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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

May 15, 2006

Addicted to Meg

It can't have escaped your notice that some of the digital telly channels are run on a shoestring. If it's not repeats, it's cheap imports (some of which are rather good, hooray!), and if it's not either of those, then it's a film you've seen 90 million and a half times.

Just recently, I've caught the same bit of You've Got Mail a couple of times. It's the bit from just after Tom Hanks has put her out of business, and he meets his father down at their boats. Then he goes round to Meg Ryan's house and takes her daisies, drops a couple of hints that he's her mystery man, and leaves her with a puzzled look on her face.

The film then rapidly accelerates towards the end, as Tom and Meg keep bumping into each other and then arranging to meet, and she finally arranges to meet her online friend, who turns out to be Tom Hanks' dog Brinkley.

I like this film, I don't know why. I'm a big softie, basically, and I love Meg Ryan in this, and in French Kiss and that one with Matthew Broderick, what's it called? She's a bit mad in that. She's a bit mad in all three films, really, because who in their right mind arranges to meet up with an online friend without at least taking a chaperone? In French Kiss she pursues and stalks her ex-boyfriend and hooks up with a bit of a crim. In Addicted to Love (looked it up) she's completely unhinged and does some serious and wouldn't-be-funny-in-real-life stalking. That's a beautiful film that tries to have a lot to say about film too.

Anyway, that bit of You've Got Mail I keep seeing. Like Addicted to Love, it's a bit creepy, when you think about it. Tom Hanks has known for some time that his online friend was Meg. But not vice versa. Not until he drops a couple of hints (gives her daisies and she says, "I love daisies," and he says, "You told me.") and then he repeats something else from online and she gets that puzzled look on her face and thinks about it.

But then for the remainder of the film he plays a bit of a game with her. His online self says things to her, which she then reports to him in real life. And then he takes the piss out of what his online self has said, undermining his internet alter-ego in order to make her favour the real him.

Joe Fox: So what's his handle?
Kathleen Kelly: Uh...
Joe Fox: I'm not going to write him, is that what you're worried about? You think I'm going to e-mail him?
Kathleen Kelly: Alright - NY152.
Joe Fox: N-Y-one-five-two. One hundred and fifty-two. He's... 152 years old. He's had 152 moles removed, so now he's got 152 pock marks on his face.
Kathleen Kelly: The number of people who think he looks like Clark Gable.
Joe Fox: 152 people who think he looks like a Clark BAR.
Kathleen Kelly: Why did I ever tell you this?
Joe Fox: 152 stitches from his nose job. The number of his souvenir shot glasses that he's collected in his travels.
Kathleen Kelly: No... the number... His address? No, no. He would never do anything that prosaic.

Now, if that happened in real life, if you and I were friends online but I knew who you really were, and played a kind of game with you, would that be creepy? Of course it would. At the very least, it's controlling behaviour, and he's already controlled her out of business.

Then again, isn't she supposed to know by this point? Has she really not worked it out? At the end she says, "I wanted it to be you. I wanted it to be you so badly." So maybe they're as creepy as each other, or they're playing a mating game, having fun with it, so who am I to criticise? It's an interesting thought, what I started out to say. Because there is a huge difference between the kind of things that seem right to - er - write, and the kind of things that sound natural and real when you speak them. A couple of times, she repeats things to him that she's said online, and it jars, it does. Because you just don't talk like that.

I've struggled all my life with this dissonance, because I can never quite find a form of words. You know you sometimes get that problem with people online being unable to detect irony? Well I sort of have the reverse of that, because people often don't detect sincerity when I speak. Ha ha! Seriously.

But Tom Hanks, though. Was there supposed to be some kind of chemistry between the leads? By this stage, Hanks' features look like little currants stuck in the middle of a podgy gingerbread face. It's hard to find this slit-eyed individual charming. Meg, on the other hand, was at her peak in this '95-'98 period. I haven't seen any of her post-millennium pictures, mind, which says more about me than about her. Mind you, she let herself down with that Parkie interview, and the ridiculous fat lips she had on at the time. I know he had her on with Trinnie and Susannah, which is about the ultimate insult, but a true professional should rise above that kind of thing.

By the way, I find it deeply upsetting, when you go looking for a picture of Meg, that there are so many undignified and unlikely fake nudes of her out there. Her and Gillian Anderson seem to have suffered more than most from these sick people who take delight in pasting a fake face on a porn star's body. For me, Meg should never be the subject of this kind of thing, because it's not about seeing her naked, is it?


  • No, but her nipples are rather nice in The Presidio...

    By Blogger patrische, at 6:03 am  

  • I think the whole issue of Internet personas and real ones and how they cross is very strange and fascinating indeed.

    Most people don't think there is anything strange in it, but I do.

    I find it very very odd that people are drawn to other people about whom they know almost nothing.

    So many times I've seen people jeopardise there entire real life over a fling with someone they know through a few furtive messages. It's just such a weird crossover.

    I know I might offend a few people with this but I think it owes a great deal to fantasy and the projection of our own ideals onto a stranger.

    The Internet is just strange.

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 10:44 am  

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