Flicked Off: 'Greenberg,' or, Mean is the New Sad

GREENBERGNow that he is tasked for real with directing the adaptation of The Emperor’s Children, we must take Noah Baumbach for serious again. And so….

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: What was it like for you to go on a Bromotional journey into Ben Stiller’s Acting cred? How was it spending 2 hours with a character you HATED?

Julie Klausner: It was better than dating one! But I did like the movie.

Natasha: Have you dated a G-berg?


Julie: YES!!

Natasha: Ok, Explain what a G-man is.

Julie: Somebody who thinks honesty is not only a value, but THE MOST IMPORTANT VALUE. But honesty should be a given! There’s no nun named after honesty.

Natasha: I have met this kind!

Julie: Just, like, a guy, who’s like “I’m damaged and awful, but I’m being honest about it so here I go! Get your gauze out, ladiezzz!!!” And then you just bleed from the eyes and the heart and the hands.

Natasha: I’m wet right now!

Julie: Wet with blood and gore!

Natasha: And so is that what you saw in G-berg? That kind of awkward/sadman archetype?

Julie: Angrier, more entitled, arroganter. Arrogreenberg.

Natasha: Why did you like this movie that I hated!?

Julie: Did you really walk out?

Natasha: Yup.

Julie: Was it because you were in a band like G-berg called MAGIC MARKER and it hit too close to home?

Natasha: It’s likely I may have made out with all The Sharpies.

Julie: Oh, that shit doesn’t wash out.

Natasha: OMG.

Julie: Okay, here’s why I liked it. I thought the girl was a real girl. I believed Florence was a real girl. Not like Lars and the Real Girl, pervo.

Natasha: *zips up pants*

Julie: Whereas Noah Baum-Baum had that Squid & Whale Sashimi shit show when Laura Linney had nothing to do–and that’s not fair to give Laura Linney nothing to do! At least give her cancer!

Natasha: (I liked that one!)

Julie: You did??? It was, to me, like a little boy who’d never known where his mom was coming from, and then grew up to make a movie about her, and still had no idea where she was coming from. At least in G-berg you know 20-something chicks like Florence exist.

Julie: Can we discuss Florence?

Natasha: Yes. Please. Because I disliked her.

Julie: I liked her, but I wanted more scenes of Flo crying blood out of her eyes. Because that’s what happens when you go Greenberg.

Natasha: Tell me about the bleed.

Julie: Oh, the pain!!! Hurt people hurt Florence! You catch a case of the crazy.

Natasha: She absorbed too much of his angst without giving enough back?

Julie: Yeah. We saw her pissed, and we saw her in neutral, and we saw her in drive, we saw her listening to Steve Miller driving. I wanted her on the phone with Gina, her bro-ette and WAILING OUT HER SOCKETS ABOUT that damaged Jew fuck, that arrogant prick, that tiny-dicked psycho.


Julie: Okay, go!

Natasha: One night after Greensie makes Florence feel like absolute shit, she calls up the bestie who says, “UM THIS BRO IS NO GOOD.” Florence says, “I THINK HE’S JUST VULNERABLE.”

Natasha: That’s something ladies of my cohort grew up watching cause all the Sad Men Born of the 1970s made movies and wrote books about it.

Julie: Right– and how he’s brave for doing nothing?

Natasha: Exactly. I’ve been spoonfed since I was old enough to get finger blasted that I should love these men because they’re spesh because they feel so much. And while I don’t necessarily disagree, I’m simply exhausted from that narrative.

Julie: Well, I think Baumbro calls bullshit on him, for what it’s worth.

Natasha: Maybe I should have stayed for that part!

Julie: Well, you know who is vulnerable more than Greenbro? THE DOG Greenberg has to take care of. The way they used that dog made me feel the way one you do when you see circus elephants parading down the streets of New York.

Natasha: Talk to me about the dog.

Julie: Well, as you know, my heart is made out of dogs.

Natasha: I’ve heard rumors.

