Do not believe the hype. Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) are the villains of La La Land. They are both sociopaths. They are consistently inconsiderate to each other and everyone else around them. Let’s take a moment to ignore the stars of the film, and instead recognize its true heroes.
Mia’s Boyfriend Greg
A good man is hard to find. Luckily for Mia, she has one at the beginning of La La Land: Greg. They’ve been seeing each other for a month or so, and he seems really into her! Unluckily for Greg, Mia is a monster. You see, Greg had made plans for Mia to meet his brother. Mia, being a self-centered asshole, completely forgets about these plans and makes plans to go on a date with Sebastian instead. I’m not going to assume monogamy on the part of Greg and Mia, but if Greg is openly serious enough about Mia to plan for her to meet his BROTHER, the least she could do is not double-book the date. So upon realizing her mistake, Mia quickly gets ready while Greg patiently waits. Some frustration on Greg’s part would have been justified in this moment of extreme flightiness from Mia, but he is calm because he clearly cares for her. Later, in the middle of dinner, Mia decides she’d rather see Sebastian, so she GETS UP, LEAVES DINNER AND WORDLESSLY DUMPS GREG…IN FRONT OF HIS BROTHER! Now, from what we can tell, Greg did nothing wrong to Mia. He’s just a nice, patient guy, trying to do the right thing by his flighty love interest. Please, pour a glass of white wine out for Greg. I hope he found love.
A decade ago, this role surely would have gone to Joan Cusack. Instead, Rosemarie DeWitt plays La La Land‘s resident wet blanket: Sebastian’s sister Laura. I’m sorry, did I say “wet blanket”? I meant “concerned sister who tries endlessly to help her maladjusted brother survive in the real world.” In her first scene, she “disrespects” Sebastian by having the audacity to sit on a stool, gently suggest he pay his bills and remind him that, in the past, their entire family had tried to warn him about a Ponzi scheme that he still fell for. THIS ISN’T A LAME BITCH WHO DOESN’T UNDERSTAND YOUR ART, THIS IS A CONCERNED SISTER TRYING TO HELP YOU AVOID FRAUD AND DEBT. As ridiculous as Sebastian is, Laura is always patient and supportive. The world could use more Lauras.
Sebastian’s Friend Keith
John Legend plays Sebastian’s more successful and pragmatic friend, the jazz musician Keith. Despite the fact that Sebastian is chilly to Keith, Keith still invites Sebastian to play in his new band for $1,000 a week. Now, given that Sebastian is clearly on the verge of bankruptcy, he should view this as the greatest gift a friend could give him: an opportunity to make a great living playing music! But not in La La Land, where our vanilla star judges Keith for incorporating drum machines into his band’s sound. See, Sexy White Devil knows what REAL jazz sounds like, and the black musicians in Keith’s band are just corporate sellouts. Despite the obviously retrograde, historically ignorant and racially offensive nature of this dynamic, Keith STILL lets Sebastian play in his increasingly famous band. This undeserved patience allows Sebastian to raise the funds to open his mayonnaise-themed white jazz club, Seb’s. I’m sure Steve Bannon and Milo love Seb’s. Keith, here’s to you, and to generations of black folks being way more patient than we deserve. We can assume Sebastian lectured Keith off-screen about why Hillary and Trump were equally bad choices.
Reasonably Upset Customer with Celiac (Not Pictured)
Mia is a barista. We are supposed to feel sorry for her, because clearly she is better than this job. Clearly she is better than the millions of mothers who support families on minimum wage service sector jobs. JUST KIDDING, she’s a spoiled brat who should be lucky to have a job that pays the bills while also offering her the flexibility to audition for asinine roles. But, naturally, Mia does not feel lucky to have this job. In one scene, a prissy blonde woman comes up to Mia and snarls “Does this pastry have gluten in it?” Now, we’re supposed to side with Mia here, but let’s use some logic. Anyone with gluten intolerance would know that most pastries have gluten in it. Any reasonable analysis of this scene would lead one to imagine that this woman had requested a gluten-free treat, and Mia ignored her and gave her a regular pastry. In response to this life-threatening mistake, Mia promises to get her a refund. In the next five minutes, our Celiac survivor stands annoyed while Mia chats with her boss and then flirts with Sebastian instead of quickly getting the refund. Health scare aside, this is terrible service. I’ve worked in several minimum wage service jobs, and I would have been fired from ANY of them had I tried to chat with cute boys while neglecting customers. Now, moving beyond the fact that Mia is a terrible employee, SHE HAD JUST NEARLY POISONED THIS POOR WOMAN. The filmmakers want us to feel sorry for Mia here, but we know who the real victim was. This woman should have reported Mia to her boss, but instead she stood silently (if impatiently) waiting for her refund. Stay strong, woman with Celiac. Stay strong.
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La La Land is a superficially beautiful film about two bad people succeeding despite their extreme character flaws. While The Man wants us to look at the beautiful stars and respect their dreams, I beg you to look at their surroundings and pray for the people who supported them. It takes a village to raise two sociopaths, even when they’re pretty and white.