A/N: I thought I would switch it up a bit and remind all of you beautiful and strong girls that no boy should determine your self worth and your happiness. You are a god damn queen and it’s about time you believed it!
You were always the good girl type. The girl that finished her homework before it was due, did extra credit, and went to sleep at a reasonable hour. You’d never been seen at a rowdy party, and you’d never be caught in any clothing that was above your knee and tight. But that was all about to change. You see, you were KNOWN for being a good girl. And that’s what made you so irresistible to Grayson Dolan, the schools one and only womanizer. He’d walk down the halls and everyone would pretty much drop to his feet like he owned the school. Every single girl had either slept with him, or wanted too, and all the guys either wanted to be him, or were his friends. He was hated by no one, well, that was until you. You’d never paid much attention to high school drama, or boys in general, until Grayson had stumbled into the library one late afternoon and caught your eye. He’d pulled all his smooth words and every trick under the sun and within weeks you were wrapped around his pinky finger, all your senses knocked out of your head and replaced with puppy dog love. Unlike most girls, he took his time with you and became quiet the gentlemen. He brought you flowers when you had a bad day, took you on the cutest dates, constantly taking photos of you when you weren’t looking and posting them up on instagram for the world to see. Everyone, and I mean everyone, was convinced that you had changed him. So after a couple of months, you found yourself starting to change. He was drilling into your head how beautiful you were and how you shouldn’t hide behind this shell anymore, and you started to believe it. You were going to parties with him and you were taking more risks with your life, but you never let your school work suffer from your decisions. You had multiple girls try to convince you that he was nothing but bad news, but you shrugged it off and said that they were just jealous that he had changed and chosen you. He was the one. Or so you thought.
It was the Friday that had just passed that you and Grayson went to a rager of a party that was held at one of his friends place. You rocked up and you could tell from the second that you hoped out of the car that this was going to be messy. Grayson’s car was shaking from the vibrations from the bass, and there were various teenagers already passed out on the lawn with items of clothes missing, as others tagged their bodies with permanent marker. Grayson looped his arm around your shoulders as the two of you entered the crowded house, almost everyone shouting their hello’s and handing the two of you drinks. You’d gotten used to being popular, which took a bit of adjusting too considering that months ago, no one knew your name. After a couple of hours, you were in the kitchen with Ethan and a few of your ‘friends’, drinking and speaking about the latest football match and how Ethan had won the game with the last try. “Where’s Grayson?” you asked around, the nerves starting to build up in your stomach. He said he was going to the toilet almost half an hour ago, and you’d just assumed that there was a line up for the bathroom, but it shouldn’t have taken this long. “Oh he’s probably just speaking to someone Y/N. Just stay here with me. I’m sure he will return” Ethan said, well, begged, which you thought was a bit odd. “No I’m going to go find him” you muttered, as you started to walk away but Ethan grabbed you tightly by the forearm and gave you a look. And you knew, from that look, that something was wrong. You almost ran to the second floor of the house and immediately started searching every single room to find out where he was, and after the second room, you found him tangled up in some sheets with a girl who’s name you didn’t know. He jumped to his feet and started to run after you, screaming out your name and how he was sorry, and for a second you almost believed it, but you had forgotten who he was. Grayson Dolan. As previously stated, the schools own personal womanizer. So that’s why you’re here, right now, standing in front of the mirror analysing your reflection as if it was someone else. It’s currently Monday, and after Friday night, you’d turned your phone off. It was ringing off the hook from Grayson to Ethan, to random girls who you don’t know how they’d gotten your number in the first place, telling you how sorry they were to hear what happened. Everyone was expecting you to be broken, to be a mess, to be weak. But Grayson had taught you one thing, and one thing that you would never forget. You were a god damn queen.
