Juliet: I’m a virgin.
Nick: Oh. Wow. That’s a surprise. A real total virgin?
Juliet: Yeah. I’ve never even… well, anything.
Nick: Juliet, why do you —
Juliet: — let everyone think I’m a slut?
Juliet: It’s easier.
– Dirty Sexy Money –
You’re in high school, at the age when you hate everyone for making you feel left out, and everyone hates you for trying too hard or not trying at all to fit in. Pressured by your so-called best friend, you decide to tell a small white lie, which, when it concerns cashing in your V-card, could turn out to be a really big statement. And because this is a school, teeming with raging hormones and multifaceted complexes, everything down to the doorknobs has ears, and before you know it, everyone knows (or thinks) that you have become the resident harlot, and the entire XY population of the school wants to literally buy the bragging rights.
So how do you handle it? By giving everyone what they want: the skanky outfits with the scarlet A pinned on, the secret agreements on what the bragging rights entail, and the sarcastic humor and bitterly sharp wit to cut out the wagging tongues and searing stares.
When Fadhil first suggested that I watch Easy A, all he said was that ‘the lead actress reminded him of me’ (I later surmised that by ‘actress’ he actually meant Emma Stone‘s character, Olive Penderghast). So, driven to curiosity, I bought the DVD last week, figuring that while my foot was too hideously swollen to appear in decent public places, I would make Afham watch it with me.
The most immediate and glaring deductions I can make about this movie are:
- This is the first teen film I’ve genuinely liked since 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You;
- I can see why, despite the marked difference in the turn of events, Fadhil was so insistent that I watch it, which I later admitted to him*;
- If I had handled myself the way Olive did when I was her age, I may have cried less and been a little happier in high school;
- Emma Stone’s Olive Penderghast gives Julia Stiles’s Kat Stratford some serious contention for the role of Teenage Heroine in my book; and
- High school will haunt you to your deathbed!
Watching Easy A brought on enormous waves of nostalgia (the bad kind, mind) about my high school years, when I had to endure bizarre speculation and gossip about something that, although I swore I never did (because I never had to), everyone (and I mean everyone, because this was a ridiculously small school that housed all of something like 150 kids) zealously believed I did. And even after my mother suggested that I take it in stride and egg these people on to make them tire of the gossip, I realized I tired of defending myself first. And so, when I watched the movie and saw how eagerly everyone fell over themselves to perpetuate a rumor that had been started by Olive’s own best friend, it made me sad to think that somewhere in the world, someone’s parents weren’t teaching them that gossip eventually destroys everything that everyone holds dear.
It made me even sadder to realize that regardless of what the high school kids are doing with their grapevines these days — the horrors of which, thanks to social media like Facebook and Twitter, one cannot even begin to imagine — the kids of years gone by seem to have brought high school with them into their adult lives. Take where I work, for instance: the love of gossip, ass-kissing, and gravitation from one ‘friend’ to another is as alive and rampant as ever, with no signs of ceasing and desisting, or of taking it in turns to be the bigger person and confront these issues head-on.
In the movie, Olive ends with: “It was just like Hester (Prynne) in The Scarlet Letter, except that’s the one thing the movies don’t tell you: how shitty it feels to be an outcast, warranted or not.” She goes on to talk about her new (and real) boyfriend: “I really like this guy, and I might even lose my virginity to him. I don’t know when it’ll happen; it might be five minutes from now, or tonight, or six months from now, or maybe on our wedding night. But the really amazing thing is — it is nobody’s goddamned business.”
* And yet, I felt compelled to throw in a postscript to Fadhil: “Just know that the rumors about me stuffing my bra were not true.”