April 20, 2011 § 6 Comments
From time to time I like to explore the portrayal of writers in fiction and film. Previously in this blog series, we’ve looked at Karen Eiffel of Stranger than Fiction and Richard Castle of the murder mystery TV series Castle. The character we are visiting today has a small role in a highschool movie …
WAIT don’t go. This is a teen movie that is not entirely putrid. I admit that there is a prom involved. (If we are to believe film culture, it seems like American highschool kids do nothing but attend proms). However it has nothing whatsoever to do with transforming the ugly duckling into the swan so that she is allowed to kiss Freddie Prinze Jnr. On the contrary, the plot is based on The Taming of the Shrew, and moreover it manages to be pretty consistently funny.
The film is 10 Things I Hate About You, and the character in question is played by the marvellous Alison Janney. Good huh? Her name is Ms. Perky and she is a Guidance Counselor (see what I did there? I spelled it the American way. Oh yes. Doing well).
Ms. Perky is not a very good Guidance Counselor (!) because she is very, very busy writing an erotic novel. Here is a clip of her first appearance.
How many writers do this? Work on the novel at the office, I mean, not… the rest. Necessarily. (Anybody want to own up to any of Ms. Perky’s more original characteristics?) I imagine most of us are a bit more surreptitious about it than Ms. Perky. It’d be fun to get away with tossing everyone out of the office so you can have more quality time with the novel.
And it would be so amusing to be able to get away with that degree of blunt talking. There are definitely times when I want to be able to say you are a fatuous moron without creating a miniature world war three.
Instead I just admire pink-clad, straight-talking, erotica-writing fake guidance counselors from a distance. If I can’t be Karen Eiffel when I grow up, maybe I’ll settle for turning into Ms. Perky.
January 18, 2011 § 10 Comments
There are certain stereotypes floating around about writers. A crowd of eccentrics, that’s what we are. Loners. Mad beasts closeted all day and all night with our pens and our paper (or more likely our laptops), haggard from lack of sleep, feverishly forcing word after tortured word onto the page. Eyes alight with the maniacal obsession that drives us.
True or not? There’s some truth in there, probably, though in all likelihood most of us aren’t so… unhinged. The above portrait of a writer is hugely exaggerated, right?
That’s almost a shame, however, because by far my favourite portrait of a writer in film or fiction is Emma Thompson’s character Karen Eiffel in ‘Stranger than Fiction.’ Completely tortured, eccentric to the point of outright derangement, and wittily acerbic. Her idea of researching a novel is sitting by the motorway in the pouring rain, imagining car crashes.
Penny the publisher’s assistant: Sitting in the rain won’t write books.
Karen Eiffel: Well that illustrates exactly how much you know about writing books.
When I grow up, I want to be her.
Everyone thinks about jumping off a building.
(The film script can be found here).
Does any of this sound familiar?