rock bottom


I have a great affection for the movies that Jason Reitman has made so far. I assume that at least part of this is because his father’s movies were such an integral part of my personal pop-culture iconography as I was growing up. That being said, I think that they’re good (sometimes bordering on great) movies in their own right, regardless of who the director’s dad is. Thank You For Smoking is probably my favorite, but I’m writing tonight because of Young Adult, and the disturbing moment of clarity it induced in me. (Spoilers ahead, but incredibly inane ones.)

In Young Adult, Charlize Theron portrays a recently divorced, hard drinking, young-adult fiction author in her early thirties (? — it’s been a while, but I think that’s the ballpark), who treats people in what can most charitably be described as a “Mean Girls on meth” kind of way.

There’s a scene very early on, maybe even the opening sequence (I can’t remember) in which Charlize Theron’s character slowly wakes up from what is clearly a night of extremely heavy drinking. (Empty liquor bottles are littering the furniture around the apartment; you can practically see the clouds of ethanol effervescing off her almost embalmed-looking skin; when she picks her head up off the bed it clearly takes the last remaining bit of will she has left to even get that far; etc….)

So far, so good… the film-maker is doing a very good job of portraying what I can plainly recognize as a genuine sonofabitch of a hangover, which is pretty plainly a daily occurrence for our protagonist. But then, dear reader, things started to hit a bit too close to home…

After the character claws her way back to semi-consciousness, she grabs a 2/3’s-full 2-liter bottle of diet coke (which I think was lying half-covered next to her on the bed) and starts drinking directly from the bottle. This is no mere “sip”; she takes a good twenty-second pull before coming up for air, and it’s not until she does that the viewer is even halfway convinced that she isn’t about to just drop dead on the spot.

There are maybe a half-dozen additional shots throughout the film where you see her drinking diet-coke, and although they’re not quite as aggressive as the opening shot, its incredibly obvious each time that there is something just off about her relationship to Diet Coke.

Anyway; long-story/short — that is exactly how I drink diet coke. When I watched the first few minutes of that movie, it was like I could see my vision of the past 20 years of my life melting away in front of me. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t “quirky” or “endearing” when each time I ate dinner at a restaurant, the waiter had to refill my DC fifteen times (it was probably disturbing-bordering-on-scary.) And that it wasn’t even remotely normal that two-liter bottles of diet coke in my fridge had a half-life that could be measured in hours (using the fingers on one hand.)

Truly perplexing to me though, is that Coca Cola agreed to let Diet Coke get featured that way in the movie. Granted, it must be an incredibly small portion of the population that could even recognize that type of dc-philia as genuine addict-grade behavior, but at the very least, it was an incredibly gross way to see diet-coke consumed on-screen.


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