Friday, January 17, 2014

Is You've Got Mail the Most Outdated 90s Movie?

I watched You've Got Mail the other day because I saw that it was on Amazon Prime and thus couldn't not watch it. As I was watching the movie, I was overcome with an intense feeling of nostalgia, and not the good kind like when you remember fondly the days you used to wear stirrup pants. It was the bad kind of nostalgia because it was a longing for something I never actually got to experience.

 Image via IMDB

The Romance of NYC
When I was a kid, I watched movie after movie featuring quirky heroines (usually Meg Ryan) falling in love with Tom Hanks-types (usually played by Tom Hanks) against the idyllic backdrop of NYC. They wore roomy pantsuits and sensible sweater sets, exchanged witty musings about city life, and dwelled in enormous apartments with walls of built-ins, despite their part-time jobs. Oh, and there was always jazz music playing.


I often talk about my childish assumptions that this would someday be my life too, and how I ended up living in Wisconsin instead, but re-watching these rom-coms of yore just adds salt to the wound. Also, I visited New York last year and there were too many people and garbage everywhere and it was nothing like the movies. And you'd figuratively have to be a Kardashian to afford housing there. So I'm grieving the loss of something I never truly got to have, which is basically Meg Ryan's life.

 Image via Hey Natalie Jean
If I lived in NYC, I'd sit on benches all the time.

Internet Anonymity
The movie also reminded me how much the world has changed in the 15 years since its release. For instance, when's the last time you went online and spilled your guts to a complete stranger? You can't because you have to log in to everything with your Facebook account, and even if you don't have to, people have black magic/voodoo they use for discovering your IP address and therefore identity. This article opened my eyes to just how nonexistent internet anonymity is. (And in the context of the article, obviously that's a good thing. If you don't have 3 hours ahead of you to read the whole thing, I'm referring to the fact that the cops can find and prosecute anonymous twitter users who tweet death threats. Which is obviously preferable to internet anonymity.)

 Screenshot via YouTube

Now, thanks to Zuckerberg, my days of IMDB forum trolling are over. Yes, I was literally an internet troll back in the day, but only on IMDB, specifically the Harry Potter forums. I'm ashamed. Today, I would never be an internet troll, no matter how badly I want to fit in on YouTube, because Big Brother is watching.

Email and Chat Rooms
AOL is on life support, dial-up can't possibly still exist, and "you've got mail" should be added to the list of things said by nobody ever. Nowadays, I barely know anyone's email address and I feel awkward emailing someone in case they don't actually check their account anymore. Texting and Facebook messaging have almost replaced email, which is being kept alive almost solely by businesses and marketing emails--if it weren't for inter-office communication and Groupon, I'd never need an email address either. In the movie, Meg and Tom communicate via email and the occasional IM after meeting in a chat room. Today, anyone you meet in a chat room is either a rapist or Chris Hansen.

Screenshot via YouTube

Book Stores
The main tension in the film is that Tom Hanks's big box book store, basically Borders, is threatening to put Meg Ryan's independent book shop out of business. The sad truth in 2014 is that both book shops have gone the way of the dodo, the rent-controlled apartment, and Meg Ryan's career/face. Seriously, what happened to Waldenbooks and Crown Books? What will become of Barnes and Noble? Why doesn't anyone read real books anymore?? I should stop; I'm starting to sound like Meg Ryan's boyfriend, played by Greg Kinnear. He literally brings home a new typewriter during the movie and fawns over the "new technology." Today, his character would be one of those annoying old people who says things like "the tweeter" and wonders why things can't be "like they used to be."

But seriously, why can't they? I would like to live in a rent-controlled Manhattan apartment with Meg Ryan's hair please and thank you.

11 comments:

  1. Also, everyone's email address back in the day was like shopgirl77@aol.com or NYCboy42@hotmail.com. Nowadays, everyone's email address is firstname.lastname@gmail.com. You can't lead a life of intrigue with that email address!

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    1. Yeah I miss the days of having a Charmed themed email address. People thought I was Alyssa Milano probably.

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  2. Yeah, Molly's right with that one! I used to have a "cool" email address, but then everyone went nuts saying oh you have to have a PROFESSIONAL email address or people won't take you SERIOUSLY and now all the addresses are boring.

    I still expect NYC to be exactly like it was on Friends if I ever someday get to go there.

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    1. I walked by the friends apartment when I was there and there was a huge crowd of people taking photos. It was kind of depressing.

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  3. I still have the hotmail address I made when I was 16 (14yrs ago) - it is awkward giving it to people!

    Karisa - I'm dying to know who you were on IMDB, I spent a lot of time on the HP boards! Please tell me you were 'eidnoreid' !!!

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    1. I don't even remember what my screen name was! Probably something with Angelina Johnson in the name. She was my fave haha

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    2. there was a delusional girl/troll called "eidnoreid" who was bonkers about how PoA & director Cuaron ruined Harry Potter. I was hoping you were the one behind the curtain!

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  4. I remember how magical the "You've got mail!" used to be when I turned on the computer. I still kinda miss the little mailbox. And I have the movie on a rack on the back of the bedroom door, just in case.
    I enjoyed your blog and look forward to reading more.

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    1. I never even had AOL so I can't miss it. When I was in jr high everyone else had it but we had cable instead of dial up which was actually better, but I felt so uncool for being different!

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  5. This movie always made me sad that I wasn't cool enough to have AOL and therefore my email didn't say fun things when I opened it. I wasn't cool for many reasons, but not having AOL was not one of them.

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  6. Watched too b/c on Amazon Prime. Enjoyed your post! Couldn't BELIEVE how much things have changed in the last 18 years. It's interesting that the anonymity is gone (mostly for good...but still, that intrigue was nice at times).

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