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  • Writer's picturezandaleeindigo

bottoms, guts, and twenty-something teenage girls

In an unprecedented set of events, the last couple weeks have included the release of two pieces of media that have become extremely seminal in this weird transitional period I've found myself in.

Bottoms, directed by Emma Seligman came out, starring Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri (who consistently proves to be living my aspirational life). A coming of age movie about two extremely uncool lesbians, it's raunchy, hilarious, and incredibly unserious---I've seen it three times in theaters. Olivia Rodrigos sophomore album also released about a week after I'd seen Bottoms for the first time. The album shares similarities with her debut Sour but, in my opinion, is more finely crafted. Full of angst, yearning, and the ever present anxieties that come with discovering who you are.

I don't think there has been a more kismet release of two projects than these two. My first listen of Guts, I could so clearly see scenes from Bottoms that directly relate to one another. The blinding blur of having a crush Olivia describes in "bad idea right?" are prevalent in the premise of the entire movie especially in the longing gazes between Josie and Isabel, "get him back!" directly mirrors a scene in the film where the girls embark on a revenge rampage, and the angstiness of "ballad of a homeschool girl" could replace King Princess' "Pain" in the fight montage easily; though that is my favorite needle drop of the movie (yes even more than "Complicated"). Both explore feelings of constantly messing things up, and feeling like idealized goals are impossible to reach.

I'm well aware that by the time I publish this, the concept of the "twenty-something" teenage girl is seen as cringey or silly but it's a label I identify with. When I was younger, my parents would always joke that my brother and I were never "normal" kids. My whole life I've been incredibly cautious. I'm a thoughtful person. My "rebellious teen years" were spent indoors, watching movies, tv, and youtube; dreaming of the person I'd be in college. Those subsequent college years were mainly spent doing more of the same. While I managed to get out of the house a bit more, most nights after classes I passed the time holed up in my bedroom, yearning for life postgrad when I'd moved to the city and finally found my place.

I've now graduated college and spend days I'm not working my 9-5 in my basement, watching movies to escape. Imagining my life if I were doing something interesting or exciting, writing for a column like Carrie Bradshaw or cooking Michelin star meals ala The Bear. I'm only recently grappling with the fact that it feels like I'm constantly in a state of waiting for life to begin. Waiting to come of age. Or I guess more accurately trying to skip it entirely and fast forward to the point in life where I've got it all figured out (though I know we never really get there). That revelation has me on my journey of finally allowing myself to come out of my shell, to try things, experience the world and come of age as a twenty something teenage girl.

There's this feeling now, especially online, that the age to be successful is getting younger and younger. There's running jokes on Twitter about people thinking that when someone turns thirty they have one foot in the grave and that anxiety about timelines has seeped into my head from time to time. It's one reason why I think both Olivia's music and Bottoms has resonated so heavily with me. Olivia's relatability reminds me that these feelings I'm having are universal. Seeing people of all ages getting sucker punched by the same lyrics I am is comforting, it's a reminder that you never really stop growing. Similarly, the story of the creation of Bottoms has been a comfort to learn about. As I said earlier, Ayo is a huge inspiration of mine recently with her being booked in busy in some of the best projects I've seen this year. Her blow up this year and the roles she's played remind me of the doors opened by the likes of Issa Rae and Michaela Coel, awkward Black girls making space for themselves in the entertainment industry. The stories of her, Rachel, and Emma having to work normal jobs as they molded this film (and Shiva Baby) as well as their comedy careers reminds me to trust the process, put in the work, and good things will follow.

As I tried to string together coherent thoughts about these two pieces of art and my own feelings about life I realized that the main connective tissue beyond the subject matter of both is the feeling they give me when I watch/listen to them. There's a sense of emotional catharsis, both projects are bold, unique, and arresting at times. The guitars, heavy drums, and strong vocals on Guts delivers song after song that allow you to scream lyrics that express those feelings you can't always explain. The crudeness and bloody punches punctuating Bottoms allow us to delight in girls beating the shit out of horrible men (and each other) in order to gain confidence and self actualize. Both delve into some of the messier/uglier sides of girlhood/growing up that you don't always see and allow us to follow a woman of color navigating these elements in Olivia and Josie (Edebiri's character).

Simply put, these are just two pieces of media that are very Me coded and happen to go extremely well together. I couldn't miss the opportunity to rave about them both.

The people's princess :-)

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Sep 18, 2023

We're glad to hear that you are preparing for what's next. Like you said, "Do the work. Trust the process." 🙌🏾

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