Saturday, you drove almost an hour to get out of your hometown and went to a mall where nobody knew your name. You’d spent almost all of your saved up cash, and you’d completely reinvented yourself. Your once sweet and dull hair was now flaming red, with almost blonde tips, and your once ‘good girl’ wardrobe was something no one was going to expect. You were going to be Grayson’s worse nightmare. You, Y/N, were going to be the female version of Grayson, because like hell you’re going to let him win. You did a final twirl in the mirror before you smiled with pride. You were wearing a black, tight crop top singlet, with a high-waisted red tartan skirt with ripped stockings and a leather jacket. Your shoes were high-heeled chunky boots and you had on killer sunglasses to pull of the whole thing. You looked like a total queen badass and you were going to prove it to everyone, that no one should mess with you. You pulled up to school with your music blaring and your tires screeching. You got out of your car as everyones head’s turned trying to figure out who the ‘new girl’ was. Looking over in the corner of the parking lot, you saw the usual clique; Grayson and all of his football mates leaning against his car as they eyes you up and down. You took off your glasses and winked in their direction before shouting ‘hey boys’ and walking inside. The second you walked into the schools hallways, the voices all started whispering. It was like the scene out of Easy A and you were loving it. In almost record time you heard your name shouted out by Grayson as he ran down the hall to catch up to you. You spun slowly on your heels and eyed him up and down in all of his cheater like glory. “Are you okay?” he said, puffing. “Oh, I’m great. How are you babe” you smirked, tracing your finger down his chest seductively. “Confused. This isn’t you” he snapped, as his eyes shifted around to the swarming bodies trying to get front row seats to the latest drama. “Oh but it is” you winked, before you turned back to your locker and put all of your things in there. “The girl I knew wouldn’t wear something like that” he hissed. You slammed the locker shut and turned back, taking a step closer to him as he took one back, obviously intimidated. “The girl you knew thought that you were a decent guy. The girl you knew loved you. But this girl? This version of me? Honey, this mascara is way to expensive to cry over pathetic, egotistical and insecure boy like you. See how I said boy? Because you’re far from a man. You had to realise that at some point in time someone would see through your bullshit act and realise that you are the weakest one of all. You sleep around with girls and play with people’s minds because deep deep down you’re still a little boy screaming out for attention because mummy and daddy never loved you that much did they? So how about you take a step away from me and back off because I surely don’t need the likes of you anywhere near me” you smiled as you flicked your hair over your shoulder and walked right past him like he never existed. “Oh and one last thing Grayson? I can have anyone I want too, it’s not that hard” you smiled widely as you pushed his brother Ethan up against the locker swiftly and kissed him recklessly. The whole crowd gasped and within no time Ethan’s hands were gripping your hips and your ass and moaning your name between his lips, as you messed up his hair with your long nails. You pulled away and stared into his deep, and lustful eyes as he smiled a goofy smile, one that in a different world, you probably could have loved. You glanced back at Grayson as his jaw was slacked and his eyes wide. “You should have never messed with me babe, because I’m about to become your worst nightmare”
Perfection is a game he knows how to play so well. Perfection is nothing but an idealistic standard that’s near impossible to reach. He’s reached it. He’s surpassed it. The world doesn’t know what to do with him. The way he walks, he talks, and acts. He’s golden. I can watch him him all day, it doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He just does it all so well. He is the game itself, and I struggle just to keep up playing.
I looked up from the food in front of me, and he’s smiling. I can feel my cheeks heating in embarrassment, and I can’t help but let my smile grow as he grins. He’s charming, and I wonder how the hell he’s chosen me, out of all the girls in the world, it’s me.
“Sorry, I zoned out.” “You good, baby?”
The words are like silk, soft and smooth, it’s natural and he says it so well. I take care to nod, I make a mental note to ask him how his trip was, because while he was away from Grayson, he was also away from me.
“So, how’s class?”
The question etches a frown to my lips and I don’t mean to, but it makes him frown too, and he’s looking at me, waiting. I stare at my pancakes, thinking of class and as if on a cue, the stress and anxiety creep it’s way to the surface of my body, and I’m reliving the stress despite not having a need to.
“Y/N, forget I asked.” “Sorry, it’s just that, finals are coming up, and I haven’t heard back from any of the colleges, and financially, I’m so fucked, and–” “Hey, hey.. chill.. you’re good. You’re gonna be just fine babe, you’ll be okay.”
