Monday, September 5, 2011

Teenage Wasteland: Empire Records

In keeping with my reminiscing about my late teens/early 20's, I took a personal day and watched Empire Records.  I was 19 when I saw this movie, a full five years after it came out, but I watched it in Oklahoma, the first summer I was out there after Martin, who I saw every time I was out there, dumped me to marry someone else, and only shortly after Dan, who looked exactly like Lucas, (black sweater and all) broke my heart. 

When I wasn't holed up in my room watching movies rented from Blockbuster and listening the Smiths on my discman, I was sulking around in my Doc Martens and getting told by my now-ex-stepfather that I was an embarassment to our family.And having worked in a chain music store (and a chain video store), I could only have dreamed of getting to pick whatever I wanted to listen to instead of having to listen to Crutch eight hours a day.  I liked to imagine I could live a life where I worked part time at a cool place and had an apartment with a plaid couch and got to wear awesome clothes and play records.  Empire Records was pretty much pornography for me.

I kept Empire Records around in later years as a guilty pleasure because, frankly, it's not that good of a movie.  It breaks the 4th wall in weird places, it's so carefully plotted and intricatly designed to appeal to a generic "teen" audience with fake edginess, pseduo-deep problems (Gina is a slut who hates herself, Cory is a secret speed addict to keep up her perfect appearence, AJ wants to go to art school but is too scared, one girl tries to kill herself) and radio-friendly soundtrack packaged to showcase the hottest new bands (Cracker, Better than Ezra, the Cranberries and the Gin Blossoms). 
I watched it today because I needed some cheering up.  And despite all of it's awful, it did the trick.    I like movies with 90's pop music, guys in black turtlenecks, combat boots with plaid skirts and Renee Zellwegger.  I'm difficult to pander to, but it's nice that someone made the effort.

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