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Lost in idiocy
I made good on invitations to two parties tonight, and was pretty rapidly reminded why I don’t like the mainstream college life. Much of the conversation at the first soiree centered on the hosts’ device that funnelled beer directly from a closed fridge to a spigot on the door. The second party, which spanned three floors, was full of people idly dancing, talking about hooking up, or slamming liquor. On the way home I stopped at the corner shop to buy some water, and a clutch of Sig Ep guys walked in and sighted another bunch of fratboys.

“Nick!” one of them said. He slapped one guy a high five and eyed his purchases. “What are you up to? Up to no good?” And then they kind of laughed uproariously.

The point of all this is that, when I came home, I flipped on Fox News to see an interview with the webmaster of “Lost in Racism.” Part of the shoestring “Asian Media Watch” project, the site is devoted to reviews and slams of Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation” – chiefly the claim that the movie makes fun of Japanese culture for laughs.

I don’t claim to have the inside track on Coppola’s brain, like these people. But there are cheap jokes throughout the movie, and the targets are always boring or callow. The film’s most despicable character is Kelly (Anna Faris), an American actress who honestly cannot stop talking about herself, her diets, what she likes. At one point, Charlotte is stuck having drinks with her husband, Kelly, and an American starfucker who prattles on about his DJ career. These people get on her nerves because they’re sheltered and dull. Likewise, Bob (Bill Murray) is subtly irritated and bemused (at different points) by Charlotte’s Japanese friends. They’re wrapped up in their own habits and pick fights with bar managers. Charlotte and Bob both are smug and disdaining of professional Japanese – TV hosts, glad-handlers. The reasons are pretty apparent if you actually pay attention to the movie. They are completely listless and unsure of what they want, and encountering people heavily invested in banal things gets on their nerves.

I feel this way most of the time, never more so then on weekends. “Lost in Translation” didn’t exactly cause a breakthrough in my self-understanding – it reflected what I knew was true. If you’re driven and unhappy, you’ll find something irritating in people who are content to be banal. They’re everywhere, and you have nothing to say to them.

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