Whatever It Was David Archuleta Said
On Crushes, Bridgers-Mescal news, Andor, and my first Vancouver celebrity sighting.
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Crushing on someone is one of my favourite pastimes.
It is also, perhaps, one of the most mortifying ordeals I’ve ever had to endure, and it happens more often than you’d think. I think I’ve had 7 proper crushes this year alone, and four of them were mates of mine. I can’t help it! If I’m not a tiny bit in love with all my friends, why would they be my friends in the first place? I’m lucky to be surrounded by good company! I should be so lucky!
I honestly can’t help it. I’ve always thought it was a bit of a problem. It’s not in a “is there romantic potential in this friendship/connection?”-kind of way, but more of the “oh, hang on, wait—I think I fancy you”—kind of way. It’s so much fun! Crushes spice up my life. I love talking to my friends about crushes or dates I go on and hearing all the juicy or mundane romances in their lives, in what I assume is the modern-day equivalent to Ancient Greek philosophers congregating to unpack the way they think. But like, slay.
I made a couple of notes in my journal about why I wanted to open this week’s newsletter on such a personal note. It’s because I often find myself fixating on a crush. I think it’s really embarrassing. And kind of scary? I know friends that have the privilege (read: held against their will) of being entertained in my Twitter Circle on every interaction update on the boy I fancy at the moment think it’s really funny, but I actually think there is genuinely something wrong with me. I should not be thinking about people (or the attention they give me) for prolonged periods of time.
One of my least favourite pastimes is having a thought sparked by a TikTok I saw on my For You Page, for no other reason than I don’t like admitting that I am on TikTok and am not making anything on it (an essay for another time) and that I don’t trust that algorithm nor its credibility. But I digress. I saw this TikTok from a therapist (whether or not they were actually a therapist is beyond my periphery, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, I think they were) talking about how obsessively thinking about someone is a way of creating a false sense of control borne out of a fear of rejection—either a past, present, or future rejection. It’s another coping mechanism in the unnecessarily elaborate web of systems my mind (and maybe yours, I don’t know if you can relate to this) conjures to pre-emptively protect myself from something that hasn’t even happened yet.
I hated crushing on people in high school, it was embarrassing. I found it harder and harder to divorce my identity from liking someone. One of the most mortifying experiences of my life was finding out a friend said someone referred to me as “the girl that likes X” before meeting me for the first time. I hate that! I can’t believe I’m admitting that out of my own free will! In an ideal world, I wouldn’t give that information up even with a gun to my head, but for the sake of argument and transparency, I will throw caution and cringe to the wind.
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I’ve observed that a lot of the complexes I have surrounding desirability and romance stem from high school. There are all these expectations that seem ridiculous now in hindsight, but at the time—like most things at school—felt like they were life or death. Now that I’m a lot older, and a lot of my romantic experiences have been very varied, I look back at some of the choices I’ve made or the behaviour I displayed to be a direct response to feeling less than desirable in high school. Sure, I had a date to prom, but I know that having no one fancy me in high school messed with my head in some way. It’s bizarre because as I’ve gotten older and more comfortable with myself, I recoil at the revelation of how inextricably linked my self-worth was to my perceived desirability. It’s an ongoing process, and being able to get this down into words and acknowledge the shame I have attached to that is a huge step, at least for me personally.
It also occurred to me that I wasn’t really sure that I had a grasp on the idea of ‘desire’ in the first place. I often reference Todd McGowan’s Capitalism and Desire as a sort of springboard for any kind of framework I’d try to think my way in or out of when it comes to romance. The idea that the thrill is in the chase instead of the actual “acquisition” of the actual “object” of desire makes sense, that it’s in the sublimation of the desire itself reminds me a lot of what Lacan had to say about desire and the Other:
Desire full stop is always the desire of the Other. Which basically means that we are always asking the Other what he desires. (My Teaching, p. 38)
Lacan posited that desire is: a) recognition from the other/Other (object of desire), and b) desiring what we suppose the Other desires, or what the Other lacks. In Teardrops on My Guitar, an early unrequited love in Taylor Swift’s oeuvre, she sings: “I’ll bet she’s beautiful, that girl he talks about / she’s got everything that I have to live without” and later on “and there he goes, so perfectly / the kind of flawless I wish I could be”. Drew, The Other, and the object of his desire become points of reference for Taylor to compare herself to, a disruption of whatever state of self she has going on.
