We talk a lot about Lloyd Dobler around here. And we’re not the only ones. There’s an entire generation who love him and put him on a pedestal as The Ideal. Then, of course, there are those who revile Lloyd Dobler, who believing he’s ruined romance for the rest of us. (*cough* Chuck Klosterman *cough*) But what is it about Lloyd Dobler? Fiction is littered with better looking, smarter, more romantic fools. Why Lloyd Dobler? It’s been talked about. It’s been bounced around. I know many think Dobler plays into this Dominant Woman fantasy of a subservient, docile pretty boy who will take our abuses and still claim the only thing they want, their only ambition is to love us. Cause, you know, they’re good at it. That’s the worst kind of gender role flip, trading one domineering partner for another. But I’d really like to think better of the Dobler Devotees (me included).
And you know what I think? I think it’s because of her. I think it’s because no matter how smart Diane Court is suposed to be. No matter how pretty I think Ione Skye’s hair is. She doesn’t deserve him. And that’s not me being flip. She gave him a pen. SHE IGNORED HIS BOOMBOX SERENADE. So there it is. It’s not just that Lloyd Dobler is great. And he is. It’s that those of us watching are convinced he could do better. That we would do right by him. In fact, that we would do right by any young man who would defiantly jut his chin for us. For love. For Peter Gabriel. And maybe I feel so protective of him because I’m older now than the fictional young Lloyd. He certainly gives off a vulnerable air, all pale and somewhat consumptive looking. But even in the film his friends (the female ones anyway) mother him. And that’s not the sort of thing I usually respond to, to be honest. Usually, I’m more of a fan of the meeting of true minds. The sort of verbal sparring that populates the screwball comedies of yore. I like relationships where men and women are truly equal. But I have to admit, there’s something potent about the Dobler Effect. Something insanely compelling about trampled, tender young hearts.
Take Preston Myers (Can’t Hardly Wait) who traded Peter Gabriel for Barry Manilow. Who lavished puppy-eyed love and affection on a perfectly nice, if large haired and totally undeserving Amanda Beckett. Is this what our Preston deserves?
And poor Hal Hefner (Rocket Science) who laid himself bare over and over…
and misguided young Tom (500 Days Of Summer). You can do better, young Tom. She’s beautiful, but she’s not for you.
And little Scott Pi-NO. Wait. Not so fast, *sshole. You two deserve each other. No, I mean it.
Because oddly enough, and ideals (and Preston Myers) aside, those relationships are pretty recognizable. Summer’s not an *sshole, Tom’s not an idiot. They’re just trying their damndest. And young Hal Hefner? Well who hasn’t been trod on by some girl who looks like Anna Kendrick? And, most of all, Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers. In the most unrealistic genre of all, Edgar Wright’s heightened video game reality, you’ll find the most realistic relationship. Two damaged people, young and careless, fighting tooth and nail to hold on to each other. Screw the boombox, that’s pretty romantic. You know, if you think about it.
Joanna Robinson thinks kids these days have it easy with their fancy e-lectronics. Boomboxes are heavy, you know.