Cosmopolitan writer has BASHED Selena Gomez‘s critically acclaimed film Spring Breakers. Director Harmony Korine is known for his cray-cray druggy art-house films, and Spring Breakers is no different. Unfortunately.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead..) I can’t imagine what it must be like to grow up like Vanessa Hudgens or Selena Gomez, where you are forced to be a Role Model to Girls Everywhere not by choice, but because your big break turned you into the kind of star who is expected to stand up for all things pure and sweet and feminine.
Can you blame them for wanting to shed that label like a winter coat and take a f*****g vacation? What twentysomething girl wouldn’t want to let loose on spring break?
‘Harmony told me that it was going to be freeing,’ Ashley Benson said, according to the production notes for the film, and any girl who has ever tried to Find Herself knows that nothing is more intoxicating than freedom.
The movie has more bongs, beer bongs, and bare breasts than any college frat party I’ve ever been to, but you could argue that there is more than a whisper of truth to this gritty excess, even when the images are uncomfortable:
A girl passed out on the floor next to a toilet filled with vomit; a lead actress writhing on the floor, soaked in beer, teasingly removing her bikini top as she slurs in a sing-song voice to the male partygoers next to her that they will never get her p***y.
UPDATED with Spring Breakers clips under!
But whatever to all of that. Spring Breakers, at 90-ish minutes, is two-thirds Girls Gone Wild-debauchery, and that is the stomach-able part. The last 30 minutes are gratuitously violent, an orgy (literally) of guns tossed around like the toys the ensemble cast used to rob a chicken shack at the movie’s onset. In matching bathing suits (there is lots of matching happening toward the end of the film, which tries very hard to be a music video) the lead actresses dance in front of a glowing Florida sunset, twirling semi-automatic riffles like batons to a Britney Spears song. (Seriously. There are two Britney songs in the movie.) Then, for reasons the movie will make you care very little about, the actresses bust into a Florida mansion and shoot everyone in it and drive away in a convertible.
As the movie climaxes, these scenes of pretty actresses in neon bikinis expertly blowing peoples’ brains out are interspersed with scenes of them looking weary and calling their moms. “I want to be a good person,” Hudgens’ character says to a voicemail. “I want to do better.” Maybe these side-by-side sequences are supposed to feel powerful, to represent the struggle we face to figure out who we are. Instead, they fall flat—so pat and stupid, like the emotionally-stunted conclusion to every LiveJournal post any of us ever wrote when we were 19.
The movie was so crappy that I started to wonder if the problem was me. Would the movie seem more likeable if the leads were male? Would it seem more entertaining—and cool, even—if Justin Bieber or Daniel Radcliffe or Zac Efron were wearing the ski masks? Taking it one step further: Should I celebrate that these roles were written for women, and give Korine a big feminist-fist-bump because—in one particularly violent scene—Vanessa Hudgens gets to burst into a diner with a squirt gun and yell like a lunatic to “get on your fucking knees?” Am I projecting my own feelings on how these starlets, who I’ve grown up rooting for, should act?
Korine will say that I am passing moral judgments on the characters when he did no such thing, to paraphrase the defense he used when his best-known film Kids was released to swarms of controversy in 1995. But there is blood on his hands. In the production notes, Korine explains: “Everyone is familiar with Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens because they have this specific image. It’s really fun for me to push them into some kind of other reality, something more sinister and insane.”
I’m not saying, exactly, that these actresses were used. I get why they wanted to make this movie.
While watching, I kept thinking about this time in college when a video leaked of a freshman girl, naked, playfully making sexual comments into a camera as a group of athletes filmed her. The guys edited the video into a montage with music and a title slide. They meant to send it just to the lacrosse team, but in a heartbeat the whole campus saw it. Mortifying. She transferred.
All twentysomething girls deserve moments of freedom. But how sad, sad, sad when they are caught on film.