So today I’m thinking about the importance of a shiny surface, for a couple of reasons. The cool one is that I got my first peek at my cover art (it’s so awesome!). The embarrassing one is that I was watching The Celebrity Apprentice last night, and Miss Universe finally got fired. (I’d like to blame my roommate for making me watch this show, but the truth is, she just got me to watch the first one. I’ve been a willing participant in the reality TV time suck ever since). So for those who only watch fancy shows like Downton Abbey or something, this Miss Universe person was pretty thick. On the final challenge she asked the musicians composing a commercial jingle to make it more “yellow or pink.” For weeks on end, she’s sat in Trump’s boardroom* and rocked some truly impressive cheekbones and the air of a wounded yet confused baby animal. Though she had a charming way of murdering the English language (she’s from Venezuela) she pouted when she didn’t get to be the announcer or the MC on a challenge. She only wanted, she said, to give one hundred and ten percent (proving that the U.S. is not the only nation to fail utterly at teaching young people what a percent actually is). This whole pretty/victim thing worked for her while a lot of seemingly (much) smarter and more talented people got canned.
That girl is going far on the strength of a very shiny surface, which I guess is nothing new. I was on about Pride and Prejudice last time, and even in that world, Lizzie at first preferred Wickham because he was handsome and engaging. Young lasses in today’s romances don’t fare much better. In fact, I’d argue, some of them are making out much worse. That’s right, I said it. Two hundred-plus years on, we’re now dealing with Bella Swan and her obsession with her 104-year old boyfriend (husband, stalker…semantics). That’s right, he’s so old, I don’t even have to spell out his age. Shouldn’t this be, I don’t know, disgusting?
But wait, he looks like a seventeen year old. So it’s all cool.
Or is it? I mean, think about it. He’s a hundred. And four. All of him is that old, no matter what he looks like. And oddly enough, I don’t know if there’s ever been a romantic hero who had a more old fart fuddy-duddy personality than Edward Cullen. “Oh, do stop ravishing me. Alas, my virtue! Please stop fondling me now so that I may continue reciting Shakespeare and listening to Debussey with my eyes closed!”
That girl’s in love with a fogey, and no mistake. What about Bella’s TV spawn, Elena from The Vampire Diaries? She’s got the hots for two majorly old dudes, though in fairness only one of them has the soul of an old fart. The other one, Damon, looks great (he also looks thirty five, but that’s a whole other issue). But he’s a stone-cold killer—and not just in a vampires-have-to-eat sort of way. He’s got this habit of ripping people’s actual hearts out. But he’s handsome as hell, and he loves at least one person, so we root for him. At least these dudes don’t sparkle in sunlight.
Of course, there are a lot of other books out there about smart girls who are just everyday pretty or even almost-plain, smart girls who read books and have ideas, written by slightly older girls of similar physiognomy and inclination. And then we have the ass-kicking girls, but that’s a story for another time.
Sometimes we have inspiring book girls that lose a little something in the translation to the screen. Hermione muddled through the first few years at Hogwarts with frizzy hair and buck teeth, but when she showed up at the multiplex, she was a future Burberry model. And consider, for many young ladies, as I lamented last time, the movie version is the only iteration of Hermione Granger that they will ever get to see. But, at least Hermione was in an age-appropriate relationship with a boy who looked—and acted—like a young guy.
Hooray for Ron Weasley. He may be a bit of a git sometimes, but at least he’s not a hundred.
*If I ever make it really big, I mean, like I marry an oil baron or accidentally discover the next Facebook or something, I’m going to be just like Donald Trump and employ someone, full time, to sit outside my office with nothing but a tiny notebook and gold pen, and she will not be allowed to do anything but doodle all day long, just in case an important call comes in for me, or I feel like summoning someone without delay. She will have fancy gold scissors as well, in case of a cutting emergency.