I take a deep breath, and he follows. I can’t help but smile, he grins like the perfect guy he is, kissing my lips gently in the process, letting his smile disappear for a second before he’s grinning again. It’s contagious because now, I’m happy again. The universe has granted him the rare ability of contagious laughter and smiling.
“How was your trip?” “It was.. something.”
He laughs, my heart flutters at the sound of it. It’s like music to my ears, and to see him happy is an indescribable piece of art. He deserves the world, and if I can grant it, I will, in a heartbeat. His hand finds mine as he intertwines our fingers. He kisses my knuckles and I listen to him talk, about anything and everything. He talks about yesterday, and the few days before that. He talks about politics, and his beliefs. He talks about random things, like how bees die when they sting people. And then, he’s talking about us, and the look in his eyes when he does, it makes me fall in love with him all over again.
“I love you.”
I stare at him with wide eyes, and he’s just as shocked. I pull my hands away, nearly slapping myself in the face as I cover my mouth. His lips are in a tight ‘o’ shape and I want the ground to swallow me whole. I cringe, hanging my head. He laughs softly, and he gently grabs my chin, forcing me to look him in the eyes. I want to hide, but his look tells me not to. He’s not laughing, instead, he has a gentle smile on his lips, and his eyes are soft, the light in his eyes unwavering.
“I love you.”
He grins. My heart is racing as fast as hummingbird wings and I’m positive he can hear it. He squeezes my hand gently as we continue with breakfast, both with shit eating grins on our faces. My heart feels light, with this perfect person beside me and the silence is comfortable. We steal glances at each other, laughing lightly when we catch each other only to do it again.
“Ethan?” “Yeah?” “You’re perfect. No matter what, don’t change.”
He looks shocked, and stared at me for a couple seconds before allowing his smile to take over once more. He nods, leaning over as our lips meet in a sweet kiss, I can taste the syrup on his lips, and not even the little girl screaming to her mother about us can break our kiss.
“What the hell have I done to deserve you?”
He questions. I laughed, shaking my head as I place a kiss to his lips once more before taking a bite of my fruit salad.
“I was just thinking the same thing.” “Oh, really?”
He tests. I nodded as we both finished our food. We got up, continuing our day at the beach. It doesn’t take long for the sun to pass us over, and soon enough, I can see the sun beginning to set on the horizon. I spot Ethan amidst the waves, his chiseled body easily distinguishable. While I seemingly look like a potato, Ethan Grant Dolan is something made by the Gods.
The waves crash over, taking him with the flow. Once it gets dark, and our part of the beach is empty, he finds his way back to me. I sit up a bit taller, handing him his towel and he takes his spot between my legs. I wrapped my arms around him, as he turns and kisses my shoulder.
“You’re beautiful.” “You’re handsome.” “Remember when we met?” “How can I forget?”
I questioned. He shrugged slightly, grinning as he leaned against me.
“Yeah, you may not have noticed, but you made me nervous. You still do sometimes, but I think I’ve gotten better because of it. I love you, more than you know.” “I love you so much..”
I smiled, giving him a kiss. The sunlight kissed his skin perfectly, he seemed to glow, and I knew I was looking longingly, it’s near impossible to not. Where others see a YouTuber, or, at its worst, a stupid teenager, I see Ethan Dolan. My Ethan Dolan. The boy who had the balls to come up to me while I sat by myself. The boy who makes me smile. The boy who helps me get through my days. He’s complete and utter perfection. There isn’t another on the planet for me
01. The Neon Demon - A profoundly stupid commentary on female friendship as “demonic” and “ruthless,” perpetuating the tired narrative that women are “othered” and “unknowable.” Comes to the offensive, simplistic conclusion that women cannot excel in their careers without “losing themselves” in the process. Confuses vague symbolism with depth. A better recommendation: compare the wholesome depiction of female companionship in the effortless, uplifting ending of Paul Verhoeven’s Elle.
