Film critic and essayist Orange (The Sicily Papers, 2006) situates this collection of new and previously published pieces around her thoughts on leaving “the Next Generation,” which she “had unwittingly been a part of for two decades.”
Comparing herself to her grandmother, who found cellphones the “gadget too far,” the author explores the implications of a modern life lived online. She looks at the reinvention of the dream girl typified by Marilyn Monroe as a young woman whose self-presentation is “[a]ll two-dimensional tics and self-conscious dysfunction,” a pose she derides as “a watered-down affront to iconoclasm.” Orange’s grandmother was in many ways a model for her. In the last two decades of her life, she maintained a fully engaged, modern life as a film critic in her own right, although her reviews were written on ticket stubs that she shared with the author. Films, writes Orange, also take on a new aspect today as people share clips from YouTube, and fiction and reality often meld together. She gives as an example what happened after Whitney Houston's death, when “clips of old performances” and shots of her looking “disheveled, even wild,” were viewed together. Film and life blend as people become the stars of their own life sagas through postings on Facebook and blogs and other online forums. “Networks like Facebook, Flickr, DailyBooth, and Instagram have forged a new standard for social realism,” Orange writes, “and though they are designed to promote individuality, what jumps out immediately is the organized, ticky-tacky sameness of the profiles.” In the last, autobiographical essay, the author explains how running has helped structure her life. Other topics include the role of the director in modern film theory, a trip to Lebanon, brain scans and lie detection.
An intriguingly different take on today's culture.