Be Happy: Friends With Benefits, #NBAChristmas, and Kepler-22b
Today I woke up in an inexplicably good mood, looking forward to the future. I’ll attribute my happiness to a number of things happening in the world that are pretty much indisputably awesome. My list includes (but is in no way limited to) the movie Friends With Benefits, the NBA season starting on Christmas, and the new planet discovered, Kepler-22b.
Friends With Benefits. Have you seen this movie yet? There is so much about Friends With Benefits that should make you happy. It’s the first mainstream comedy I’ve seen that tries realistically to portray what it’s like to have sex in your twenties.
Popular culture has a history of propriety that’s done more to pervert sexuality than protect kids from seeing dicks and boobs. It works like this: movies have mastered the frustrating ploy of implied sexual activity. Two characters enter a room, give each other a look and/or begin taking their clothes off, and suddenly the camera fades and it’s morning (i.e. 500 Days of Summer). You’ve seen nothing, but everything has apparently happened.
We take cues from popular culture in order to construct and make sense of our social life. Inherently, there isn’t anything wrong with this. But it’s a problem when movies adopt the attitude that after a quick eye fuck you’ve suddenly had sex.
So many movies skip essentially everything that’s true about sex; all the—sometimes awkward but a lot of the time immensely enjoyable—aspects of getting to know another person and their body. Consequently, it’s possible that as soon as people get past the stages of sex they see in movies, they’re at a loss, not knowing what constitutes normal behavior, feeling the void the movies left them with.
Friends With Benefits does everybody the favor of revealing sexual activity as it actually is (albiet theatrically), from both male and female perspectives. There’s a scene where Justin Timberlake’s character has to take a break from having sex because he has to pee really bad. He starts peeing, stops, and then starts again several times. Timberlake admits, it’s really hard to piss when your dick is hard! Mila Kunis instructs Timberlake on how to go down on her. Anyway, that kind of stuff happens. It’s awesome that a mainstream movie is exploring the ways we can attractively portray real sexuality rather than distorting it with misleading cinematic stunts.
NBA Christmas. It’s inevitable; a lot of people reach an age where they become sports fans. It happened to me. Get over it, sport is the social fabric of America. The NBA specifically has a rich history (both mainstream and cult) that somehow makes it the perfect sport for the world of digital media. NBA superstars have huge Twitter presences and NBA hashtags are constantly trending. The big personalities and intense drama in the NBA offer irresistible material for writers. The best essays Grantland have published are the ones on the 2011 NBA Finals. And of course, the best essays written about sports in general belong to the writers of the late Free Darko basketball blog.
I don’t know all the reasons why, but basketball resonates with writers. This is good, because it gives them great opportunities to write and be read moving forward into the new season. #NBACHRISTMAS, BITCHES! GO KNICKS!
Kepler-22b. I’ll admit I’m suspicious. Everything I’ve read about this guy—and there’s not much—is strangely reminiscent of that indie movie Another Earth. Which by the way, is way too depressing (Note to filmmakers: unless you’re a credible director with a solid reputation, do not begin your movie with a teenage girl driving drunk and killing an entire family. Congratulations! You’ve officially surpassed The Road in morbidity for no-purpose-I’ll-stick-around-to-find-out-about).
But, okay. I’m suspending judgment. A new planet that might be able to support life? That’s awesome! Maybe when the Mayans ended their calendar in 2012 they meant: “This is when everything stops sucking. We find a new Leonardo Da Vinci painting of Christ…and a new planet!”
Is it so insane to believe that things might be actually getting better? Maybe we’re slowly evolving as a human species and a society. Maybe pop culture doesn’t need to be torn down because it’s an evil commodity, a brainwashing product of the capitalist machine, but actually an attempt by good people to create entertainment that other good people will enjoy. Maybe no NBA lockout will ever last because everybody genuinely likes physical excellence: humans in competition with their bodies, pushing farther, going harder to unknown spectacular limits.
Probably not. But I can say this with certainty: Kepler-22b, if nothing else, is a figurehead for the potentiality of human imagination. The idea of hospitable life elsewhere in the universe makes me believe in the potential of human life here. Blake says, “What is now proved was once, only imagin’d.” I like that idea.
This is a random list that I ran with solely because these were the things I was thinking about this morning. But it covers a lot. I could have also picked the iPad. How awesome are iPads, right? Think about it. Maybe technology is just a really good thing. No catches, no brain tumors. Just human advancement. Go!
Follow Kyle Kouri on Twitter @KyleKouri
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