Diablo Cody and I have much in common. We are both writers, although she won an Oscar for Juno and and Emmy for The United States of Tara, where I won a Maggie for ROCK Magazine and a Remi for Swamp Devil. We both worked as strippers in our youth, although I’m sure she did it more ironically than I did. We both had musician boyfriends named John Hunt, although hers was spelled “Jon,” which is cooler. We were both married, divorced and remarried by the age of 32. We are both insecure about our appearance, prone to ill-considered snarkiness, and fond of intoxicants, although I eventually quit intoxicating myself and that calmed down the snark some. It made the insecurity worse, though.
I note all this because Cody’s new movie, Young Adult, is about a love addict, and I identify as a love addict. Diablo Cody does not. Neither does the titular character of Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), an underachieving writer of teen novels who drinks to excess, suffers from stress-induced trichotillomania (look it up), sleeps with strangers because she can’t bear to be alone, and pursues her happily married love object because she’s convinced they are destined to be together.
It’s a classic scenario of love addiction, but Mavis is in such deep denial about her problems that I wonder if her creator is, too. Cody seems to lay all of Mavis’s bad behavior on her immaturity. Mavis is, indeed, a young adult: a grown woman who still operates like a teenager. See says things like “His kiss was transformative” and “Haven’t you seen The Graduate?” She acts like a spoiled teenager and your basic love addict certainly acts (and feels) like a sixteen-year-old with a crush. But love addiction also includes physiological phenomena like obsession, repetition compulsion and craving — all of which Mavis exhibits, none of which anyone seems to notice. Especially not her creator.
I heard a recent interview where Diablo Cody — nee Brook Busey — said she was shocked when her husband commented that Mavis is more like the real Brook than any of her other characters. Cody called it an insult. I call it a clue.
Now, I’m not saying Diablo Cody is a current or a potential love addict. I never get to decide that for anyone. Not out loud, at any rate. I’m just saying that with all the fuss people are making about Shame, the new release starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict, there should be at least a nod to the fact that there’s a movie out about a love addict, too
Oh, and it’s not a bad flick if you like dark humor. I just find it frustrating to sit through two hours of someone else’s denial.