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An Open Letter to the Guy Wondering If He Should Buy a 'Drive' Jacket

By Angie Han | Miscellaneous | March 11, 2016 |

By Angie Han | Miscellaneous | March 11, 2016 |

Psst. Hey, guy. Hey, you. Yeah, you. I see you, mouse hovering over the “Buy Now” button on eBay, wondering if you can pull it off. Well, I’m here to help you out, by telling you that the answer is an unequivocal no. Maybe, *maybe* if it’s Halloween, but even then, let me tell you, it is only going to work if you cover it in blood splatters like we see in the last part of the film. Because otherwise, everyone will just assume you’re the kind of guy who has a white satin jacket with yellow scorpion embroidery hanging around in your closet. And then we are back to square one.

I can tell you’re offended. “But how can you know I can’t pull it off?” you’re ready to ask indignantly. “You don’t even know what I look like! Maybe I look amazing in it. Maybe it makes my baby blues pop. Maybe it really ties my outfit together.” And that’s fair! I do not know what you look like. For all I know, you are the real Sexiest Guy Alive, People Magazine’s editorial staff be damned. In fact, just go ahead and assume that you are. Why not? It’s the internet. You can be whoever you want to be, as far as I’m concerned.

You still can’t pull it off, though.

I know this because, listen, Ryan Gosling barely pulls it off in Drive. And that’s with Ryan Gosling’s face, Ryan Gosling’s body, and Ryan Gosling’s hair, plus the aid of a super-cool soundtrack, magically flattering neon lighting, professional costume, hair, and makeup teams, and a script that makes him out to be the awesomest guy ever. Do you have all of that, prospective Drive jacket buyer? Do you have Nicolas Winding Refn following you around town, making sure he always captures your best side as you gaze thoughtfully into neon-lit Los Angeles alleyways? No? Then you don’t stand a chance of pulling it off.

The most concrete problem with the Drive jacket is that it’s inherently fussy. It’s a white satin jacket, for God’s sake. You won’t be able to eat or drink in it, lest a stray drop of coffee make its way to your collar. You won’t be able to do that essential cool-guy lean — you know, the one where you shove your hands in your pockets and prop one foot up against the wall — because that wall might dirty your jacket. You’ll have to awkwardly twist away any time anyone wearing makeup tries to give you a hug. God forbid it rain or snow, leaving unsightly watermarks on your precious outerwear. Put simply, you cannot do fucking anything in this jacket, including fucking.

That’s a huge issue, because fussiness is anathema to cool, and the whole point of this jacket — the whole point of Drive really — is that it’s cool. This film is smoky noir and ’80s action and Men With No Name and doe-eyed New Wave starlets wrapped only in bedsheets, all mashed together and triple-distilled until you’re left with a cool so pure it almost hurts to behold.* And you know what’s not cool? Fussing over that tiny beer stain on your sleeve until the hottie at the bar starts to lose interest. Also, hitting the town with an unsightly beer stain on your sleeve. Also, being the guy who decided to stay home that night because you were afraid of getting a beer stain on your sleeve. In other words, this fucking jacket.

(* Whether this is a cool so pure it actually comes back around to being profoundly uncool is a thinkpiece for another day, I think.)

And then there’s the jacket as a reflection of your taste. Drive is a solid movie. It looks and sounds like nothing else, features some incredible performances (including one from a pre-Star Wars Oscar Isaac), and makes perhaps the best use ever of Ryan Gosling’s permanent Marlon Brando impersonation. But it’s more style than substance, or maybe the style *is* the substance. In any case, the Driver isn’t so much a character as an archetype, an idea, an image. Dressing like the Driver signals less about who you are than who you aspire to be, and who wants to be a concept? Besides, it’s hard not to suspect that what you’re really saying is, “I am sophisticated enough to have seen and enjoyed an arthouse film that plebes dinged for not being enough like The Fast and the Furious.” And no one at the party wants to get stuck in a conversation with the cinephile version of The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy.

Yes, in Drive, the jacket gives Gosling’s character an air of ineffable cool. That’s because it’s a goddamn movie. Lots of things work in movies that don’t work in real life. The Avengers’ hero shots only work because you didn’t see them drip buckets of sweat in between takes. Batman looks incredible until you realize it probably takes him half an hour to strip down every time he needs to take a piss. The Driver doesn’t have to Google “how to hand wash satin” when he gets home from his ill-fated bar hop, because he is a fictional character and exists only within the 100 minutes of Refn’s movie, and also because Gosling had people on set whose jobs were to figure that shit out for him. Plus, Gosling wasn’t trying to channel Drive with the movie — he *was* Drive. The Drive jacket is not really any less costume-y than a Renaissance-style corset or a superhero cape. It just looks enough like real clothes to trick you into thinking it is.

Again, I bet I know what you’re thinking: “Fuck you, I look amazing.” Fine. It’s a free country. It’s your money. I can’t stop you from spending it on hideously impractical jackets. And good on you, honestly, for not letting weirdos on the internet dictate your sartorial choices. But if you must buy the jacket, will you do me a favor? Just please, please, please promise me you’ll at least leave the toothpick out of it.