Spring Breakers: A Love Story Lesley Arfin

For mature audiences only.

I was sad and exhausted. I felt defeated. I’d been living in Los Angeles for about a year and a half doing the Hollywood writing thing. By a few wisps of luck and a couple of pubes of talent, things had been going fine, but I was starting to feel like maybe I wanted to give up. This isn’t a “poor me” story, I’m just telling you where my head was at before I saw Spring Breakers. I wasn’t angry, I was just tired. I had surrendered to the fact that I probably would never be able to write Wreck It Ralph and that was okay. So what if I didn’t succeed at what I’d set out to do? So what if I wasn’t invited to brunches? So what if I wasn’t even that talented? Or great or special or brave or whatever personality I thought I needed to have in order to get people to like me? So what if I died? Or worse—so what if I didn’t? I marked my life with a big fat SO WHAT stamp of approval and went to the movies with my friend Gia.

Spring Breakers starts with an unnerving Skrillex song and a plethora of barbecue-tanned titties getting sprayed with beer against a backdrop of neon blue sky. And just like that, I wasn’t tired anymore. Being a fan of Harmony Korine, I was excited to see the movie even though I knew there was a good possibility that I might not understand it. I was wrong. I understood it maybe a little too well. I remember once when I was in high school, my dirt bag friends stole a credit card and rented a motel room. We proceeded to get f**king wasted and graffiti all the walls and mirrors and tear the room apart. This isn’t a bragging right; I felt bad. I was being an assh**e and I knew it. But I never got in trouble for it. I suffered no consequences.

The same can be said about the characters in Spring Breakers. No event in the film ever led once to something I had predicted. Plot-wise, every complicated corner turned out instead to be a nice round bend. Cottie – young, naked, remarkably wasted and seemingly wanting to get f**ked – did not. The consequence to being insanely drunk and naked with a group of drunk white boys wasn’t met with rape, as one would expect, but rather… nothing. And doing coke resulted in a slight consequence but… not really. The characters who acted cocky, naïve and fearless were met with no punishment. And those who were scared and wanted to go home did just that, also without being punished.

When Selena Gomez started to cry and get scared, she was shipped off as her friends waved goodbye. Good. No one wanted to see Bonnie or Clyde cry, either. If anything, her punishment for leaving was just that. Her story stopped. If ever there was a movie that lived in a singular moment, it’s Spring Breakers. It doesn’t care that it could ruin the innocent minds of Disney princess fans. Did Harmony Korine exploit these girls? I don’t see how, since they wanted to be in the movie. Is it possible that they were both exploited and exploitative? As far as I’m concerned, those girls grabbed Korine’s film by the balls and had their way with it. I’m not sure the same could be said for Walt Disney, who exploited them as much as anyone else.

Spring Breakers doesn’t care about what’s considered homosexual and what isn’t. It doesn’t care about race or class too much, either. Stick a glock down James Franco’s throat and watch him either get his brains blown out or suck the gun like it’s like a big fat d**k. Either answer works (and ultimately did). Harmony Korine didn’t set out to make anything other than what he wanted. The result is a beautiful work of art and a truly compelling story. If the end goal of making a movie or writing a book or painting a picture or whatever kinda art you do is to communicate, Harmony Korine has succeeded x forever. Before Spring Breakers, he was just a friend of a friend who wrote Kids, made a Dogme 95 movie and a bunch of other stuff that was at times both pretty to look at and borderline annoying. He was the punch line to a “How many hipsters does it take to change a light bulb?” joke. Now with Spring Breakers, we’re the punch line. And it’s funny. I’m still laughing. And a lot of people are laughing with me.

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  1. This review is spot on. And very well written! I loved Spring Breakers and the Britney Spears scene (not that one from the trailer) might be the best scene in movie history. A montage of robbery and machine gun ballet. Thanks for having the courage to still do what you wanna do… You’re clearly good at it. I did a podcast about Spring Breakers here: viewerobsessionisadvised.wordpress.com because I’m doing whatever I want to do too!

  2. Thx for writing this. I also felt different walking out of the theatre, and I wasn’t sure just how. You are totally right: “Spring Breakers is, in this order: beautiful, frightening and silly.”

  3. While I have no intention of Spring Breakers at all, I’m glad it inspired you to keep doing what you want.
    However, I just have one qualm with your article. When you said, “I’m not sure the same could be said for Walt Disney, who exploited them as much as anyone else.”, I’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to say. Walt Disney DID NOT exploit these girls through their careers while they were Disney Princesses. The Disney COMPANY definitely exploited them for all they were worth, but it was never Walt’s intention to do such a thing.

    • oh and also Walt Disney was a nazi.

      Lesley Arfin | 3/28/2013 12:03 pm
    • Zoe: I was using “Walt Disney” as a metaphor for the entire Disney company. I apologize for it being unclear. I actually threw that line in at the last minute and I agree that it feels a little awkward and out of rhythm with the rest of the piece. Oh well. Better luck next time right? #springbreak4ever
      Love Lesley

      Lesley Arfin | 3/28/2013 12:03 am
  4. Dude, Lesley.
    All I have to say is that this is completely spot on. This is exactly how I felt and what I tried to convey to my friends who ‘hated it’ and ‘didn’t get this movie.’
    I, too, am a writer who has recently felt like I’m probably not as cool or as good of a writer as I thought I was. And watching Spring Breakers definitely lit a fire under my ass. This blog said everything I felt and thought while watching the movie. And for that, I say, thank you.
    Thank you for getting it.

  5. Really wanna watch this now :D

  6. This article was a breath of fresh air. Thanks for that.

  7. Harmony Korine was 19 when he wrote Kids. Now he’s 40, and he is STILL writing Kids. I find that a little bit creepy.

  8. Going to see it tonight this review got me all pumped!

  9. Seriously one of the best reviews I’ve read. YESSSS to all the things! You get it. You get the point of the movie. Shesus this was so refreshing to read.

  10. This is brilliant!! I relate to every single thing you said. “Makes my heart explode.”

  11. Great article. I too felt less tired after seing the movie, as if I finally saw a movie reflecting the spirit of our age in all its contradictions and as if Korine found poetry in what people could only see throught a sarcastic or a critical/negative eye. Of course it’s not just a movie about “idiot people doing idiotic things”. It’s a movie about a generation who defines itself through pop-culture references and who is looking for a place it belongs to. An unreal place for an unreal generation personified by the spring break.
    In a way, all the negative reactions about the movie are very interesting because it underlines how unable to understand their own world most people are.

  12. I also cannot tell if this is a massive tongue-in-cheek article….

  13. Uhm.. So I honestly can’t tell if this article is being genuine or highly sarcastic, thus I am thoroughly confused about whether to see this movie or not.
    It was very nice though, and I agree with the thoughts on society acting like it is all or nothing with these things. It is ok to have fun sometimes and get a little crazy. You just have to watch out for yourself sometimes.

  14. Have you seen ‘I Melt with You?’ I found that movie to be similar to the ‘Spring Breakers.’ It was a lot more dark but definitely was similar with the way it was shot and the way you came in feeling one way and came out feeling a completely different way. It took your emotions on a roller coaster.

  15. I’m a little unclear as to what the point of this article was. The ideas are a bit jumbled and all over the place….You’ve been inspired to go on with your life and were inspired by a move about a bunch of young, idiot people doing idiotic, destructive things?

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