[Out-of-touch thinkpiece on millennials]

This film had a lot of good things to say about social justice and the queer community, but another element of it that interested me was its depiction of modern dating culture. Shirin has multiple romantic and sexual escapades in the film all encapsulate the hang-ups and complications our generation is confronting that most before us did not.

I’m not trying to say, “oh, millennials are awful and shameful, and we’re an evolutionary dead-end” etc. etc. Confronted with selfie cameras and Tinder, our grandparents’ generation would have probably been way more of a train-wreck. But one has to admit that technology and (relative) sexual liberation have lead us to a place where there isn’t a clear road map.

Shirin seems equally bewildered. Without a steady relationship, she bounces between encounters without any real aim or even satisfaction. After having sex with a man she meets on Tinder she only seems to feel uncomfortable; her attempted threesome ends in almost panicked flight; her relationship with an archetypal stone-faced Brooklynite only seems to frustrate her more. These events point towards a question I think many of us have asked ourselves as we transition into supposed adulthood: If you can do anything you want, how are you supposed to figure out what you actually want?

Shirin is clear about wanting Maxine back, but in lieu of that, she tries to find a suitable substitute by sampling a bit of everything. It’s something anyone could do in this new age where we aren’t required to follow the model of “chaste” dating > stable monogamous relationship > marriage with children. But when none of it pans out, both Shirin and the audience are left to wonder what, if anything, these brief connections meant – and whether they actually offered her any solace or healing.

Questions:

  • Do you think playing the dating field helped Shirin get over Maxine?
  • What do you think Akhavan wants us to take from these encounters? Is she celebrating Shirin’s freedom, or bemoaning her confusion and aimlessness?
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3 thoughts on “[Out-of-touch thinkpiece on millennials]

  1. I think the depiction of modern dating in this movie is so important to touch! Shirin’s interaction with a more internet-based dating scene is definitely cringe worthy, but so are most of her interactions with the world (s/o to her for being relatable and awkward… in more than one occasion…)

    It’s hard to say whether it was a productive way for Shirin to get over Maxine, but in my eyes I don’t think it was… productive. That isn’t a knock on Shirin though, because this seemed like a coping mechanism for her; life is meant to be full of test-trials. No one is going to get it right the first time.

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  2. I really like your point about “If you can do anything you want, how are you supposed to figure out what you actually want?” which I think is completely reflected in our generations culture. In the movie, Shirin and her family reflect this generational gap, with her parents being more traditional, her mom even going as far to ignore Shirin when she attempts to come out to her, and Shirin experimenting with different types people and different types of social situations. Her parents expect her to follow a set of ideals and structure, but this couldn’t be father from what Shirin wants or goes on to do. Her path is not a clear one and her inability to find what she “wants” highlights the fact that she most likely doesn’t know what she wants. From an outsiders perspective, Shirin and Maxime’s relationship didn’t appear to be healthy, but Shirin continues to cling to the idea that she wants to get together with Maxime throughout the movie. My questions is if she really wants to get back with Maxime or just believes she does because it reflects some sort of stability that she lacks in the other areas of her life. I think that most of Shirin’s problems come from her attempt at answering that question, “If you can do anything you want, how are you supposed to figure out what you actually want?”

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  3. I think it’s hilarious to imagine our grandparents’ generation in the modern technological social system.
    Yes, Shirin was messy. But she only seems so messy because it’s so easy for her to lay out the mess for us to see. In the modern era, people are so much more connected than we were in the past. And I don’t mean that we have more close friends. I mean that instead of looking up a strangers name in a phone book to get a number, we can look up strangers on Facebook and get a few pictures, a gender, a current city, and maybe a couple family members or a birthplace.
    I think that Akhavan isn’t celebrating Shirin’s freedom or bemoaning her confusion. I think that Shirin’s character fit into this film as a prime example of the aimlessness of youth today. There’s no longer such a set plan to follow. There’s no wealth of factory jobs or guaranteed employment for college graduates. High school sweethearts rarely make it past freshman year of college, and we as a generation are lost trying to find ourselves.
    I think Shirin is such a mess so that we can all find the messy parts of ourselves within her.

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