This week, editors Jennifer Wright and Ashley Cardiff discuss how they’d react to discovering a boyfriend’s seedy past. Also, Werner Herzog. Also, their boyfriend is Werner Herzog. They are his girlfriends. Also: bears.
Jennifer: So. Should you break up with your boyfriend if his scandalous past came to light? I’ll paint a little picture for you. Your boy comes home, you’re engaged and he says “Baby, I used to hustle for crack.” So you high five him. And then he says “once, I also killed a man in Reno.” How do you respond?
Ashley: Seems awful unlikely, Jen. Also, don’t be glib.
Jennifer: WHY IS EVERYONE ACCUSING ME OF BEING GLIB TODAY? I’M MAKING SERIOUS POINTS.
Ashley: And jokes about crack.
Jennifer: Oh, God, it’s just because I stayed up all night watching Werner Herzog’s cinematic masterpiece “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans.” Again. It’s all I watch now. I think about crack jokes all the time. Like “who’s got the kibble!?” Great joke, Nic Cage/Werner Herzog!
Ashley: I never should have you told you how excellent it was. Nicolas Cage is really at the top of his game in that.
Jennifer: I’ve been keeping a list of how many times they say “girlfriend” suspiciously. It’s like Herzog is really unclear on the concept. It’s the way a seven year old boy would say it. “So she is your…. girlfriend?”
Ashley: So, if Nicolas Cage was your boyfriend (and you were his GIRLFRIEND) and you found out he was a corrupt cop in his past, would you forgive him?
Jennifer: That seems unlikely. Nic Cage is an actor. Don’t be glib.
Ashley: But he’s prone to mania. Maybe he draws inspiration from his day-to-day life as Serious Actor Nicolas Cage so he can appear more gnarled by greed and vileness in the night (where he’s a corrupt cop).
Jennifer: Oh, wow, that makes a lot of sense. How long have Nic Cage and I been dating before I find out he’s a SUPER corrupt cop? In the past! In the past, not in the now!
Ashley: Maybe three, four years. So, you’re at that point where you’ve been living together (because you’re his GIRLFRIEND) and maybe that intensity of love has faded a bit and maybe the sex has become predictable and you’re kind of at that strange, alienating place where you have to decide to move forward or move on. And one night you open his e-mail and find he’s been frequenting some sort of Corrupt Cop web forum where he, I don’t know, talks about his favorite methods for invasive frisking.
Jennifer: The invasive frisking scene is the BEST SCENE! And one where the term “girlfriend” is used skeptically at least four times. “Yes! Watch your fucking girlfriend!” “Did your parents not buy you new back to school clothes?” While he is invasively frisking her! The dialogue is like they just all decided to put together words, and just toss them out there.
Ashley: So, okay. He’s just come in from a long night of invasive frisking, it turns out, and he’s bragging to other corrupt cops about how he’s so “frisked out right now.” Right then, he walks in the room. What do you do? (Remember: he is Nicolas Cage)
Jennifer: Okay, here’s the thing. From scene one of the cinematic masterpiece “Bad Lietenant, Port of Call, New Orleans” Nic Cage is clearly OUT OF HIS MIND. Really, the whole movie, which I understand is (hilariously) actually considered a cinematic masterpiece, is Nic Cage screaming words with a manic expression on his face and shooting ghosts. Dancing ghosts. For real. I feel like it takes me a while before becoming someone’s GIRLFRIEND and people reveal who they are pretty early on. I genuinely believe people clearly and effectively communicate who they are, even if we lie to ourselves about it because we want them to be someone else. So, if after 3 years there had been no crazy behavior and one day, over dinner my boyfriend said “I have something to tell you, sweetheart. I used to be a corrupt cop who frisked women while screaming ‘where is the kibble!?” I would say “wow, it’s really amazing how far you’ve come. Would you like a scotch?” Or, I mean, I guess that would be bad. A diet cream soda! That’s what I’d offer. Then I guess we’d talk about it rationally, and it would be the kind of thing that would bring us closer together. So, no. I think more break-ups occur because of benign neglect and boredom than things that might be perceived as earth-shattering reveals. But would I ever become corrupt cop Nic Cage’s girlfriend to begin with? No. There’s a whole scene that happens from the perspective of an alligator.
