The other evening I watched Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Manhattan for the first time in a long time. While watching the film, I was reminded of how badly I wanted to be a middle-aged narcissistic Jewish male as a child. Forget being the Little Mermaid or Rainbow Brite, I wanted to be a freakin’ horn-rimmed balding and big-nosed kvetch.
It should have been disconcerting to my mother that a young girl from Upstate New York would want to mold her future personality traits after someone such as Woody Allen. However, considering I had a penchant for dressing up as other short, but less narcissistic Jewish men- most notably 2 out of 5 of the Marx Brothers and Rod Serling- I guess it should have come as no surprise.
I recalled the other evening the precise feeling I had when I first watched those films. It was as if the light bulb had finally been turned on. Here were these people who lived in New York City, were unapologetically self-aware, vocally insecure, and flailed their arms around incessantly when they talked. Being an only child of Jewish lineage, I was already predestined to two out of four of these describing factors. All I needed was to move to New York City- the city she idolized all out of proportion.
Why are the characters within the world of Woody Allen so attractive to us? Why do we fall for these narcissistic anti-heroes? They’re not contributing anything to the world other than a lot of hot air. They’re self-serving, loud, and easily annoyed. They can’t relate to anyone other than their overtly flawed friends and they’re typically pessimistic of everything. On paper that sounds like a total winner, huh? So what is it? Is it that we appreciate their gaul? Do we secretly wish we had the balls to talk so incessantly about ourselves?
Whatever it is, I’ve taken note of what steps it’s are needed to become one.
How to Become a Character in a Woody Allen Movie:
Use Fluffy Words– Such as “transplendant” or “devasting” when describing something as minute as a brushing your teeth or eating breakfast. This will make whomever you’re talking to both equally want to punch you and jump your bones.
Jew– Being Jewish is the epicenter of your entire being. You’re convinced that everyone on the street knows that you’re Jewish and is muttering subliminal anti-semantic rant while interacting with you. Being Jewish will make up 30% of your conversations with people even though you haven’t gone to synagogue ever.
Date Someone, Get Bored with Them– It doesn’t matter if they’re an underage model or a journalist for Rolling Stone, dump ’em. They may be more substantially more beautiful than you but they’ll never be as interesting as you think you are.
It’s All About the Glasses– What’s the best sort of glasses you can wear? Ones that accentuate your already huge snoz. Remember, you’re trying to model yourself after Groucho Marx after all.
Bergman, Bergman, Bergman– Keep repeating that name over and over because it’s the only thing you should talk about. Bring Ingmar Bergman up in the most inappropriate time in conversation. Somebody’s wife just passed away? Bring up Bergman! Your doctor is doing a prostate exam? BERGMAN! If you run out of Bergman anecdotes, throw in something about Normal Mailer or F. Scott Fitzgerald while you bide time looking up Bergman facts on your iPhone.
Get Analytical– Start seeing a shrink in order to have about 40% of all conversations with family members, friends, and strangers be about what you and your shrink talked about that day. Explain your life in terms of Freud as a way to not apologize for any narcissistic tendencies you may have. Talk about how your shrink may be more f’ed up than you are, but you refuse to see any one different.
New York, New York– Though you will complain about it ALL OF THE TIME, you can not live anywhere other than New York. Your pessimism is parallel with the stereotypical negativity known in the city. If someone took you out of NYC, you would shrivel up and die. You’re afraid of anything that isn’t dirty, loud, or gray. Though you may talk trash about the city, you view it within the rose color-tinted glasses of Gershwin tunes.