The Great Gatsby

I guess everyone is excited about this movie, and I'm no exception. I know why I was thrilled about it - I'm a sucker for a Baz Luhrmann flick, anything to do with the roaring 20's (which I have been trying to "bring back" with zero success since high school), Leonardo DiCaprio (I've been a fangirl since 4th grade), and, well, F. Scott Fitzgerald....
But I was disappointed. Not with the movie. The movie was a work of art, as most of Baz Luhrmann movies are. (That's the great thing about art, too. Not everyone is going to like it, so you don't have to agree with me about that. I don't care if you don't.)
When the movie ended and the credits began, I didn't want to move from the seat, I was nearly in tears. The audience moving out of the theater was already commenting on how amazing the movie was. Amazing? Amazing?? Sure, it was pretty and stylish. The costumes were a little too modern, the soundtrack was neat (but it really didn't take the center stage of the movie), and it was really flashy. But was anyone actually paying attention to what happened in the end - or even what the story is about?

I read The Great Gatsby in high school, like most people. But unlike most people, I didn't read it for a class. I read it for fun. I remember at the time two of my best friends were these 60-something year old women who were aids in our school's special ed class. We'd hit it off because we all loved books. I found my copy of Gatsby at a thrift store and everyday I'd see my ladies, I'd tell them how far I'd gotten in my book. "I think things are looking up for Jay Gatsby, guys!" I told them. (They kind of gave each other pitying glances.) A 90 year old book seems a little ridiculous to spoil, but when I finished the book I was devastated...
Sitting in the theater, I relived that gut wrenched feeling all over again. And what made it all the more depressing is that I was the only one feeling so depressed. Everyone seemed to be caught up on the superficiality - which is kind of what the story is about. They didn't even seem to notice that they were the same as the Buchanans or Gatsby's party guests. They were blind to the facade.
I'm not going to explain myself. I'm hoping against the odds that everyone reading this has also read The Great Gatsby in high school or something like that (if you haven't, I'm leaving the judgement off. I still haven't read Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, which every American is supposed to have read as well) and in doing so, I hope it was explained to you that the story is a metaphor for American society's gaudy, polished surface and bitter, corrupted core. Obviously, there were people in the audience that saw the shiny bits and blocked out the dark stuff.

I'm glad this movie has given a lot of Americans a renewed interest in one of the great classics. (I'm always happy when something popular happens to pop culture that sends kids to the bookstore or library.) The silver lining is that the night after watching it with my parents, my dad asked if I had a copy of The Great Gatsby. (duh!) He's already 50 pages into it, though he was originally concerned that he couldn't finish it. I'm nauseated with joy

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