Do you know any writers? Do you absolutely hate those people?
I ask because of a film I recently watched called Stuck In Love, a film which essentially posits that all writers are dark, moody substance abusers, and way smarter than you’ll ever be. Or, more generally, the kind of people nobody likes.
The brief rundown: a family of writers struggles with the ups and downs of being in love. There’s Bill Borgens, played by Greg Kinnear, a brilliant writer who hasn’t written anything since his wife Erica, Jennifer Connelly, left him (unsurprising). And then there’s his daughter Sam, played by Lily Collins, whose only two topics of conversation are death and herself. And then his son Rusty, played by Nat Wolff, whose most notable traits are loving Stephen King, wearing hoodies, and being sad all the time.
This movie could’ve been interesting. Instead, you just end up hating everyone.
Why? Because every character is cynical, moody, and generally unlikeable. No one talks about anything that real people would talk about. Instead, it’s all this philosophical esoterica that’s just meant to make the audience nod their heads and say, “Wow. These characters are so brilliant.” Or to just make us all feel dumb.
Sam, for example, has her first novel published at the age of nineteen. Okay, not completely impossible, but neither the actress nor the script convinced me to suspend my disbelief.
Also, Bill’s solution to missing his wife is to spy on her through the window whenever he happens to pass by (which is about thirty times, give or take). How is that a logical solution to the problem? Oh right, they’re writers. They’re too brilliant for us mortals to understand.
And whenever Rusty gets depressed about anything (which is all the time—the kid’s such a moper), his dad loudly asserts, “You’re a writer.” As if he should expect to be mopey all the time, like an occupational hazard. As if you can’t be a writer unless you’re unhappy.
The worst part about a movie like this, for me, is that it separates writers from normal people. The folks behind this movie seem to think that writers are, as a rule, douchebags. Yet I know a lot of writers, and the majority of them are perfectly pleasant, normal people. They aren’t misunderstood masterminds, they don’t talk about existentialism every second. Most writers I know are just people.
And I’m not just talking about my friends, here. David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, happens to have a stammer when he talks. Virginia Woolfe was so good at cricket that her family began to call her, “The Demon Bowler.” Also, Stephen King’s favorite band is the decidedly unartistic AC/DC. They’re great writers, sure, but when you look past the work, you find normal people.
I’m not sure I can say anything more about this movie without puking, so let me just say this: give writers a chance. We’re not all annoying assholes. Most are pretty cool people.