Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Why I Detest Greenberg (For Now)

There’s a moment in the new indie film Greenberg when Ben Stiller is drunk and coked out and leaving voicemails for a young girl he’s pseudo-dating. I imagine that the writer/director, Noah Baumbach, wanted the moment to feel like a sort of epiphany, a moment when we, as the audience members, finally see the narrator in all of his flaws and vulnerability and love him the more for it.

Funny thing is, it was the exact moment when I accepted the fact that I absolutely detested this character.

Self-absorbed? Check. Pompous? Most definitely. Seeking connection, yet unable to open himself to others? This character is all of the above.

In a rare display of affection, Stiller’s character escorts his girlfriend to the hospital to receive an abortion. “You’re valued,” he quips to her as she’s being wheeled away for the difficult procedure. Her response?

“I know that.”

Her annoyance with Stillberg is perfect (I just caught this typo when I was editing, but the hybridity of actor and character pleases me). The actress, Greta Gerwig, nails the exasperation of her character with Greenberg; his psycho-babbling validation falls on deaf ears. And it’s Gerwig, the actress, who steals the scene: she has a sad, lost face throughout this film that is impossible not to watch. The simple act of falling into a papasan chair captures her understanding of this young person trying to establish a relationship with Stiller’s undeserving character.

Though I saw the film last night, I’m still meditating on my simple annoyance with Greenberg. Sure, the screenwriter wanted the character of Greenberg to be salty, but I lack empathy. I’m still impatient with him. Who wants to spend two hours with a self-absorbed, self-pitying, unlikable nit? It’s like having dinner with someone who really, really likes to talk about themselves and never pauses to ask you a question about your life. This happens in the film, in fact, as Stiller’s character prattles on about his brother’s dog’s health problems while Jennifer Jason Leigh’s mother is actually dying. He is so self-absorbed he railroads her concern for his own.

Is there anything wrong with this type of behavior? Maybe I’m being too critical, and Noah Baumbach has captured a zeitgeist. We do live in a “me” culture: it’s everywhere, from our blogs (yes, I’ll readily admit my guilt) to the Twittering updates when we have a bowel movement.

Maybe Baumbach’s just reflecting what he sees–a culture in America of self-absorption at the expense of deep connection.

Advertisements

Filed under: film, , , , , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Visitor Map

Locations of Site Visitors

RSS Recent Posts from Towleroad

  • Bearded Stud’s Sexy Pumpkin ‘Dudeoir’ Pin-Up Shoot is Going Viral
    There are plenty of ways to celebrate the arrival of the fall season but this stud’s 14-shot sexy ‘dudeoir’ pumpkin pin-up shoot has to be one of the best. The model is Jake Thompson and the photos were taken by Thompson’s wif… Read The post Bearded Stud’s Sexy Pumpkin ‘Dudeoir’ Pin-Up Shoot is Going Viral appeared first on Towleroad.
  • Snap, Crackle, Pop, Tony the Tiger, Mr. Pringles, Ernie Keebler, and Toucan Sam Stand Up Against Anti-LGBTQ Bullying: WATCH
    Characters from Kellogg’s breakfast cereals and addictive snacks got together for a new “flash card” video in honor of Spirit Day, which takes place tomorrow, and encourages people around the world to wear purple and show they… Read The post Snap, Crackle, Pop, Tony the Tiger, Mr. Pringles, Ernie Keebler, and Toucan Sam Stand Up Against Anti-LGBTQ Bullying: […]
  • Colton Haynes: Billy Eichner and I Laughed Through Our Sex Scene
    Colton Haynes says shooting his sex scene with Billy Eichner in American Horror Story: Cult was funny and awkward. Said Haynes to ET: “We had protection on. We had clothes on and it’s just fun. Billy and I laugh the whole time … it was awkward.… Read The post Colton Haynes: Billy Eichner and I Laughed Through Our Sex Scene appeared first on Towleroad. […]
  • New Drug Research Opens Door to ‘Functional Cure’ for HIV
    MIAMI — A new therapy for HIV that does not require a lifelong regimen of daily drug cocktails may be on the horizon if early indications from studies on mice prove effective in people, scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida announce… Read The post New Drug Research Opens Door to ‘Functional Cure’ for HIV appeared first on Towleroad.
  • Jeff Sessions Grilled Before Senate Judiciary Committee in Oversight Hearing: WATCH LIVE
    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in an oversight hearing. CNN reports: The oversight hearing comes after a tumultuous summer for Sessions, during which he was publicly derided by the President over hi… Read The post Jeff Sessions Grilled Before Senate Judiciary Committee in Oversight Hearing: WATCH LIVE appea […]

Polls

RSS Breaking News from The Daily Beast

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

Pics from Africa 2010

About Me

https://rsiasoco.wordpress.com/about/

About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

Categories