Matt Forney
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Life Imitates Art; or, Adventureland and Kristen Stewart as Homewrecking Slut

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I ordinarily give about as much thought to celebrity gossip as I do to piles of dog shit on the sidewalk (i.e. none), but a couple of articles from Heartiste and W.F. Price on Kristen Stewart cheating on her boyfriend with the director of her latest movie piqued my interest. I was a bit surprised that neither of them mentioned that this scenario has already played out… in fiction, in the 2009 movie Adventureland, though that’s probably because neither of them have seen it.

Adventureland holds the distinction of being one of only two movies (the other being Watchmen) that made me physically ill when I first saw it. Whereas Watchmen left me drained and depressed, like my soul had been raped, Adventureland made me angry. I literally left the theater with my fists clenched and my teeth grinding, my date looking at me like I was nuts. This was around the time I was starting to digest the red pill, a transformation that made it impossible for me to watch the movie without wanting to break something.

Adventureland is one of the most offensively subversive blue pill movies I’ve ever seen.

The movie stars Jesse Eisenberg (best known for playing Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network) as James, a virginal, dweeby college grad who takes a summer job at a theme park so he can pay for grad school. While there, he develops a crush on one of his co-workers, the sweet and coy teen Em (Kristen Stewart), and the two start dating; holding hands under the moonlight, playing carnival games, the usual sweet chaste stuff. It’s a perfect setup if you ignore the fact that Em is banging another guy behind his back: Mike Connell (Ryan Reynolds), the park’s head maintenance guy. Even better, Connell is not only in his thirties, he’s married. And naturally, he’s everything James isn’t; assertive, cocky and dominating when James is meek, timid and nebbish. Indeed, there’s actually a scene where Connell gives James advice on picking up girls.

There’s one scene early in the movie that’s seared into my mind. After a night of innocent fun, James drops Em off at her place without having gotten so much as a goodnight kiss, Em having told him that she wants to “take it slow.” After James leaves, Connell shows up and immediately starts making out with Em, barely even talking to her.

You can practically hold a list of manosphere tropes in your hands while watching Adventureland and check them off, one by one.

Naturally, the entire arrangement blows up in Em’s face; James eventually learns that she’s tooling him and leaves her, while Connell’s wife does the same to him. James tells the whole thing to Lisa P., another co-worker with a thing for him (plus the actress who plays her is way hotter than Stewart), and she proceeds to tell everyone at work. Publicly pilloried as a slut and homewrecker (Adventureland takes place in the eighties, when slut-shaming was still a thing), Em quits out of shame and moves back to New York.

So far, so good. So what made me come close to Hulking out?

After James learns about Lisa P.’s slut-shaming of Em, he curses her out, then gets drunk and crashes his dad’s car into a tree. His parents make him pay for repairs, leaving him too poor to afford grad school. James then decides to go to New York to pursue Em. He tracks her down to her apartment and they fuck like wild rabbits make love.

Yes, you read that right. This guy spent the entire movie being played for a fool by this whore, lied to and used as an emotional tampon while she sucked the dick of a married guy ten years older than her… and he took her back.

And it’s not like there’s some clever postmodern meta-commentary here: the movie clearly wants us to root for James and Em, when the latter is a lying slag and the former is a beta doofus. I’ve got nothing against sluts, but lying, cheating sluts? That’s a felony in my book. I personally would have ridden off into the sunset to smoke a blunt with Lisa P., but what do I know? This blog has nothing but “hatemongering” against women.

I tried explaining this to my date on the taxi ride back. She didn’t get it and she thought the movie was hilarious, so you can pretty much guess that it didn’t work out between us.

What’s infuriating about Adventureland is that the movie is actually pretty good. Although it’s advertised as being directed by the same guy who did Superbad, it’s not half as raunchy due to its PG-13 rating; nonetheless, the writing is smart and funny and the performances are stellar, particularly Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in supporting roles (though this was before Wiig had worn out her welcome; she plays the exact same character in every movie/TV show she’s been in). If the movie had sucked outright, I likely could have dismissed it; because it’s decent, its subversiveness is all the more angering.

So far, the Stewart-Pattinson-Sanders love triangle has mirrored Adventureland’s plot so closely it’s eerie. The only thing we don’t have is Pattinson taking Stewart back. Price writes:

Well, think about how this will play out. Pattinson is young enough that this will eventually be forgotten, but in the meanwhile he’s going to pay for it. Older, higher-status men taking women from their younger boyfriends/husbands is nothing new, and quite frankly it’s often how they put up-and-coming young men in their place. Nobody really feels sorry for a chump whose woman cheated on him — they tend to laugh at him. It’s unfortunate, but it seems to be human nature.

Exactamundo. Men should have a zero tolerance policy for cheating; the minute she fools around with another guy, she’s out the door, gone, dead to you. All the liberal, beta-boy, “non-judgmental” propaganda in the world can’t wash away basic human psychology.

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