02. Captain Fantastic - A film intensely uncritical of its protagonist’s inherent privilege and manipulation of his children. Smug and condescending, where the family “cut off” from everyday civilization to go live in the woods without modern comforts looks down upon everyone else as a joke, as though they (and they alone) have found the “true meaning” of life. No acknowledgement that their ability to up and leave to go live in the woods is a privileged ability because they have the safety nets of family/friends to return to, which is a far reality from the many underprivileged poor who view this kind of backwoods lifestyle as a burden rather than an escape. The father is also an authoritative figure rather than a hippie, free-thinking one, where his kids are completely cut off from the diversity of perspectives and opinions outside their sheltered bubble, despite their claims otherwise. This is a film paranoid about popular culture and condescending towards “everyday” people. Tries to make cute and quaint what is essentially a “Jesus Camp”-esque group. A better recommendation: Wendy and Lucy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
03. Suicide Squad - A ridiculous, grimly serious storyline. Jared Leto commits way too hard on an unimportant character who’s nothing more than the kind of greasy, unlikeable gangster types that David Ayer has depicted throughout his career (with little variation or nuance). Viola Davis in comparison never smugly made claims to “serious” method acting yet elevated whatever scene she was in with effortless acting chops. Still, nothing saves the movie. Not the assault of popular music in every single scene as a futile attempt to emulate Guardians of the Galaxy (they used cliched, recognizable music too. See: “Fortunate Son” with a shot of helicopters. Compare to the richer song selection in Guardians with tracks by Raspberries, 10cc, Redbone, and Marvin Gaye). Not the “wacky” comedy that often defers to weird, racist stereotyping (Killer Croc requesting “BET,” Diablo as a tattooed Mexican gangster like an extra from End of Watch). Bizarre plotting with a boring villain. A better recommendation: The action is better in the Captain America movies, and it’s good humored too.
04. Hell or High Water - Taylor Sheridan is a shit writer who has been riding on the pretense of antiheroes with “moral ambiguity” even though his conflicts of good and evil are pretty cut and dry (are they really antiheroes, then?). Lazily uses people of color as merely suffering/dying props to motivate his heroic white narratives (see also: his terrible screenplay for Sicario, which gives a safe and reductive and misleading picture of narco trafficking as a “thriller” where dead bodies are a source of spectacle rather than a real human tragedy). A better recommendation: the more honestly exploitative/campy Nocturnal Animals, Killer Joe, and Cold in July. The towering Blood Simple.
05. Hacksaw Ridge - The hack Mel Gibson continues pushing religious conservatism disguised as thrilling action, where complex themes such as Catholic redemptive suffering and guilt are rendered onscreen as pointlessly bloody violence bordering on “torture porn” like Hostel or Saw or (lmao) The Passion of the Christ. Compare to Martin Scorsese’s Silence, which uses violence sparingly but far more effectively: where Catholic suffering is a theme that raises more questions than answers and leaves the faith shook by the end of it. A better recommendation: You want a war movie that better (and poetically) reflects Christian theology and suffering? The Thin Red Line. Also, the aforementioned Silence (both the Scorsese and Shinoda adaptations).
07. Green Room - Confuses violence and gore for tension. Flimsy villain with no nuanced backstory/motivations other than “neo-Nazi.” Compare to 10 Cloverfield Lane’s antagonist, and how it draws tension through playful dialogue and maximal use of space (every single room utilized, even the spaces in the walls) instead of graphic violence. A step down from the superior Blue Ruin. A better recommendation: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Blue Ruin, (hell, even Don’t Breathe made better use of space and camerawork).
08. Assassin’s Creed - Only reveals to us that most videogame stories are incomprehensible trash with convoluted mythologies and poorly written characters. The problem isn’t that the interactivity of videogames can’t be translated to a passive medium, but that videogame stories are just bad to begin with. A better recommendation: Go play a good videogame story like Silent Hill 2, or Kentucky Route Zero, or The Last Guardian.
09. Swiss Army Man - So-called “serious” storytelling (read: we used a metaphor) undercut by juvenile humor and sappy sentimentalism. Didn’t find the right balance in tone. A better recommendation: the more absurdist and funnier humor of The Lobster or Force Majeure.
10. Krisha - Wants to provoke as a searing melodrama, but is really just a compilation of shouting matches that purports to be D R A M A. It’s pointlessly exploitative and the characters aren’t given enough personality or story to support their freakouts. A better recommendation: the still exploitative but more enjoyable films of Xavier Dolan, like Mommy.