Garden State has long served as a watered-down gateway to alternative culture for young, emotional fuckboys to be. The soundtrack introduced countless suburbanites to synthesizers and vocal fry, and undoubtedly inspired teen bands across the Northeast to write songs about that one Quirky Girl in their class who no one seemed to appreciate but them. It’s indie potato chips — very easy to ingest, very low nutritional value, good for what it is.
Apparently, Natalie Portman had never been exposed to this very common critique of the 11-year-old movie, until she watched Broad City.
“I’ve been insecure about [the movie] recently because of Broad City,” she said at a panel at the Toronto International Film Festival on Wednesday evening. “Best show. If you haven’t watched it, watch it.”
“On the show there’s a really dorky character who’s a gym instructor, like an Equinox guy or something, and he’s the worst. And he’s like, ‘Oh my god, I love Garden State! I donated all my money to Zach Braff’s Kickstarter,’” she continued, putting her head in her hands. “And I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ So now, because the people I think are the coolest think it’s really lame I’m kind of insecure about it.”
She also added that she knew her character Sam had become the standard-bearer for Manic Pixie Dream Girl-dom, and didn’t feel great about that either:
“When I read [the script] I was like, ‘Oh, this is a character that’s wacky and interesting and no one’s ever given me a chance to play something like this. It’s this sort of unusual girl.
So that was my incentive to make it. But of course I see that trope and I think it’s a good thing to recognize the way those female characters are used. I mean, I appreciate that people are writing characters that are interesting and unusual, rather than some bland female character as the girlfriend in a movie, but when the point of the character in this movie is to, like, help the guy have his arc, that’s sort of the problem, and that’s why it’s good that they’re talking about it, because it certainly is a troubling trope.”
So, Abbi and Ilana, next time you think about insulting one of Portman’s professional choices, Don’t Panic, but be Fair. You don’t reach Such Great Heights by making bad choices and being unable to Let Go of them. We’re all In The Waiting Line for fame but we aren’t all Lebanese Blondes with Blue Eyes — some of us have brown or black hair. Life is a Winding Road, and while Caring Is Creepy, the opposite is worse. But also, if you make fun of Natalie in New Slang, it won’t even matter because she won’t understand it.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight.