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Inhabiting Oz

By Shelley Blake

“It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem real when you viddy them on the screen.” Alex Delarge, A Clockwork Orange

I am not in love with John Cusack. Yes, I am a single, thirty-one year old woman with a large black and white poster of Mr. Cusack centrally located on my bedroom wall. My sister believes this to be the reason why I am thirty-one and still single.

“Male inadequacies…the fear of potential mates to measure up to what they believe I see as the ideal of perfection?” I inquire of her.

“C’mon! Crushes on movie stars…what are you, twelve?” she replies.

When I was twelve, and all throughout my teen years, I had posters of Sean Astin of The Goonies and Ralph Macchio, the original Karate Kid, posing seductively for the camera. My walls were covered with Teen Beat centerfolds of Henry Thomas, best friend of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial. However, I did not have mere crushes on Sean Astin, Ralph Macchio or Henry Thomas. And to repeat once more, I am not in love with John Cusack. Although I am an enormous admirer of Mr. Cusack’s acting abilities, I hope to God I never meet him. Meeting John Cusack would force me to admit that Lloyd Dobler, his character in Say Anything, the man in the black and white poster on my wall holding a boom box high above his head in an attempt to win back the girl he loves, does not exist. I am not in love with John Cusack; I’m in love with Lloyd.

The silver screen has spoiled and corrupted me. I believe there are chivalric, tenderhearted men like Lloyd out there who want nothing from life but to kick box and win the beautiful brainiac Diane (whose monster I.Q. is seen as a virtue and does not intimidate the goofy but loveable Lloyd). I believe in happily ever after, or at least I want to believe. Click my ruby slippers three times and be magically transported to the land of Celluloid. Dorothy, you stupid girl. You so had it made. Why on earth would you want to go home to boring ol’ Kansas when you had the Emerald City in your grasp? I have one thing to say to you: Technicolor! Technicolor! Technicolor! Oh my!

Even the teens who were mysteriously sucked into the fictional “Leave it to Beaver”-esque television show in Pleasantville knew the value of a multihued landscape. The character played by Reese Witherspoon wanted to stay in Pleasantville. Unlike Dorothy, this chick knew that boring old thing called reality had nothing on the possibilities of starting over in the land of make believe. Yet, she too, I firmly believe, made a mistake. She chose the unimaginative world of situational television.

TV sucks. It really does. Unless, of course, you have cable and get all the movie channels. I love going to the big screen, Dolby surround-sound theaters as much as anyone. Probably more. A good movie is the alcohol of my addiction, and a theater the high priced bottle. But an alcoholic doesn’t quibble over a bottle of Heineken to a can of Pabst, so long as it gets the job done. Ahh, cable television. It hits the spot. As my Cable Guy, Chip Douglas, says, “ The possibilities are endless!” HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Bravo, ShoWest, IFC, AMC, and In Demand. I never have to leave home. Really. Get this…the movies come to ME. Anything I want to see, any world I want to inhabit is mine for the taking. Reality, that Wicked Witch, is snuffed out of the picture as I think, “there is no place like the movies, there is no place like the movies.” Fuck ruby slippers. I have a remote control.

Down the yellow-brick road and into the land of Tarantino

I’m dancing to Chuck Berry at Jack Rabbit Slim's with Vincent Vega—oh please let your aim be true with that hypodermic when this OD’ing bitch is lying on your dealer’s carpet in dire need of a shot of adrenaline. Jules, you badass, Jeri-curled mofo. How I love to watch you preach the gospels to the unrighteous before your hit man trigger finger rips them to shreds. A mysterious briefcase and the (literal) passing of an heirloom watch; I want to hear more of your Pulp Fiction.

Listen Floyd, I’ll get you beer and some cleaning products if you let me hit that bong and hit it hard. I’d fuck Elvis, Clarence. Please take me to a Sonny Chiba triple feature. Let’s get pie and find True Romance. Hey Tony Soprano, who’s the big mob boss now when a call girl in white polka-dotted spandex pants can kick the shit out of you with a corkscrew, hairspray and a toilet bowl cover? Alabama, you rock.

…Through the City of the Surreal...

A pit stop to the 7 ½ floor, the portal of John Malkovich’s brain. Being John Malkovich, I’m already in disguise and can save mankind from the army of the 12 Monkeys, who as it turns out, were never a threat. I stumble into a dimly lit bar asking where the action is. Immediately I am whisked to the basement where throngs of young men from various social classes, battered and bloody, listen to the leader of their “club.” First rule in Fight Club, steal heavily from Edgar Allan Poe. Second rule, nothing is as it appears to be. Just ask the boys from Trainspotting, or David Lynch.

…Arriving in the land of Happily Ever After

Hey Kong, how about a lift to the top of the Empire State Building, I have a date with Cary Grant...An Affair to Remember. Or maybe a widowed man who is Sleepless in Seattle is awaiting me there. Neither physical handicap nor fear of taking a risk can stand in the way of destiny.

Wesley, dear, fetch me water, as I wish, and engage in your battle of wits or play pirate to your hearts content. You just better make damn sure when Miracle Max asks you what’s worth living for, your dying breath speaks of “true love.” This Princess Bride needs some saving.

Charlie Mackenzie, won’t you write me a poem and keep the candle burning? All my husbands have mysteriously left me, and although you might think, “So, I Married an Axe Murderer,” I did not kill those men. With a little help from my homicidal sister, I will help you overcome your fear of monogamy.

I too will have what Sally Albright is having, but man, Harry, you better pick up the pace. Twelve years is a little too long for any woman to wait.

I’m Diane in the back seat of that old Chevy making love to a visibly shaken Lloyd Dobler while Peter Gabriel warbles on about the light in my eyes. At least until the credits roll and the gig is up.

Where is Han Solo to whisk me off to a galaxy far, far away? Did the Millennium Falcon run out of gas? Teach me about the Force, Obi-Wan. My life needs a jump-start.

Will you write me an Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman? Look what you did with a boring story about orchids…surely you can spice up my humdrum existence. Daphne, that cross-dressing musician on the lamb, will no doubt concur that Some Like it Hot.

Yoo hoo, Taxi Driver…yeah, I’m talking to you. How about speeding me out of here? And if you need to vent your rage, take it out on Bogart’s Rick. The last thing I need in this monotonous reality is for Sam to play it again. End of story, fade to black. Cue new adventure.

I’m not in love with John Cusack, and in reality, I’m not in love with Lloyd…at the moment. Right now, Gilbert Grape holds my attention. In 90 minutes he too will be replaced by another oddly beautiful soul in the midst of something fresh or fantastic.

Auntie Em’, don’t you see, it wasn’t just a dream. I never closed my eyes. There was no tornado. I was embraced in the eye of the whirlwinds of fantasy! So get your Kansas-loving black and white ass out of my room and let me return to Oz.

Read Sherry Fairchok's essay "Leif! Shirtless!: The Teen Idol Planes of Enlightenment"

Check out Ape Culture's Teen Crush Haikus

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