The Great Gatsby, Angst and Undermining Public Schools…Rightly So!

I’m going to give Baz Luhrmann’s Gatsby a pass. The only Luhrmann movie I’ve ever enjoyed was his Strictly Ballroom. There was something endearingly innocent and sweet about that movie, despite all the goofiness and cheesiness of the film. Moulin Rouge was a graffiti headache, a tornado of 56 different crayon colors melted down and then sprayed around with hallucinatory abandon. I wanted to punch Ewen MacGregor’s character in the face about halfway through for being such a dumb schmuck. At any rate (discounted or not), Gatsby looks like Moulin Rouge on 100 milligrams of Prednisone. And 3-d to boot?

Shudder. Gag me with a peacock feather.

The critic over at the Observer doesn’t sound that impressed, wrapping up his critique with a nasty uppercut to Luhrmann’s glass jaw: “…overwrought, asinine, exaggerated and boring. But in the end, about as romantic as a pet rock.”

Ah, romance and pet rocks. Ever a thrilling subject. Oh, pet rock, how shall I count the ways? I shall save my seven dollars from ending up in Baz’s pocket and, instead, invest it in several ice cream cones (Cherry and Double Chocolate Fudge).

To be honest, I never enjoyed Fitzgerald’s book from the first time it was inflicted on me in high school. Yeah, he’s a good writer and he knows how to draw characters, but who really cares about another story about angst? Angst is over-rated. At least his story is better than all the new angst-dreck coming out these days. Hot Girl becomes pool of angst due to Hot Guy ignoring her. Hot Angel Girl becomes pool of angst due to falling in love with Hot Demon (Hot Demon? Is that redundant or what?). Hot Girl becomes pool of angst due to falling in love with Hot Vampire Dude or Hot Werewolf Dude or Hot Biker Dude with lots of Hot Tattoos. Hot Girl achieves amazing abs of tanned steel while simultaneously melting into a pool of angst.

Which leads me to the other thought bubbling in my head: it is time to start the Grand Project: the secret demolition of the public school. I don’t mean the actual physical demolition of public schools (in case there are Homeland Security commissars reading this blog [buy my books, you Homeland Security commissars]). I mean the destruction of the idea, the anti-intellectual construct, the false god of public education.

Let’s face it. Other than a few isolated exceptions here and there, public school churns out illiterate worker drones addicted to entertainment, social media and Snickers bars. Public school no longer teaches the art of critical thinking. It teaches nonsense like diversity and tolerance (though, only when tolerance falls in line with politically correct sludge) and herd behavior.

So…it’s high time we set about undermining public school. How shall we begin? Much more on this later (though, I’m certainly going to draw inspiration from Geoffrey Searle’s fabulous classic Down With Skool–despite the fact he was targeting English private schools, there’s a great deal of energy that can be ported over into the public school arena).

5 thoughts on “The Great Gatsby, Angst and Undermining Public Schools…Rightly So!”

  1. You’re funny. And yes, Homeland Security commissars, whatever you are, buy Christopher’s books.
    As for public schools, they were never intended for anything but churning out illiterate worker drones (unless you’re talking the British style of ‘public school’, which was intended to churn out upper-crust elite ‘gentlemen’ who can pronounce “year” in a way no one else does. Yüre. It’s special.). Okay, maybe not illiterate, for a given value of the word, but worker drones. Prussian discipline, making the people into obedient workers/soldiers/citizens who jump to the sound of the bell and never, never question authority. Jawohl, Herr Lehrer! (Herr General, Herr Präsident…)
    However, having said that, my personal experience is that evil public school is doing a good job with my offspring right now, for which I’m grateful, so I speak in the general, not the specific.

    1. You’ll notice I was very careful to take an insurance policy out with my piece (hedging myself by saying that there are exceptions to the rule — i.e., your kids, etc). Likewise, there are good teachers and administrators in the system, along with the students that do well, but I think it’s pretty clear (in the States) that those are bucking the environment. Subversion. Subversion is what has to happen somehow. If you’ve never come across Ronald Searle’s Down With Skool, then drop everything and seek it out. Fabulously hilarious book. I’m going to have to write my own version of it and get my subversion campaign going.

  2. So I just read that review from the Observer. And I have to say that someone who seems to only be able to spew insults at everyone (and their little dog, too) makes me a bit suspicious of their objectivity when it comes to movies. Frustrated actor/movie director, perhaps?

    However, it makes me wonder. He says there are *no* good film adaptations of “The Great Gatsby”. Are there perhaps books which simply don’t lend themselves to movies? Books that are undisputed masterpieces (regardless of whether one “likes” them or not), but that just can’t be done in film? I bet there are. And vice versa – stories which are made for film, but would be lousy books. In the former category, there’s Austen’s “Mansfield Park” – I have yet to see a really good film version of that.

    1. Yeah, I think some books just don’t translate well into movies. Certainly stories that contain a great deal of internal ruminations. Those don’t seem to work as film. A lot of literary works live and die on the beauty of the written word, as opposed to plain old plot. Maybe that’s part of the problem with books like Gatsby?

      1. Yes, very likely. And the stories that work well as movies and poorly as books ride on the beauty of the plot, or of the visual story-telling. Film and book are two different art forms; maybe we need to stop trying to jam the content of the one into the other.

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