Everyone’s lonely. The difference is just the degree of loneliness. Even the man among us with the richest social life--which is probably me--is lonely. So very fucking, soul-suckingly alone.
I know it’s me because I compare my social life to that of everyone I meet, and I know everyone. The cashier at the 7-Eleven ain’t got shit on me. He has to sell phone cables to junkies at 1 a.m. The security guard at Big Lots has nothing better to do than run after me because he thinks I stuffed Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls down my pants. I didn’t; they were Nutty Bars, which feel exquisite against your nutsack when they melt. Chipper burned down his trailer in the Inspiration Valley mobile home park off Sheridan trying to kill a spider. And you know what? He was alone when he did it. Also high on crack. The Harelip? She put a kiddie pool in the back of her station wagon and has a mobile dog grooming business now. She also lets the big ones hump her. Five bucks to watch. Yet I can't help but suspect she feels pangs of sorrow when she has a doberman schlong up her ass.
None of them have what I have. They don’t watch as much Love Boat on MeTV, have their own karaoke machine stolen from a poorly-attended quinceanera in Wolff Park, know where the convenience stores throw out the unread porn mags are, or are on a first-name basis with as many geese as me. Yet with all that going on, sometimes, usually around six in the morning, I wake up in a cold sweat, afraid and alone, Mrs. Filthy already in the kitchen frying up her bacon, eggs, Spam, hash browns and waffles. I sit up and I wonder what it all means, whether my existence matters at all to anyone.
Oh, don’t worry about me, I always fall back to sleep. But with 7.5 billion people on this planet, it’s silly for us to think we make a difference. Fuck, probably only about fifty or sixty do, and most of them are in China and know kung fu. The rest of us are detritus, scum, hangers-on or tools at the disposal of those fifty or sixty. So, sure, we’re lonely and we’re sad, and we’re amazed at how little we actually do or matter. That’s only because we’ve set the bar so damn high. Lower the bar, accept your insignificance, and don’t ever think you need to clean the rain gutters before catching reruns of The Bachelor. In fifty years, nobody will give a shit, unless your rain gutter gets so clogged it collapses and crushes the next Bruce Lee.
Wilson, a low-budget dramedy starring Woody Harrelson, and based on a Daniel Clowes comic book is about a lonely guy. Wilson’s probably about 50 or so, lives alone in a little apartment and craves companionship, significance, connection to other humans. The movie makes this clear ad nauseum. The movie won’t fucking shut up about it. Basically, it is a series of vignettes that ramble toward either a punchline or a point and coming up short. But every fucking one of them tells us Wilson is lonely.
Wilson’s father dies without giving him affirmation, his best friend leaves town, and Wilson suddenly finds himself without human contact. He delves into his past, finds his ex-wife and then finds out he has a child who was given up for adoption. He stalks his teen daughter and tries to get her to like him, for her to need him. He fails.
Wilson is a loser. He’s fucking annoying. He has no insight on the world. I know that for a fact because the idiotic seventy-year-old woman sitting in front of me in the theater said, “That’s right” every time he bellyached about computers and cell phones. He does that a lot. So, I was basically paying twelve bucks to have an asshole on screen say exactly what the asshole lady in front of me was thinking.
By the way, I have no problem telling teenagers at the movies to shut up, and yet I chicken out when it’s an old person. This lady wouldn't fucking shut up, and I said nothing. Why? It makes no sense because teenagers are strong and fast and might jump you in the parking lot later. Old people, not so much. Maybe I have a death wish.
Wilson is a bad movie. It looks cheap: there is a scene in a pet store that takes place against a backdrop of "tropical fish" that are actually just pictures of fish tanks. The movie takes way too long to say too little and it has a bullshit redemption at the end that feels faker than the tits from a strip mall plastic surgeon. The real problem, though, is that it’s only about a character being lonely. There is no wisdom imparted, and the attempts at humor are either lazy slapstick or incomplete.
Every movie—fuck, every story-- is in some way about loneliness. It’s just that better movies wrap the loneliness inside a story, blanket it with something to engage an audience, give us a reason to care enough about the characters that we don't them to be lonely. Wilson does the opposite. It’s loneliness smothering a feeble story, like a thalidomide baby wrapped in a serape of self-pity. If I wanted someone not to be lonely for no good reason, it would be me.
It’s the ultimate in arrogance for writer Daniel Clowes to think that his brand of loneliness is somehow better, more important or more entertaining. That he thinks what he has to say about loneliness is unique mean he's so far up his own ass that he hasn’t bothered to notice that everyone around him already has a pretty God damn good grasp on what loneliness feels like.
Wilson, the movie, is clueless. It’s the oblivious old man who tells cashiers how long he served in the army, the grandmother who shows waitresses pictures of her grandchildren and the middle-aged man who polishes the fuck out of a 1956 Chevy just so he can take it to car shows sit nearby so he can to hear people say it looks pretty.
I don’t want to spend 100 minutes with any of those people. I’ve got my own loneliness, thank you. Besides, there are new geese to name. Two Fingers.