When she was interviewed on Sound Opinions earlier this year, Neko Case said that the origin of her song “Local Girl” stemmed from her frustration with the way that most love songs are written for teens. The chorus of the song – which includes the refrain “all of you lie about something” - is about how love is more complicated in the real world than it is in the platitudes of mass market pop culture. It’s a disservice to the teens to pretend that love is this perfect glossy thing, and it’s also annoying for adults to have to pretend that teens know shit about anything. (As I put it on Twitter recently: “Love songs written by teenagers are about as helpful as yelp reviews by pandas.”)
Now, Pompeii is a fucking terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination. I could spend a lot of time ranting about how magical the volcano explosion is – it seems to only erupt at times when the hero needs a distraction so he can escape. Or I could go off on how terrible the acting is – the Romeo part of the movie’s Romeo and Juliet couple is basically only good at brooding, which would be fine except he has, you know, lines to speak sometimes. And the script is generic, yadda yadda.
But the part that offended me the most was that this young Celtic slave steals the young Roman noblewoman’s heart by being gentle with a freaked out horse. This movie seriously expects me to buy a romance that’s based on a mutual appreciation for ponies is going to last? That this is going to be an all time great love? That when they both die under a heap of ash that their love – which was kindled in a long weekend – is so monumental that they should be enshrined in a constellation even though the only thing they share is a fondness for horses?
My niece is six and when I asked her about her “I [heart] ponies” shirt she said that she knew she was getting too old for ponies but she didn’t care, she still liked it. She’s too old for ponies and she’s six! This is a movie about a full grown woman who meets a slave. A handsome slave, yes, but a slave who is a gladiator, who has killed multiple people and really wants his freedom. And she doesn’t think “well, he can be a love slave, but maybe I’ll get married to someone who is a little less murderous”. She doesn’t think “well, maybe he can be in charge of the stables, but perhaps I should know him for more than a few days before I pledge eternal love to him at great cost to my family and myself”. Nope, we’re supposed to believe that she thinks “this guy loves ponies in a way that no man has ever loved ponies, so as my entire world is being melted by fiery acts of God I am going to risk my life and the life of everyone around me to track him down in the middle of volcanic genocide.”
Look: I get that teens like the Romeo and Juliet thing, and I get that you make money by selling crap to teens. But get the fuck out of here with your pony bullshit Pompeii. Even dumb teens deserve better than that, and as a full grown man who definitely doesn’t buy the simplified romantic garbage of pop-song romance I definitely deserve better.
Winner: The Cat