Ashley: Sometimes it takes a long time to really know a person. Sometimes you think you’re in love and then you gradually discover you’re in love with an idea of that person. Sometimes that idea is more beautiful than the real human it represents, the Nicolas Cage-shaped human who hoovers coke and threatens to pistol whip old ladies.
Jennifer: No. Really. I believe the beginning of relationships, before you’ve formed impossibly strong emotional ties, that is when you must be alert and vigilant like – I was trying to think of anyone who demonstrates those qualities in that movie, but there are no characters like that. Which is why when Nic Cage shows up frothing and screaming “cut the rock, baby!” two weeks into your relationship you say, “Ah. Bad idea.”
Ashley: Val Kilmer is pretty reasonable, like always.
Jennifer: I don’t care what’s in anyone’s past as long as it is not making them crazy in the present. I mean, I suppose you can say the past is never over, it’s hardly even passed, but… Who said that? Hemingway? Did I even quote that correctly? Faulkner! “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Jeez, I can be such an asshole. Nic Cage should probably assault me in an alley for that one.
Ashley: You’re glib. Why are you so glib? Are you even his girlfriend? His GIRLFRIEND wouldn’t be so glib.
Jennifer: Is it possibly that whatever mind-land Herzog lives in, they just don’t have the concept of girlfriends?
Ashley: Of course there are no girlfriends in Werner Herzog’s mind-land. Only the overwhelming indifference of nature. There is no hot, loyal Eva Mendes GIRLFRIEND. There is only the cold far-and-away gaze of a grizzly bear, beside whom you have lived for years and who may, at any moment, maul and eat you because this mind-land nightmare bear exists outside the realm of man and his laws. And his feebleness.
Jennifer: Okay, so I guess you should break up? With the bear? Who is your BOYFRIEND?
Ashley: No, the bear doesn’t care about your rules…. man. The bear isn’t gonna be defined by you or your labels. Stop trying to put the bear in a box!
Jennifer: Ashley, I think you need to break-up with the bear. I think it’s really important, actually.
Ashley: His indifference is overwhelming. But he’s never lied.
Jennifer: I mean, much though I’d like to believe that I’d be cool and collected when Bear sat down at my table, full of kibble, saying “I liked to frisk girls in alleyways” I don’t know that I would be. I’ve never been in that situation. I GUESS BECAUSE I DON’T TRY TO FONDLE DANGER. “Here, I differ with Treadwell. He seemed to ignore the fact that in nature there are predators. I believe the common denominator of the universe is not harmony but chaos, hostility, and murder.”
Ashley: I guess my problem isn’t in my BOYFRIEND being a secretly corrupt cop/nightmare bear, it’s that my BOYFRIEND had concealed something like that. I think the violation of trust is worse than frisking people or dwelling in a world of chaos and murder.
Jennifer: Umm, no. People don’t like to reveal things that are embarrassing. Or at least, not all at once! Totally understandable, no big deal, not affecting the present. He’s not like a ere-bear. He’s not transforming back into a bear. He’s like an alligator that evolved and now it is a camera.
Ashley: I guess then I’d shoot him. Then I’d shoot him some more, because his soul is still dancing. Which is weird because you’d think a being of chaos and overwhelming indifference wouldn’t have a soul… but you’d be wrong. His soul breakdances. Indifferently.
Jennifer: This went to a really specific and unanticipated place. Can we work in that one? You know “herzog Goes Arctic?” Wait! When I typed that in to try to remember the name, which is….
Ashley: “Werner Herzog Might Be Insane.”
Jennifer: It’s “Encounters at the End of the World.” But I found two articles that read “Werener Herzog – oddball!”
Ashley: Good SEO.
Jennifer: So we’re talking less about your bear/BOYFRIEND and more about German film directors. I think this has ended in a good place.
Ashley: I think both are admirable in their uncompromising vision.