Shit, Shit, Shit.
There are a lot of ways to express hated towards Eat, Pray, Love – often in three simple words! But why is it so much fun to hate on the book and the movie?
Is it the fact that there are a billion marketing tie-ins? I mean, I don’t know that we really need the whole “Eat, Spray, Love” collection of perfumes. Actually, I really don’t know that any movie needs 400 product tie-ins, period. But, hey, I don’t hate the Harry Potter Franchise just because of that. Or the Twilight movies, or Sex and the City.
But I do get pleasure out of hating on Eat, Pray, Love. Not because I don’t like Julia Roberts, or because I don’t think it’s an enjoyable story. I do, and it is.
Is it because Elizabeth Gilbert got to undertake her incredible journey free of charge? I don’t think so. I don’t particularly resent the fact that Elizabeth Gilbert got her trip around the world paid for with the advance to write the book. I am totally in favor of free trips for people. Normally, I expect them to come as a reward for correctly guessing the price of kitchen appliances, but I suppose pitching a good book idea is about on par.
I think the thing that really bothers me is that I can’t help feeling that such a journey is just the tiniest bit self-indulgent. Elizabeth Gilbert’s life simply doesn’t seem all that bad initially. She leaves her marriage because it’s… sort of boring? She orders everything on the menu at an Italian restaurant because salads are… sort of boring? Get a grip. This is not how we respond to minor disappointments (I can hear my mother’s voice saying “if you are bored, you need to go out and exercise. Run it off.”)
But I think it’s possible I’m just being an asshole. Maybe everyone deserves to be ecstatically happy every day, and no one should settle for anything less. Certainly, if someone told me that they were trying to decide between a fun job they loved and a job they didn’t think they’d enjoy as much, where they’d do more good, I’d say go for job you think you’ll have fun at (screw being a third world doctor! Be a blogger!). A certain level of self-indulgence seems normal and healthy.
But aren’t there some things you’re supposed to toughen up and deal with? Your marriage isn’t as much fun as you expected? Tough shit, lady: you took vows. Work on it. You don’t like eating a salad for lunch every day? Fine, eat a sandwich and potato chips and log some time on the treadmill. You don’t need to order everything on the Italian menu. I think the thing that bothers me about Eat, Pray, Love is that Elizabeth Gilbert seems like she’s being rewarded for taking the easy way out. Her ex-husband still adores her. Men everywhere adore her. Wise men helpfully predict her future. But what exactly did Elizabeth do to merit her incredible good fortune? She certainly didn’t think about anybody else. As far as I can tell, the book is about her, and only her. I can’t help feeling that it’s a little too narcissistic to be truly enjoyable.
But then, maybe James Franco’s epic performance on General Hospital just spoiled me for watching him in anything else. Do you love Eat, Pray, Love?