Eva Levy explores the world of journalism in the movies: are they sometimes too ludicrous to feel real?
The life of an average journalist isn’t particularly glamorous. Paying bills, re-writing drafts, pitching ideas… Real-life problems. In movies, journalists are often depicted as cool dudes with a latte in one hand and their Macbook in the other, like Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada. But movies aren’t real life, and sometimes, fictional journalists are too ridiculous to believe. XCityPlus has identified some of the most ludicrous fictional journalist moments.
Sex and the City (1998-2004)
“When I first moved to New York and I was totally broke, sometimes I would buy Vogue instead of dinner, I just felt it fed me more.”
That’s what Carrie Bradshaw, the notorious columnist from Sex and the City, says to a famous photographer during a date. Even though Carrie came a long way, as she explains, we know her as a columnist for a newspaper.
In theory, most columnists don’t earn big bucks ($66,607 [£44,000], according to Salary.com). It could be enough to live in Manhattan in the 90s. But somehow, Carrie manages to live in New York, eat out every single day, and buy designer shoes, well, every single day too. We also see her typing on her computer while smoking cigarettes and looking in the distance, to prove she works hard.
Her character isn’t really a realistic depiction of a struggling columnist trying to find love in New York. She’s more of a shoe addict (if it’s a thing), writing stuff to justify the show’s voice-over. It would be a relief if your favourite magazine could actually feed you, but in real life the only thing that you’d be left with is a hungry stomach.
What can we learn from this ridiculous moment?
Don’t eat paper. And don’t think that being a columnist is how you get a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan. It’s hard to swallow, but it’s the truth.
Never Been Kissed (1999)
Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore) is a copy editor for a Chicago newspaper who desperately wants to get commissioned for an investigative journalism piece. But according to her boss, she’s not a reporter, because a journalist needs to be “aggressive” and “grab the bull by the balls”. We’ll ignore the fact that this explanation is at once sexist and quite violent.
The very same day, there’s a meeting with the big boss, James Rigfort (Garry Marshall), and the entire newspaper’s team. Rigfort, who seems to be the most unprofessional and unqualified boss you will ever see, explains that he realized he didn’t know his son was allergic to peanuts. He says that this gave him the idea of an investigative feature: “My semester in high school”. He doesn’t give any more information and out of nowhere, he assigns Josie to it, even though he doesn’t know her name. Nothing is believable in this scene. Why would he commission a copy editor an investigation on high school students based on the fact that his own son is allergic to peanuts?
What can we learn from this ridiculous moment? Learn your colleagues’ roles and names. Also, try to find a real angle to a story, because if your cat is allergic to plants, guess what, that’s not a good reason to investigate a veterinary center.
In Trainwreck, Amy (Amy Schumer) is a men’s magazine writer who falls in love with the person she has to interview for her story, Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports doctor for famous athletes like LeBron James. They go for dinner and talk about him and his family, and he actually asks her not to put any of it in the article. She explains to him that if he wants it “off the record” he should have asked before telling her about it, which is a good journalistic move. But right after that, they get drunk and hop in a taxi together. When he wants to give the driver both their addresses she cuts him off and suggests they go back to his place. Of course, they go to his place and sleep together.
Even though Amy is a character who parties and meets a lot of guys, it’s pretty crazy that she would sleep with the person she has to interview, right after playing by the rules of “off the record”. Another absurd scene is when Amy gets drunk with a colleague, who is an intern, and who’s not even 21, and almost sleeps with him too. She’s pretty upset about it afterwards and actually didn’t know his age. Might be better to focus on guys you meet on Tinder, just to avoid any lawsuits.
What can we learn from this ridiculous moment? Don’t get drunk and sleep with your subject, or your intern. Unless he is cute. I’M KIDDING.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
This one is a trip on LSD – literally. Directed by Terry Gilliam (writer of the Monty Python movies), the film follows Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp), the king of “gonzo” journalism. He and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (Benicio del Toro) go to Las Vegas to cover a motorcycle race. Everything about the movie is confusing due to the fact that the two characters go on a ridiculous drug trip.
They are high the entire time from cocaine, LSD and other drugs whose names are too complicated to remember. We can’t help but wonder how Raoul manages to write a lengthy and complicated report while out of his mind on ether and opium?
Obviously, this movie doesn’t have one specific scene that is ridiculous. Because taking a drug trip with your lawyer while covering a motorcycle race is already absurd enough. And we can make fun of Raoul Duke all we want, but at least, he managed to finish his piece, and not do an overdose.
What can we learn from this ridiculous moment? Don’t do psychedelic drugs on the job. You won’t become very famous, get your piece published in Rolling Stone, invent a new genre of journalism, or get yourself played by Johnny Depp in a movie – because that can only happen once.