[Memoir Chapter] Why Do I Like Jesse Eisenberg?

Geesh, that title sounds like it’s more common to unlike him. That is probably not the case, speaking from personal experience most people don’t even know who he is by name when I mention him. I have to list characters in movies he’s portrayed, and sometimes (more often than I’d like to admit) I have to correct them when they confuse him for Michael Cera. Which brings up a valid question: If most people I’ve talked to about Jesse Eisenberg can’t tell him and Michael Cera apart, why do I find that comparison an annoyance and why do I have little to no interest in Michael Cera’s endeavours?

My boyfriend says he knows why I like him. He also relentlessly harasses me for my intrigue into him, which I don’t think peaks his jealousy as much as his confusion as to why it’s Jesse Eisenberg. At dinner the other night, upon realizing that Jesse has written plays and has a new book coming out this week and I was very excited to check them out, my boyfriend said some smart-ass quip and I was quick to point a finger at him from across the table and boldly state (without so much of a raised voice, but a very deep stare) that Jesse was now considered holy terrain in our relationship and he was now required to “back off” of teasing me about him. Not because I feel like Jesse would be offended or anything, but because I was thoroughly annoyed with people, especially someone I love dearly and respect, not seeing what I see. My boyfriend says I like Jesse because he plays characters I relate to, and that his nervous qualities reflect my own traits of anxiety. This is what triggered my post. Is that why I like Jesse? Because I narcissistically see myself in him?

Granted, there’s not much comparison between us. If you out the two of us together and had our resumes out, I assure you it would take a good few minutes to find one thing you could see in common. I don’t dream of a world where I marry him. I don’t even know the guy. I met him once during a promotional event in San Francisco where he and Aziz Ansari served us pizza. I took a photo with him and I think I nervously held his hand, which is kind of embarrassing as I’m sure no person wants to hold hands with some blue-haired girl they just met as part of their media tour. Anyway, I never met him again after that, so I don’t really have much of an opinion of him other than movies I’ve seen. I don’t really pay attention to his interviews. I did see what he said about San Diego Comic Con and how turned off by it he was. As a frequent attendee of the event, I know exactly what he’s talking about. My friend Skylar titled SDCC “Self-Entitled and Privileged Con” after his first visit this year, and I can’t say he’s wrong to describe it that way.

Honestly, I think the reason I like Jesse is because I enjoy watching him. I enjoy his facial expressions, his voice, his acting. He seems like a normal guy that has stories to tell. Stories that I’m interested in hearing. Maybe that is because I see myself in parts of him, because often I’ve found that the things that interest us can sometimes be a sort of mirror into ourselves. I’m a nervous mumbler and a fast talker that tilts my head and purses my lips in confusion or in contemplative moments. I guess that’s the one thing we have in common. Oh, and I also think you have to be crazy to be comfortable at SDCC.

[Movies] Maleficent – Spoilers to the Max.

So let’s talk Maleficent. As previously warned, I’m going to spoil everything for you if you haven’t already seen it.

Photo: Frank Connor/Disney
Photo: Frank Connor/Disney

Before I get into the meat of this rant, I want to say that the costume design for Maleficent deserves prestigious awards, as well as the team that did the character designs and final renderings of Diavil’s many animal transformations: Kudos to always having the raven element to every form.

The main complaint I’ve heard plastered all over my Facebook wall is that she wasn’t pure evil as she was portrayed in the 1954 animated original. Can I say this with the utmost respect?: UHDUH. You really thought Disney was going to make a terrifying movie about the darkest and most sinister of concepts: An unrelentless evil sociopath? Disney would never make that movie. Hell, Tim Burton wouldn’t even make that movie! Whoever did those twisted Saw movies, yeah that guy might do it. The sicko behind The Human Centipede might as well. Is that what you want? Maleficent to just be satan incarnate? I think she deserves a little more than the two dimensions of evil bitch and maniac. In the animated feature, she wasn’t the main character, so the reasons behind her being evil weren’t necessary: We were just expected to understand that she was. And why not? She wasn’t the title character! So here we are, offered a movie to gain insight to her complex past, and we want more. What is that? The lady was drugged, her wings were taken from her by a man she trusted and loved, and we’re not happy that she manages to overcome this? We want her to be tortured forever? REALLY?! How anti-fem is that?!

In the film, we learn that her rage and vengeance was entirely against King Stefan, and baby Aurora was just the vessel to unleash that fury. As young annoying tweens (seriously, I could not wait for that little back-story bit to just be over: It was just so awful. You want me to believe that orphaned Maleficent was not affected by the fact that she was the only human-sized fairy in the land? She’s just bubbly and happy, throwing mud at weird goblin-like frogs? Seriously? Missed character development there, Disney. And seriously, you might have won more people over if you showed how deep her scars ran before some evil man ruined her.) they meet and become friends, then at 16 he offers her a kiss of True Love which obviously doesn’t pan out. Stefan badly wants to become King, and the easiest way to do so is to slay Maleficent, the most powerful being in the realm. Here we go, this is what I want: A man threatened by a powerful woman. BAM. YES. Because that is something that women can relate to! The whole kingdom is in a frenzy because there is a woman, a strong force, they cannot control. This is where you got my interest.

Stefan, being the human embodiment of greed and grossness, goes to “warn her”, which really means to woo her until she feels safe, then he drugs her and rips her wings from her lifeless, drugged body. That is pretty heavy, and for me, it kinda made my stomach twitch. When she awakes, she is in the worst sort of shame/pain/helplessness emotional spiral, shown through tears and heart-aching screams. We’ve just seen Maleficent robbed of her innocence, as represented by her wings. A man came in, took what he wanted, and left her there to deal with the aftermath, alone and broken. Whoa, Disney. Thanks for going there, because this shit happens. The first instinct is of course, vengeance. She will never get back what was taken from her, so she has to take the same measure from him to feel like justice was served. Let’s curse his daughter! Because not only did he take her wings, he then married another woman and got exactly what he always wanted: A happy ending in his stupid effing castle. Hells to the nah – He’s gonna pay.

So obviously the curse happens, and the dumb fairies (loved them in the original, but they are entirely a waste of CG money in this) take Aurora to a cottage to raise, where we learn Maleficent watches her. Long story short, she learns to love again by watching the innocent Aurora grow up into a beautiful and competent young maiden (honestly, she bored me, but I’m not going to judge Maleficent’s taste). She tries to reverse the curse, learning that she took out her anger on the wrong person. But it’s too late. The point is that Aurora is like therapy to Maleficent: She eases her broken heart, she gives her hope, and she is able to see through her own personal darkness by reveling in the light of Aurora’s presence (how’s that for sappy?).

Ultimately (I’m not going to spoil everything), Maleficent redeems herself, and HER CURSE is broken. Technically, Stefan’s curse. She overcomes that trauma he bestowed upon her and decides to move past that dark moment of her life that she’s been brooding over for 16 years. What does this teach little girls? That bad things can happen to you. That there are mean people that can hurt you. BUT despite the pain and the unfairness of it all, you will be loved and you can overcome it. You don’t need to be a victim, you can come out on top. And yet, this awesome gem of hope in a tragically dark time means nothing because Maleficent wasn’t evil enough. Nope. I’m not swayed. I thought it was a great movie and I’m glad someone had the balls to get it made.

/rant