To become what we assume the Other desires is sort of the core tenet of Swift’s Mastermind and its subsequent TikTok trends, where people have revealed via the song as a TikTok sound how they’ve ‘masterminded’ their way into a relationship with their current partner—the different tactics, strategies, pseudo-manipulation of interests to attract and secure a mate. I feel like I’ve done this as well to varying degrees of success. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that because of the people I meet, I just end up fancying people that already like the shit I like (my track record states I only fancy massive nerds). I’m also not above Mastermind-ing. It’s kind of funny, as much as it can and does work, it also goes back to that thing of creating a false sense of security wherein we have zero control over the outcome.
I know we all joke about the “mortifying ordeal of being known”, but is there anything more mortifying than the desire to be known? I think what I’m trying to take away from all of this is to be less embarrassed, or to judge myself less for these very human situations I find myself in. Everyone has crushes! Crushes are fun! I’ve known them to make me feel so humiliated and gross when I was younger, but now I think I can appreciate them for what it is: the excitement of being attracted to someone. I think those feelings of shame and rejection can be shaken off if I just keep remembering that I know I should, and stay with me here, be treated as a person by the people I’m romantically involved with. A central tenet to recovering from what my best friend calls “straight bitch disease”. The excitement of wanting to get to know someone, even if you already know them in a different way. I am absolutely, and now learning to be shamelessly, a hopeless romantic. And will that come back to bite me in the arse down the line? Maybe. But that’s a problem for future Ari to deal with, if it is a problem at all.
Shining, Shimmering, Splendid
Speaking of true, modern romance; Jennifer Lopez was spotted with not one but TWO Dunkin Donuts beverages out on the town with husband and Dunkin Donuts guerrilla marketer Ben Affleck. He was showing her his world! I love when you share your interests with your partner! I’m obsessed with Jenny from the Block holding a Dunkin matcha. I didn’t know Dunkin did matcha! For the thousandth time, me and who?
Savior Complex Music Video Dowry
Speaking of love, Phoebe Bridgers and Paul Mescal are reportedly engaged! Huge news for people who consumed nothing but Normal People post-breakup in the first lockdown! The Sally Rooney Boyfriend Factory has been doing very well for singer-songwriters of the blonde variety. I’m more so in awe of the fact that their relationship started with this mutual admiration, thirst tweeting, and a very awkwardly endearing (and hot) Instagram live from earlier in the pandemic. Phoebe famously broke international lockdown to see Paul in Ireland! If I had her resources, I would do the same. A huge inspiration to the Down Bad everywhere. Congratulations to the happy couple.
Star Wars: The Slaycolite
Carrie-Ann Moss and Dafne Keen have joined the cast of Star Wars: The Acolyte, a show I had no idea was going on until two weeks ago! How delightful! I thought I was going to be having Andor withdrawals but I guess not! The premise is really exciting and the cast is stacked. Also, finding out Manny Jacinto is going to be in this is a huge deal. First UBC alumnus in a Star Wars! Me next, thanks! I don’t want a repeat of Top Gun: Maverick. Manny Jacinto better be in full frame, foreground, AND in focus. Otherwise, Kathleen Kennedy will be getting some very stern emails from me and every Southeast Asian in Canada.
One! Way! OUT!
I just found out that Beau Willimon wrote episodes 8, 9 and 10 (that came out today) of Andor and suddenly everything clicked. No wonder I’m obsessed with this show, the guy that made House of Cards is on the writing staff! My brain is so fried that you wouldn’t know I was watching Episode 10 this morning because I just kept yelling “slay pussy queen house down boots” at my laptop. That sequence in the prison and Andy Serkis’ address to the intercom, Mon Mothma’s little Claire Underwood moment, and Luthen’s monologue towards the end of the episode actually had me fired up in the best way.
What I think really sets Andor apart is that the storytellers don’t just give a shit about Star Wars, they want to contribute something more to it. They care about capital s Story and thank God they care about the craft. Tony Gilroy and his staff have something to say, as I think he always has to some extent, even if he is getting that fat Disney cheque. I liked that he actively encouraged his staff to set aside whatever reverence or nostalgia they have for Star Wars during the show’s writing.
