Like many shut-in children from the 90s, I learned most of my first lessons about love & life from Nora Ephron films. Whether it was Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally, or You’ve Got Mail; baby-me was entirely convinced that I’d one day wander the streets of some bustling city, with only a cup of coffee & a blonde mullet to keep me warm at night. I was half right.
You’ve Got Mail is an endless treasure trove. It was ahead of it’s time; warning of the challenges of online dating, the threat of big brand bookstores, & the importance of using caviar as a garnish. However, my favorite lesson centered on something a bit more complicated.
Tom Hanks (NY152) humbly asks his chat-room love interest: “Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself? That a Pandora’s box of all the secret, hateful parts – your arrogance, your spite, your condescension – has sprung open? Someone upsets you; and instead of smiling and moving on, you zing them.”
Meg Ryan (Shopgirl) explains she has the opposite issue. She revealed she is usually tongue-tied & mortified during any emotional confrontation. Tom’s character proposes: “It [would] be wonderful if I could pass all my zingers to you. And then; I would never behave badly and you could behave badly all the time. […] I must warn you that when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say at the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows.”
Anyone that has dug deep into the ugly parts of their soul and said ‘the thing you want to say, the moment you want to say it’ can immediately recognize the shame-induced-stomach-pit that trails close behind. No matter how provoked, no matter how honest, the transfer of pain is never worth the ricochet.
Since the price is so high, many of us prefer to indulge in others’ ruthlessness instead (cue WorldstarHipHop!). Continue reading the Top 10 Trash-Talking pop culture moments to get your fix of naughty, no-good disrespect!
“When I dress up as a frigid b*tch, I try not to look so constipated.” (Legally Blonde) Elle Woods is sick of being treated like a fool, and we’re all here for it.
“Perhaps you should embroider a red ‘A’ on your wardrobe, you abominable tramp.” (Easy A) Even though Olive Penderghast is still technically ‘pure’, she relishes in the discomfort she brings the ‘holier than thou’ crowd. The plain girl at school makes this suggestion upon reading The Scarlet Letter. Olive’s response is even more gasp-worthy, but it involves the “T” word. *yikes!*
“I know how to fence and you don’t, or, I have class and you don’t. Take your pick”. (Parent Trap) That one time long-haired Lindsay Lohan was so mean to short-haired Lindsay Lohan. Don’t worry, she got her revenge on herself during the oddly-flirtatious poker scene that soon followed.
“Claire? That’s a fat girl’s name. Not at present. But, I could really see you pushing maximum density.” (Breakfast Club) All of John Bender’s following dialogue proves that John Hughes’ films would have some pretty serious ‘Me Too’ issues. Nothing like a little sexual harassment when you’re a teenager locked in Saturday detention. Classic.
“I never treated you like a prostitute!” (Pretty Woman) And Vivian Ward’s famous response, “You just did”. Edward Lewis is a mostly decent guy; but he gives himself a little too much credit. Sure, he only purchased the entry-level escort package she was offering. But, he thinks he deserves credit for not being abusive. Sorely mistaken.
“Why don’t you go back to your double wide and fry something?” (Sweet Home Alabama) This future-mother-in-law vs. ex-mother-in-law disrespect had us in a cold sweat. Thank god, this movie counterbalanced with one of the most romantic quotes ever…. #SoICanKissYouAnytimeIWant is my 2040 wedding hashtag and you can’t have it.
“You can go shave your back hair now.” (Mean Girls) Regina George dismisses a pubescent boy in the most horrific manner. Can you imagine saying this with no fear of the rebuttal insult(s)?
“I thought you said she was thin.” (Bridget Jones’s Diary) Bridget catches Daniel Cleaver cheating in a particularly disturbing manner. The other woman takes one look at Bridget and says “Daniel, I thought you said she was thin”. CAN. YOU. IMAGINE. THE. RAGE. ???.
“You are a sad, strangle little man; and you have my pity.” (Toy Story) Buzz Lightyear is not ready for Woody’s supremely existential crisis, so he deflects like a true expert. For the record, Tom Hanks could take Tim Allen any time of day.
“My biggest flops are your greatest hits” … and every other verse from Eminem’s Killshot. Eminem put Machine Gun Kelly in his place, rightfully so. If you want to cause beef, stay in your lane. Don’t pick on a Great One just to get some air time.
Depending on our upbringing, our stress levels, & the amount of time since our last caffeine consumption, we all have a different tolerance for other peoples’ bullsh*t. But, we could all stand to learn to resist the temptation to zing someone.
George Clooney’s impossibly charming character in One Fine Day asks his daughter to promise him “when you grow up and are incredibly beautiful & intelligent; and possess a certain sweetness that’s like a distant promise to the brave, could you please not beat to a pulp every miserable bastard that comes your way simply because you can? Could you not do that?”
I like to remind myself of this quote when I find myself creeping into an ‘Equalizer’ role. It is no individual’s job to police social justice in the world. No human is worthy of being so righteous. While it is necessary to challenge abusers, bullies, and tyrants; bringing someone ‘down to reality’ is rather selfish in nature.
Everyone’s behavior towards another is simply a manifestation of their relationship with themselves. If we are able to challenge, encourage, & forgive ourselves, then we may have the capacity to do so for others. Healed people heal people, so, love yourself a little extra today.
“There’s enough assholes in the world, Dr. Squires. Don’t be another one”.The Wackness. 2008.