Wondering about 'Anything'

I do not think Say Anything is a bad movie. However, I've always thought it's a slightly better than average romantic comedy given the involvement of the writer/director (Cameron Crowe) and the main actors (John Cusack, Ione Skye and John Mahoney). Yet this movie tends to tug on the hearts of a lot of people my age. Not to ask in a heated way, but why?

So far, I've heard the line, "I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen," used a few times, but the one scene that everyone points to is the one with Lloyd Dobler (played by John Cusack) standing outside of Diane Court's (Ione Skye) bedroom playing Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" on a boombox. I have nothing against the song itself (a great love song with a world beat feel) or how the scene plays out (the looks on Cusack's and Skye's faces say a great deal), but I've never understood why people think that act is romantic, sweet or whatever cutesy word they want to attach to it. Everyone has their own interpretation of this, but I'm curious why this scene is so appealing. Maybe Dobler is showing how strong he cares for Court by playing her favorite song so loud and clear that a lot of other people can hear it. Maybe the volume of the song is related to the volume of love he has for her. Maybe the act is an extent we wish we could be towards someone, but rarely express. I'm really not sure and I'm not about to accept the "you just have to understand this when you're in love" excuse.

For people born in the late-'70s, Say Anything has been an all-time favorite movie of their's. Though it was made in the late-'80s, the film has aged very well. Other than the "Kickboxing. Sport of the future" line, the cars used, the boombox and John Mahoney's hair, very little about this movie has changed. The vulnerability of the male's feelings towards the female seems very much in tune with how a lot of people (both males and females) are aware of them these days. This vulnerability is also something the mainstream version of emo is all about.

Max Bemis, the talented multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter, goes under the band moniker of Say Anything. Bemis makes some really impressive music that pools a lot of different influences into a sound that has attracted the mall emo crowd. Bemis deserves attention (mall emo or not) because he writes good stuff and in relation to Say Anything the movie, there is only a similarity of title. But then there is a rancid song called "Niki FM" by Hawthorne Heights which pays homage to Say Anything's pivotal scene. "I know I'm outside of your window with my radio" as the chorus goes. The guys in HH are my age yet they're writing songs that appeal strictly to the teenager crowd that's just now experiencing mushy puppy love. I'm not a teenager and I do not have those teen angsty feelings anymore. I'm positive that all these young people listening to Hawthorne Heights now will grow up and realize there's more to life than teen angst. Don't bother telling them now: they'll understand in their own ways and make light of listening to bands like this in due time.

Since a facet of emo is to focus on the guy's (usually) hurt and torn feelings because of girls, I feel like this is an unbalanced look at love. Women have feelings too, even in the broken heart department. Yes, that is a huge "duh" with a lot of people, but the way that emo is portrayed to the high school crowd, it seems like women are the perpetrators and men are the victims. How this got to be this way is something to be discussed at another time, but this notion seems to be tied in with Say Anything along with a bunch of other stuff.

Well, if I remember correctly, Say Anything isn't just about Lloyd Dobler's journey in getting a girl. You see both sides of the attraction, including the vulnerability. That vulnerability is played out in a non-mushy way and there is a happy ending. Maybe a male's vulnerability toward love is thought of as a rarity in film, but I argue that it's in a lot of movies (ie, Swingers). Heroes, reluctant and otherwise, can be sensitive while also saving the day you know.


Anonymous said…
i swear, you have bugged my home and are listening to my conversations...

when my friend was in town, during a very confusing "discussion" in which we were trying to make sense out of why people (in particular guys) have an inability to deal with their feelings much less express them when it comes to "relationships", i brought up this exact movie. i think the reason people like this movie so much, be it boy or girl, is that lloyd dobler doesn't listen to the doubt in his head that everyone in the world falls victim to. whether they end up happily ever after or not, the fact of the matter is the boy actually does something even though he has no reason to believe it could possibly work. girls want a guy who's not afraid to just say it or do it, and guys wish they had the guts to do it themselves. not to sound all sweet and sappy or anything, but people are just suckers for stuff like this.

and it has a pretty good soundtrack.
Anonymous said…
I totally agree with Jen on this.

And Say Anything is one of my favorite movies.

I also wanted to comment on this thing you said about emo:
"Since a facet of emo is to focus on the guy's (usually) hurt and torn feelings because of girls, I feel like this is an unbalanced look at love. ... the way that emo is portrayed to the high school crowd, it seems like women are the perpetrators and men are the victims."

Maybe this is because mostly guys are making the emo music...
Josh said…
Say Anything is one of my favorite movies from my childhood, and along with Ferris Bueller I think Lloyd Dobbler is one of the best characters from the 80s - you can keep the Breakfast Club and the Brat Pack.

Without digging up my video copy as a reference, I think "In Your Eyes" was the song playing in the car when they stayed out late and had sex for the first time. If I'm right then I think the boombox scene is obviously romantic - but besides that it's iconic and sort of an ultimate 80's moment.

And that's the #1 drawback of my iPod (that and DRM). I miss boomboxes.