Julie: And secondly, people should know: the German Shephard was a breed the Nazis designed, to make sure the Jews like Roger Greenberg were eliminated in a customary manner.

Natasha: So is the sick Nazi dog which G-berg starts to nurse supposed to be a wink-wink at the audience that he can be a good man?

Julie: No, it’s another cringe device.


Julie: It’s the black guy walking towards Larry David so you can be like, “uh oh.”

Natasha: I do say that!

Julie: I just realized: I am more protective of the dog than of the girl. My head is exploding.


Julie: I may be contradicting myself, but I think the reason why this movie was good, was because Noah Baumbro was so honest. Like, you know how the Greenbros think honesty is more important than not being the worst? Maybe that’s not the case when you’re making a movie about the Greenbergs of this world.

Natasha: Is Greenberg self-aware? And aren’t men/people who say “I was just being honest” mean ‘I couldn’t take the mental / emotional energy to think of your feelings?’

Julie: Yes. And I do think he’s self aware, but in the way that a narcissist/sociopath is self aware–which is to say, he sees himself in a totally skewed, myopic, alternatingly grandiose and crushingly gloom and doom kind of way

Natasha: YES.

Julie: I know this type in and out. Remember when he dove into Florence’s puss after having two sips of beer at her apartment? That was so awkward but so true. Like Budweiser True. WASSSSUPPPPPP.

Natasha: OMG, that was real.



Natasha: But could a bro like Greenberg bring the drama a twenty-something would want? I thought all he could bring is a puss dive, a mix CD and neurosis and pouting? And isn’t Baumbro saying, sorry ladies, this man still feels and you should love himmmmm?

Julie: I think Noah hates him too. And I do think Noah lets him grow-ah, a little-a bitt-a.

Natasha: Okay, would a woman in her 30s put up with Sadbroskies?

Julie: You know what? I have a very sad answer: If he was mean enough.

Natasha: Oh, dear.

Julie: Mean is the new sad. It’s not just ‘Weep Weep. I’m fat around your couch. Smokkkeeee pottttt. Fart.’

Natasha: Ah!

Julie: It’s like, “Hi! I’m calling you! Because I’m crazy!”

Julie: “Let’s go out! I can’t take care of this dog but I’m going to try! I can’t love you! I’m interesting, right?”

Natasha: I’M SHAKING.

Julie: You know how in my book, I talk about that crazy guy who thought he was sensitive, but his skin was only thin in one direction?


Natasha: You mean the text that’s available on Amazon right now!?

Julie: For only $10.82??

Natasha: What a deal!

Julie: So that was my Greenberg, totally. But you know what I mean? Sensitive guys who are like “I FEEL THINGS INTENSELY!” But they can’t feel your pain because it doesn’t exist to them.

Natasha: I do! That’s part of the reason I walked out. Not from rage but from tedium of being through all this shit with damaged men IRL. What pushed my ass out of the seat was when he drives her to get her abortion.

Natasha: I was just like, ACH, “aborsh as the deus ex machina for compassion? No thanks!” I’m done.

Julie: Yeah, so he can mensch out in a way that isn’t scary. Because once she needs an aborsh, she’s wounded too, like him! It’s also like Greenbro being, “I’ll show you how pro-choice I am!”

Julie: “I’ll donate to Haiti when you’re done.”

Natasha: “Textin Haiti from your aborsh, want the children who lived to have shoes.”

Natasha: Does she stay with him??

Julie: Probably not, he’ll go back to Bushwick.

Natasha: That’s where they all belong! Ok, so what’s the lesson in G-berg???

Julie: Mean is the new sad. Damaged men are the new man-babies. “Hurt people hurt people” but also “Hurt people make movies.”

Julie: Whether crazy wears sad or crazy wears angry.

Julie: Also, don’t fuck crazy.

Julie: And don’t let crazy dive into your puss!

Julie: Because he can’t take care of dogs.

Julie: And dogs are GOD’S CREATURES.


Julie Klausner and Natasha Vargas-Cooper are experts.