Everly was in theaters for exactly one week. I happened to visit the Hollywood in the middle of of it's run and I asked one of the people behind the concession stand if it was any good. I was slightly curious about it since it starred Salma Hayek, whom I've always liked, but I hadn't even heard of it, which is generally not a good sign. I was told that basically no one was paying to see it and that the few people who did sit through it seemed to be annoyed with how dumb it was. I wasn't exactly inspired to buy a ticket on the spot and I didn't make it back out to the theater before it disappeared.
For most people that would be the end of the Everly story, but I'm the sort of dumbo who can never trust other people's opinions when my own will do. As soon as I saw that it was now available on DVD I ordered it from Netflix and when it came in the mail I immediately sat down to watch it. Within minutes of starting the movie I regretted not heeding that popcorn purveyor's very accurate words of warning. Everly starts with a crying Salma Hayek fishing a gun and a cell phone out of a toilet tank, then using the gun to shoot a room full of Asian men in business suits to death. The way the scene was stylized told me that Everly's director was convinced that random violence was super cool, a notion that I don't necessarily agree with. Oh, sure, at fifteen I was down to watch senseless carnage, but my enthusiasm for pointless scenes where random extras get exploded has dimmed now that I'm approaching middle age.
The rest of the movie continued in that same vein. Apparently Everly had been kidnapped by a mob boss four years ago and forced into a life of sex slavery. Now she had had enough, and she was determined to get out of the luxury apartment that had been her gilded cage and reunite with her daughter. However, before she could escape she was going to have to kill a bunch of her fellow prostitutes (who were all too willing to collect the bounty on her head), a whole bunch of cops (apparently the bad guy has bought every single cop in the city, which can't be cheap), and eventually a bunch of weird henchmen, including a guy called "The Sadist" who likes to burn people with acids he keeps in a medicine bag.
I was probably supposed to spend the movie's 90 minute runtime wondering if Everly would escape safely, or if she would kill the man who had done this to her, or if she would be reunited with her daughter, but I wasn't interested in any of those questions. No, the only thing I wanted to know was: why do I do this to myself? All of the signs pointed to this moving being bad, and yet... I watched it anyway. I'm well aware that one of humanity's greatest strengths is that we have a communal memory that allows us to learn from the mistakes of others without having to make them ourselves. I know that we could never have arisen from the muck of animal life and created civilization if we weren't capable of taking good advice from our more experienced elders. So why would I hear a bunch of people say "that movie sucked" and then think "yeah, sign me up"?
At this point in my life my relationship with pop culture is a complex mixture of optimism, apathy and self abuse. I try new things that have promise because I legitimately think they might be good. I try new things that could be good because I’m easily bored and thus I regularly need something – anything! – that feels novel to entertain me. And sometimes I try things that I know will suck because I want an excuse to be mad at myself. It's the same impulse that causes me to comfort eat: yes, I’m looking for the instant reward that fatty food offers, but I’m also looking for that kind of gross feeling that you get afterwards when your body is trying to tell you “that wasn’t good for you, bro.” Sometimes you have to lean into a bad feeling and make it worse before you are motivated enough to make it better.
Hindsight being 20/20, I can see that I experimented with Everly because I wanted an excuse to be mad at myself. My headspace has been weird lately. I've been thinking and rethinking certain morbid thoughts, like how most of the people that history remembers are monsters, and how it might be a mixed blessing if I earned an epitaph that read “he wasn’t so awful that he was memorable.” I've also been obsessing about how little I’ve accomplished in the ten plus years since I graduated college. I keep imagining a scenario where I would go to my class reunion and answer the question "so what have you been up to since the last time I saw you?" with "I've spent my last decade being a rounding error that the universe hasn’t gotten around to correcting yet." And so on; there's no point in dwelling in all the weird self pitying cycles I've been locked in lately. The point is that there's a reason why I decided to watch a movie that would make me feel like an idiot at a time when I wanted to make myself feel like an idiot.
I started this site last year with the explicit goal of reminding myself to spend more time thinking about what is important in life and less time obsessing over dumb pop culture stuff. I did so because I realized that I was spending way too much time passively consuming massive amounts of media and I knew I needed to be doing something more productive with my free time. For the most part that change of perspective has been a good for my mental health... But it's tricky, because sometimes I just need to give myself permission to waste my time by watching crap; my head can't be thinking about big picture stuff all the time. No, at this exact moment I need to reach beyond the explicit goal of this website to it's implicit goal, which is living a more balanced life with a healthier mind. And that means forgiving myself for doing something harmless and dumb instead of using it as a tool to attack myself.
Here’s the truth: my cat is the happiest when she comes in from the rain and gets under the covers with me - it’s basically the only time she ever purrs. As far as I can tell her biggest joy in life is being warm, safe, and comforted, and honestly there's a lot I could learn from her example. Sure, maybe I haven’t accomplished a ton in the big scheme of things, but I do have food and shelter and I am safe. I even stay dry for the most part, although you can't always avoid the rain in a wet place like Portland. Overall I live an absurdly comfortable life, so who cares if I'm wasting my time? When you get right down to it every living thing on earth is basically wasting it's time, but if they do so while staying warm, dry and safe then they're doing alright. Sometimes I just need to remind myself that I'm doing alright, because I am. I really am.
That said: Everly still sucked.
Winner: The Cat