I never pictured myself watching a red headed stranger impersonate me on YouTube. But, I guess that's the nature of the beast when you have an aspiring filmmaker in your closet of exes. Everything you ever said or did becomes material.
There she is sitting across from my ex-boyfriend on an imaginary date, at some set-designed diner. They're in the middle of an argument in which neither will back down. The situation mirrors many moments in which we sat staring at each other, waiting impatiently for the food to come and provide a cease fire. The fight they're having is some rendition of the following:
"Look, all I am saying is that we should legalize it all like, heroin, cocaine, weed, and then administer it in clinics. It'd end all the violence and make money for the state. It'd end all that human suffering."
"You can't just legalize all drugs. Like fuck, people are supposed to suffer. It's like a population strategy. The only way we could have evolved into humans is by having some struggle and die and others persevere and survive. That's human nature."
We were in a relationship comprised of endless competitions. Every conversation, sentence, trip to Chipotle, offered a new opportunity to possibly win. It didn't matter if we made sense, or cared about the argument as long as we didn't back down.
I'm still not sure what we were competing for… no clue what the grand prize was. But hidden in the undercurrents of our fights were screams of, "Let me go. I surrender." In some twisted way we were fighting for our freedom. We wanted a chance to grow up without the other, to figure out who we were without the ball and chain holding us down.
At :53 seconds W asks this fake me, D, to check out the menu. One look and the viewer gets a list of everything she can't eat, a stereotypical portrayal of a woman's struggle with food -- as if there wasn't enough of that already.
"Well there's not much I can eat here, everything is made of oil, salt, butter, corn, soy, dairy, vegetable substitutes, sugar, carbs, fats, lipids, transfats, God there is so much on here that I can't eat."
While she lists the ingredients of every item on the menu her voice fades out and his internal monologue begins. My mom pointed out that this is paying homage to Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" (not that I know enough about movies to tell if that's true).
"Women, ignorance really is bliss I guess? I don't even care if she's fat. It's on the inside that counts."
Back to reality he screams:
"Diane cut the chit-chat if you don't want to eat, fine! Starve!"
Like many girls I struggled with my weight in high school. I was never heavy, but when I looked in the mirror all I wanted to see was Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Mila Kunis, so when it was just me reflected back I really wasn't OK.
As a means of coping, I went on a lot of diets. My friends still joke about how I'd go on a different diet every Monday and end Friday. It's a stressful habit that I continue to struggle with. But, at the end of the day it's my struggle. It isn't his neurosis to expose. If I want to talk about it I will, to an audience of my own choosing. This movie breaches the confidence that came with being partners: I don't tell your secrets, you don't tell mine (EVER!).
At 3:52 I am livid, much like D in the movie. Woohooo! I'm fuming. Someone needs to pick up her phone and calm me down because it's setting in that my life is literally a manifestation board for his creativity. One day I could turn on the TV and BAM!, our entire four-year relationship would be consolidated into a full length feature, broadcast into every cable viewing residence across America.
I'm a big fan of his work even though he's probably unaware of my being "a view" tallied in the anonymous count by YouTube/Vimeo. My fingers are crossed for his future Emmy mainly to see if he credits me in his acceptance speech for the inspiration I have provided toward his success.
That said, I would prefer being written out of his speech to being exploited on YouTube. I didn't agree to be portrayed as this crazy, ditzy chick who leaves viewers wondering why she didn't break up with the douche ASAP.
Our relationship was complicated and we lived through some major milestones together. His movies fail to capture the intensity and depth of this bond that I thought we shared. It saddens me to see how he perceived me during those four years. And it irks me to know that the layers of my character are being dissected and studied by his film class. The only person I ever OK'ed to analyze my psyche was my therapist. I want my privacy back.
The scene continues:
She screams while crying.
"And yet you still love me."
She's still crying while she whimpers.
"I love you."
He's still chuckling.
"Maybe this is what true love is all about."
She sniffles and begs to get an answer from the question that plagued me most of our relationship.
"Do you love me?"
He satirically answers in a sadistic tone.
"Well love is a crazy thing you can't control it. We're brought into this world alone and we leave it dead. Love it's uncontrollable, K?
And then the credits roll. Written by my ex.
I quickly send the video to my friends. I needed to confirm this wasn't just me being paranoid. "Yup its you. Undeniably," they typed.
I called my mom for reassurance that he wasn't a better writer than I am.
"You know some parts worked, but I am not sure if he wrote all that. There may have been some improv. He's not a writer…"
He wasn't a writer when we broke up. In fact, he hated writing after a lifetime spent struggling with a learning disability. But everything I had ever pursued he'd gone after. For a while I thought I wanted to go into photojournalism but stopped when it became a competition between us. I went to acting school for a bit but hated that life. I told him this and he quickly started going on auditions.
Here he is trying to beat me at my dream of writing and we've been broken up for a year! The movie symbolizes that the game is still on. He's in the lead.
I've done a lot of growing since the break-up. I can take care of myself in ways I never envisioned. I'm OK with being alone. I've handed in my boxing gloves. I'm starting to find my inner peace.
But, it still hurts to see my vulnerable younger self -- the one who was madly in love with this boy -- mocked for everything that plagued her. I love my younger self for all her awkwardness, sadness, and insecurities, and I wouldn't be me without that part of my life. But, it's hard to see such a dark time of my life exaggerated and displayed publicly by someone I really trusted. I would never tell him to stop because it's his craft and he should be free to express himself. I just figured he would have respected my boundaries.
Some of my friends say I should be flattered, at least I know he hasn't forgotten me. They may be right. Yet, these movies show how little he ever really knew me. His perceptions blinded him from seeing the totality of who I was. That character isn't me.