No one likes a quitter, right? But sometimes it’s just not worth the agony of sitting through a terrible movie or trudging through a book that has lost any semblance of appeal past its cover. Or maybe you quit a TV show that jumped the shark. (We don’t blame you.) So group, what did you give up on that you’re willing to admit to in this public forum?
Bridget McManus: There are two books that I really wanted to love and support but I just couldn’t get through them.
#1 — Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel‘s truly depressing 1994 memoir subtitled “Young and Depressed in America.” I found this memoir to be tedious and extremely frustrating, and as I neared the end of the book (I stopped with only 30 pages to go) I realized I didn’t care what happened to Wurtzel and couldn’t bear to invest any more time in her self-loathing life. (As a past antidepressant user I was looking for a kindred spirit, but I found Wurtzel too unlikeable to root for.)
# 2 — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I have to admit that I’ve seen all of the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films (Swedish and American) because i think it’s important to support movies with female leads, especially queer characters. I bought the books after I watched the first film (so I knew what I was getting into) and the injustice and sexual abuse that Lisbeth Salander endures in the book was so upsetting that I found myself feeling physically ill. I couldn’t even make it halfway through Stieg Larsson‘s first book before I put it on my bookshelf and never touched it again.
Jill Guccini: In my alternate life as a literacy advocate, I adamantly tell kids to give up on books if they’re not working for them. It doesn’t help their relationship with reading, and life is too short. Yet stupidly, I often refuse to take the same advice for myself, due to a ridiculous stubbornness and an even more pointless guilt. What’s worse is that the books I want to give up on but don’t are often “masterpieces,” ones I know I’m supposed to think are important. But the more I read and the more I think they’re just stupid, the angrier I get and the more I rant in my head about how we decide what makes a “good book” or a “bad book” and then I get mad about English education and it’s a whole thing. What I’m saying is, don’t be like me, kids. Be a quitter. (Some authors that I actually have let myself give up on may or may not rhyme with Shmyodor Shmoyevsky and Shmannie Shmillard, though, and I’m not sorry about it.)
Karman Kregloe: I’ve only ever walked out on one movie: Mystery Men. Yes, I walked out on Pee Wee Herman because it was just so terrible. But it was a liberating experience in that it showed me that pulling the plug on a bad movie experience, or any terrible pop culture experience, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I have since walked out on a really boring (but billed as “revolutionary”) ballet, given up on Modern Family because it is so predictable and backwards in its representation of women, and snoozed through a classical music concert at the Hollywood Bowl (I was squished in the middle of the row, and there was still some wine left in the bottle that was going around). No regrets!
Emily Hartl: As sad as it was for me to admit this to myself, I guess I’m publicly admitting it now: I can’t get through the Sookie Stackhouse books. The first one was okay and I had prepared myself for the premature loss of Lafayette, so I thought I could deal. Word on the street was that they were fast reads and I’m a busy hairdresser with a somewhat short attention span so this seemed like a good choice. I was wrong. Some would say dead wrong. What a mess of a snooze fest!
Dara Nai: A million years ago, I got talked into going to see the horrible lesbian film The Girl. It was so bad, my then-girlfriend went out for a smoke in the middle of it and never came back. I almost walked out too, but my friends and I started heckling the screen and getting laughs. That turned out to be way more fun. Looking back now, I see the seeds of what would become my recapping style. I guess most of who I am is thanks to some Girl.
Marcie Bianco: Last night I finally got around to watching Woody Allen‘s To Rome With Love. I love Woody Allen — his films are a big reason why I’ve romanticized NYC over the years and have come to set up shop here. A few months ago I saw him and his wife/daughter on the UES and totally SQUEE’d. But there was just something stultifying about this film – I left maybe 15 minutes into it. Perhaps we can blame Rome on this one.
Grace Chu: The first season of The Real L Word. Too many things and too few things happening at once. Then someone dangled some cash in front of my nose and only then did I finish watching the season.
Ali Davis: The only religion I was raised with is Movie Geek. We spent more than one childhood visit with Dad watching black-and-white Samurai movies projected onto to the wall. To this day, I’ve never seen him give up on a movie he’s started, even when it is objectively terrible. (The Samurai movies were pretty cool, though.)
I was 30 before I walked out of a movie — it had literally never occurred to me that I could do that. Oddly enough, the movie was part of a gay and lesbian film festival. Terrible acting, and instead of the writer-director deciding on one good story, he tried to throw in ALL THE GAY THINGS RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, OH, AND THIS ONE TOO!
And I was prepared to weep inwardly and stick it out. But my friend Peter leaned over and whispered “We don’t have to be here,” and it was like a whole new world opened up. Walking out into the sunshine was so liberating.
I have also taken deliberate naps during movies I hated, but couldn’t stand up and march out of of lest I disturb the packed house/piss off my friends/ruin Christmas.
Miami Vice and Avatar, I don’t regret a thing. You want me to stay conscious, you’re going to have to come up with less stupid dialogue.
I guess I have technically given up on several books over the years, but my pride won’t let me admit it. If you ask, I’ll tell you I have plans to go back and finish every last one. And they’re all lined up there on my shelf and in my Kindle, mocking me.
I’m pretty sure part of my term in Hell will be spent finishing lame murder mysteries and nonfiction books that had fascinating blurbs but turned out to be super boring.
The Silmarillion‘s got my number too. Three false starts since fifth grade. I’m in trouble.
Heather Hogan: I left halfway through Halle Berry‘s 2004 Catwoman just shaking with rage because it was awful. I mean awful. The script, the editing, the directing, the acting, all of it. The costume. Ugh. That costume. The reason I was so upset was because I knew that after it tanked — and oh, it was going to tank — studios were going to be like, “Alas, people just won’t pay to see female-fronted superhero movies.” Which is ridiculous, of course. When Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer sucked donkey balls at the box office, studios weren’t like, “Alas, people just won’t pay to see ensemble superhero movies.” Because what people won’t pay to see is shitty movies. And Catwoman was a shitty movie. I can’t blame it for completely killing studio interest in lady hero films. 2005’s Elektra with Jennifer Garner really sealed the deal on the whole unprofitable shebang. It was just as dumb and just as unsuccessful and I’m going to cry forever that no one would let Joss Whedon make his Wonder Woman movie. It would have turned the whole trend around. (See: Avengers.)
Trish Bendix: I’m a huge fan of Susan Sontag‘s essays and journals but I couldn’t get through much of her novel The Volcano Lover. I keep it on my bookshelf like I’ll get to it someday when and if I ever run out of something to read but I know, deep down, that shit isn’t going to happen. Sorry Susan.
Lucy Hallowell: Something I gave up because it just wasn’t worth it? Dating boys.
What could you just not make it through, quitter?