A lot of the ‘discourse’ surrounding Disney’s involvement centres around Disney as an injection of capital, that Star Wars wouldn’t be able to do any of this without money from the Mouse’s gloved palm. Which, of course, to some degree is true. I guess my primary concern, which I’m still trying to work out in my head, is more of a hypothetical that could turn into an inevitability. Disney already has such a monopoly over everything from box office to streaming, whether or not they care about “storytelling” is a useless argument—we know that they’ll keep funding whatever will keep making them money.
My concern there is if original stories with a more, for lack of better phrasing, progressive angle to it, or progressive politics in existing IP will eventually fall through the cracks if they stop making Big Mickey money, they will cease to exist. That isn’t to say that progressive stories can’t exist outside of mainstream media nor should they have to, but there’s something rather sinister it coming from Disney. I think it makes people feel a lot better about themselves knowing that they can just get their kicks in about their progressiveness—much like they do on Twitter—by watching one TV show instead of doing any actual reading, work, or contributions to their own community. But I digress.
Star Wars was special to me growing up because it was all about disruption and dissent, even in those prequels and misguided sequels. It’s also something special I share with my family. Regardless of any of our differences or where we are in the world, I can still talk Space Wizards with my brother and my dad. We’re the kind of household with X-Wing hanging planters. The sentimentality I have about it, as I think many fans do, make it difficult to separate how much we love this world we’ve come to know with how complicated its acquisition as property has become. Star Wars as a business versus Star Wars as the thing you loved as a kid is something I’m still struggling to articulate my feelings about, but maybe I should leave well enough alone for now?
I just think it makes a world of difference when you have actual screenwriters in the writer’s room for these franchise installments, duh, to nobody’s surprise. They should give Beau Willimon his own Star Wars show. And maybe Robin Wright can be in it, too. Just throwing it out there.
These Violent Delights Have Canceled Ends
HBO has canceled Westworld, my emotional support sci-fi cowboy show, ahead of its now-defunct fifth season. I’m devastated. Is this how people felt when they canceled Firefly? Now Luke Hemsworth is unemployed and that is no good for anyone! He’s the only person in that family that can act! How atrocious! What really sucks about this is that the Season 4 cliffhanger sets up this super intriguing arc for Dolores and really pushes what we’ve yet to see about how much further the Hosts can push humanity. I’ve yet to tune in to Lisa Joy/Jonah Nolan’s latest for Amazon Prime, The Periphery, starring Chloe Grace Moretz, but I don’t think it will fill the Dolores Abernathy-shaped hole in my heart. David Zaslav should sleep with one eye open!
Oscar Update Vol. 12838338
During a Mumford and Sons concert at the Beacon Theatre, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive snub Oscar Isaac came out and played Fare Thee Well (Dink’s Song) from Inside Llewyn Davis. He was wearing what we in the Indonesian Muslim community call a sarung. It was giving pos ronda, but I don’t care. It’s Oscar Isaac.
Better Call My Mum
Last Saturday, I got off my bus in Kitsilano and saw Bob Odenkirk leave Patagonia. I’m pretty sure I froze and stared at him for a hot minute as he walked by me. I called my brother (to no avail, forgetting the time difference) and left him and my mother many voice notes about how insane that was. He’s apparently filming another AMC show here in British Columbia. Wild. I hope Uncle Bob is enjoying the snow and the sunshine. I didn’t get a picture with him because I was, as usual, a dunce. But if I see him around again, I’ll pluck up the courage to ask for one.
That’s all for this week, lads. Will try to get one in next week, I miss invading your inboxes four times a month.
I have been reading your post for a year now then I realized even if I'm receiving email notices, I'm not SUBSCRIBED to you.
Ah! Social media. Reading about your thoughts on SM (I do not associate social media with those initials) I feel like I would drown if I swim further in social media's waters. I have Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, and with plenty of reluctance but I stick to it because most of my family is there, Viber.
I'm staying in the shallows. I'm not expanding into Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok, Webo, Douyin, QQ, Snapchat, Telegram, Pinterest, Reddit, Quora, LinkedIn, or Truth Social, sorry.