Comfortable and Furious

Erin Brockovich

I have never liked Julia Roberts. Let me restate that: I hate Julia Roberts with as much intensity as I can muster, and even that is understating the venomous loathing I have for that woman. Some have called her the finest actress of our generation; while others have pronounced her the unquestioned champion of the box office (I could throw out The Mexican and Mary Reilly, but why spoil their star-fucking?) Whatever the case, America fawns over Julia to an unparalleled degree, obsessively investigating her career as well as her roller coaster personal life. Yet, I find her performances, at best, to be an annoying blend of irritating ticks, smug entitlement, and contemptible vanity.

She, more than anyone else I have ever seen stink up the silver screen, demands – hell, surgically extracts – loyalty, love, and devoted worship. She WILL be liked, regardless of her character, and because she is Queen Julia, all viewers are expected to fall into line. Never before (or since) has this tyrannical command be as evident as in the overrated stinker Erin Brockovich. You heard me, I said stinker. Now I enjoy Steven Soderbergh as much as the next cinephile (Traffic was a modern masterpiece), but he should be called on the carpet for inflicting this ego-driven bullshit on an unsuspecting public. I know that America loved it (over $100 million in receipts, Oscar nominations galore, including Best Picture), but I am here to put an end to all that sheep-like applause.

Erin Brockovich is contemptible for numerous reasons (pedestrian plot, clichéd rise-fall-rise of a plucky heroine, populist champion fights the big, bad corporation, etc.), but it stands as a contemporary display of excruciating horror because of Julia and Julia alone. I will not criticize the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the screenplay, for I simply do not care. If the real-life Erin is even 1% as monstrous as Julia’s portrayal, she not only deserved decades of poverty and deprivation, but every single form of cancer known to mankind (and I include rectal). Julia’s Erin has three children, has been divorced several times, and has no skills whatsoever, yet, in her egomaniacal hysteria, expects to receive preferential treatment at the office merely because she flashes her tits at every opportunity. At what about those tits?

Normally I would applaud such gratuitous displays of cleavage, but I do not abide their use for personal gain and the manipulation of men. Throw them my way for a nibble, but if they are merely an intimidation device, I would prefer you dress like the professional you claim to be. Again, dressing like a cheap whore is not in itself a bad thing, but unless you are bedding upper management for favors on the job, it is only narcissism that influences her decision. She struts, insults those less charmed physically (a predictable form of retort for an individual with a body but no brain to speak of), and expects the world entire to bow to her self-described greatness.

The film does take great pains to show the long hours, endless drives in the California desert, and time away from her soon-to-be drug addicted latchkey children, but I’m still at a loss to see how Erin’s “job” is anything more than acting as a shoulder to cry on or a warm body at which to direct frustration. Does she deserve millions of dollars in compensation for driving out to victims’ houses and merely listening? The film, in one of its numerous attempts to set Erin in opposition to another less personable individual, shows a buttoned-up woman (hair in a bun, overtly humorless) attempting to collect information as she fills in for a sick Erin.

The trash she goes and visits receive this new woman with coldness and contempt, even stating that she threw her education around like it was something to be proud of. Well, isn’t it? Is it so outrageous to expect that a law firm employs educated, competent professionals to do their bidding? But the film asks if we sympathize with good ol’ Erin because, simply, she’s “one of us.” The message? Bullying, shrill screams, and patent irresponsibility (as when she leaves work for days without informing anyone) are to be ignored if one is sufficiently driven. Talent, intellect, and perhaps (!) a simple understanding of the law are mere trifles; she’s Julia Fucking Roberts and she always gets what she wants (in real-life as well, after stealing another woman’s husband. Again).

Still, we embraced Erin Brockovich because being an unrepentant bitch, cunt, and dime-store hooker is less important than being sexually alluring and plucky. While I do not care much for Julia’s appearance (she has always been rather dull in my book), most men respond with drool and stiff erections in her presence. This might explain why men are seeing her films as well, in addition to the millions of women who find something “empowering” about her characters. I disliked the film before the resulting hype, but only after several viewings on cable in recent months have I truly grasped the evil inherent in this film. A life spent sucking the cocks of beastly men, failing to provide adequately for one’s children, and having contempt for all rules and regulations that create personal inconvenience – this film leads us to believe that in spite of all that, one can secure a vast fortune. We too can verbally abuse our boss and maintain our jobs!

We too can bring corporate America to its knees with crass behavior, crudeness, long legs, and a great rack. And aren’t her comebacks something special? Never in my life have I heard a script so obviously tailored to elicit audience laughter. I could almost hear the rim-shots. No one on earth speaks like this, let alone an uneducated piece of white trash. It is doubtful that a lifelong loser would be this verbally adept, unless of course one has secured the direction of a top-notch screenwriter.

In sum, fuck this movie. Fuck the Academy members who sanctioned it by awarding someone like Julia Roberts an Oscar, and an additional fuck you for pairing this with Traffic to make Academy history with a double Best Director nomination for Soderbergh. From her sense of entitlement to her insistence on Triumph of the Will-like worship, Julia Roberts is living proof that the devil himself is indeed exchanging fame for souls, and no one has benefited from this Faustian bargain more than her.