2015 was a year of pop culture joy, but also of deep disappointment for the Complex Pop Culture squad. This week, we'll each share what was our greatest pop culture disappointment of the year.
The trailer was everything I ever wanted in a movie that I could hate so vehemently, a movie that could be laughably bad and shallow enough for me to glean massive amounts of joy from it. You understand the term “hate-watch,” correct? This looked like the pinnacle of hate-watch material; the Lawrence of Arabia of fucking terrible movies.
In the trailer for We Are Your Friends, which obviously opens with Justice’s “We Are Your Friends,” because how could it not, Zac Efron and his muscles (and his muscly voice) complain about the mundanities of growing up millennial: “Study halls, SATs, liberal arts, student loans, layoffs, bail outs, broken dreams,” Efron’s muscles say before the screen flashes to this picture:
The trailer’s so great and well-groomed for the Hate-Watching Hall of Fame because we all know that asshole who won’t shut up about SOCIETY’S ISSUES even though he’s a privileged, good-looking white dude from California. This trailer makes Zac Efron sound like “The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation With at a Party” from Saturday Night Live. Soon after declaring that Zac and his friends will not be sheeples bound by the corruption of Lehman Brothers or whatever, he’s all of the sudden mansplaining how to DJ and it was at this point that I realized, “OMG I AM GOING TO HATE THIS SO MUCH IT’S GOING TO FEEL GOOOOOOD.” And I thought all of this before I found out that We Are Your Friends was directed by the gray-haired guy from MTV’s Catfish.
So let’s jump ahead three months to when I actually saw the movie. It was at a special screening near Penn Station, after which there would be an after-party at Marquee. I think they sold tickets for it or something, and because of the Marquee after-party, most of the people who attended were dressed up in club outfits. Guys wore suits and outfits you might see Justin Bobby wear on The Hills, and a lot of very young-looking girls wore very revealing, very shiny dresses...and then they all packed into some dirty movie theater seats and put movie nachos on their laps. I was sitting by myself, sandwiched by two friend groups of about five girls each. They seemed really excited to see the movie—and I was too, but probably for a different reason.
Only, I didn’t end up having fun hating We Are Your Friends—I merely hated how much I hated We Are Your Friends. It only made me furious.
The movie was so lifeless and pretentious—Max Joseph’s directing and screenplay about an aspiring EDM artist more or less spit in the face of EDM as a genre. It criticized the culture, seemed to laugh at it, and revealed itself to be a mere exploitation of it. An apparent theme throughout We Are Your Friends is that most DJs are just lazy jerks with laptops. And for a movie supposedly geared towards millennials, it was downright condescending to that generation. “Get a job, losers,” Joseph pretty much said, scoffing like Clint Eastwood talking to a chair. Finally, the movie was just so dull and basic, which just seemed so strange to me, considering it was set in a world defined by blinding, flashing lights. By the time Zac Efron was repeating “Are we ever gonna be better than this!?” at a strug-looking EDM festival (WTF WTF WTF), I couldn’t even laugh. My soul had already been so crushed, drowned by an unquenched hateful thirst.
I guess I’m the tragic hero of this story, and I mean that in a Shakespearean kind of way (sorry, I just saw Macbeth). I should have known better. I should have been able to see that We Are Your Friends was just an empty hole of a movie, that nothing good could come from putting any kind of faith in a movie directed and written by Nev Schulman’s sidekick and starring Zac Efron and Emily Ratajkowski. You all knew not to see this shit—which is why it ended up being one of the biggest flops in movie history—but I was blinded by the joyful feeling of hate. My own hubris led me to believe that I could make humor out of this cinematic debacle. Am I ever gonna be better than this? Can’t I just go back to that day in May when I laughed my ass off watching this trailer?