full disclosure: I was not completely sober. I apologize to the guy who came alone to revel in superhero badassery happening on the screen and had to sit next to a girl stuffing momofuku cookies in her face and talking about Christmas.  He’s probably my soulmate and I blew it. Oh well.

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Shane Black sets a lot of his movies during Christmas. Slate actually wrote an article about the similarities between Iron Man 3 and A Christmas Carol. Black said, “I think it’s a sense of if you’re doing something on an interesting scale that involves an entire universe of characters, one way to unite them is to have them all undergo a common experience. There’s something at Christmas that unites everybody and it already sets a stage within the stage, that wherever you are, you’re experiencing this world together.” It’s an interesting point, and I would consider it lazy writing if it didn’t MAKE SO MUCH SENSE.

(author note: I actually think it’s pretty lazy.)

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What is the true meaning of Christmas, you ask?  According to Wikipedia: “to give up one’s very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas” Okay, so. Let’s unpack this. And try not to think about how selflessness is PROBABLY the theme of every single superhero movie.

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Tony Stark has a material obsession at the beginning of this movie. He’s making like a billion versions of his lil adorable Iron Man suit. Uhh, does that sound familiar to you? HOW ABOUT SANTA’S WORKSHOP?? Stark is basically making TOYS. Granted, they’re all for himself, but he tinkers like nobody’s business.

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And JARVIS (head elf??) continues to enable him, but we accept slavery when there’s magic involved. Also I’m sorry to people who really believe in the science of these movies, but I’m pretty sure all this technology is magic. Movie magic. OR, Christmas magic.

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I’m not saying Tony Stark is Santa Claus, but Pepper Potts puts up with a lot of Tony’s shit. And like, come on. Doesn’t Mrs. Claus deal with the same thing? And I’m sure Santa gives Mrs. Claus random stuff to make up for having a toy obsession, like how Tony gave Pepper a giant bunny rabbit stuffed animal. While writing this, I realized that when Tony asked Pepper if she liked the rabbit, he meant the actual stuffed animal. At the time, I laughed because I thought he was making a vibrator reference. (SIDEBAR: Wouldn’t Tony Stark make the best vibrator?)

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Moving on, the scariest part about the villain in Ironmas is that no one knows exactly what he wants. His name is the Mandarin and he’s Ben Kingsley so everyone’s just confused. But really, as a smart audience member, you realize that THE MANDARIN JUST WANTS TO RUIN CHRISTMAS. Like, there’s no huge destruction of the entire world or humanity or whatever, it’s all about making people have a shitty holiday season.

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Note: holiday season. Remember, not everyone celebrates Christmas. We cannot forget about Jew Favreau (who also, I might add, directed ELF. Coincidence? Most definitely)

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So he’s Pepper’s bodyguard and he sees some shady stuff happening. I can only imagine that Jewish people are extra suspicious of people around Christmas because they’re making up for the rest of us cheery assholes. Jew Favreau (aka Happy Hogan) is the real hero of this movie because he figures out what’s up from the BEGINNING, but then (spoiler) there’s an explosion and he’s in a coma.

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Why did they choose to go a slightly racist route by making the evil dude be a white guy dressed in stereotypical Asian clothes? Because Jewish people go to Chinese restaurants on Christmas day. This is what makes Tony realize his call to duty. Happy is going to miss his Christmas Chinese dinner and Tony Stark needs to avenge him.

So obviously, the stakes are as simple as this: Tony Stark needs to save Christmas.

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And I haven’t even brought up THE KID yet, who is another key character. Like in most Christmas movies, there’s an impressionable child who still believes.

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And this boy has all these (spoiler) weird daddy abandonment issues. But shenanigans happen, Tony’s stuck in this small town, and THE KID is the only one in this town who can help him. And why do we only trust children in this world? Because duh, they really care about saving Christmas. Kids love Christmas more than anyone else.

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HARLEY (ugh these names) gives Tony the best advice of all (spoiler): you’re a mechanic, make something. Tony just cobbles some shit together and it’s a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

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And then Ben Kingsley NAILS IT as the ghost of Christmas present.

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(Thx Slate!)

And Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian shows the FALSE meaning of Christmas. Which is GREED. Because he has this new technology, but it has some glitches. He just wants money! And he wants Pepper because he loves Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. Come on, Aldrich, Christmas is not about THINGS and POWER, it’s about making others HAPPY (HOGAN).

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So in the end (spoiler, but why are you still reading if you care) Tony’s toys save the day BUT he realizes that he doesn’t need them after all – because what he really cares about is to give up on oneself — to only think of others — and how to bring the greatest happiness to others.

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Also the kid gets AN ENTIRE GARAGE of new things from Tony because what’s Christmas without presents. Even a new potato gun, as the next Avenger is obviously POTATO BOY.

And Happy Hogan gets to watch Downton Abbey, so at least Jews have TV. (seriously, Iron Man 3 referenced Downton Abbey and I peed myself)

But the VP’s daughter is still gonna have a stub leg though, ain’t nothing gonna change that.

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(author note #2: I am so, so sorry this exists.)

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7 Reasons Why I’ll Read Any List on the Internet

1. There will most likely be pictures/gifs 

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2. I might identify with something

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3. I won’t have to do any real reading/thinking

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4. Probable amusement  

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 5. Distraction from my life

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6. I can feel like I’m part of a greater inside joke

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7. I know when it’s over 

thankyou

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What’s Kristen Stewart Staring At?

So Kstew showing up to the Oscars in crutches might be the best thing that’s ever happened

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And her boredom made it even better. Seriously, who does she think she is?

So here’s a fun game I like to call “What’s Kristen Stewart Staring At?”

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The ceiling

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A chair

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Some lint

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Inside of her glasses

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The wall

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A fly

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A doorknob

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The pavement

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Some dirt

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A table

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A shoe

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A lamp

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A cloud

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Your soul

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