The Malcontent is a pseudonymous Essay Daily feature in which we invite writers to put on their black hats and write against the things that we all seem to love. You know: puppies, nature, Montaigne, Didion, Baldwin, Seneca, even love itself. In our private, cranky hearts, we wonder how much good universal praise does anyone.As Edward Abbey puts it in Desert Solitaire: “Nobody particularly enjoys the role of troublemaker. But when most writers are unwilling to take chances, afraid to stick their necks out on any issue, then a few have to take on the burden of all and do more than their share.”
Critics have really come hard at this movie. I haven't seen a pan-fest, a fuck-you to a movie like this in a while, and that is an interesting reaction… Criticism [is] a profession that in many cases is very imperiled by the state of the way that culture is consumed, the rise of fan culture relative to the merits of criticism, the way that the media has been completely distorted and somewhat destroyed over the course of the last twenty years, the way that the internet has, y'know, annihilated people's ideas of what is and isn't good, what is and is not quality thinking. Critics obviously are under fire in a meaningful way so a movie like [Malcolm & Marie] feels like an even stronger attack than it might have ten or fifteen years ago.
Do you remember those antidepressants I was on? I’m not on them anymore. I’m not doing well. I’m really, really not doing well. I’ve never been clean. And I don’t plan on getting clean. I’m a piece of shit. I’m a liar… I cheated on you. I fucked your friends. God, I feel like I’m crazy… I’ve stolen from your mother. And you know what the fucked up thing is? I don’t even care. I don’t mind. Because I deserve it. Tell me where the fucking pills are. Tell me where the pills are.
You say the film is about shame and guilt...Correct? Your words, not mine. All right. Well, I have a question for you, Malcolm. Whose fucking shame? Whose guilt? What the fuck do you know about shame and guilt? You have two parents, no bad habits other than being a fucking prick, and a college education. Your mother is a therapist. Your father is a professor. Your sister works for a think tank in D.C. But out here, on these streets, these smiling fucking rich people, they think you know what it’s like to scrap. Think you fucking lived it. Give me a break. You’re more privileged than the white girl who works for the LA Times, who thinks she’s doing a public service by lifting up your mediocre ass.
Emilio Carrero is a recent postdoctoral fellow in English from the University of Arizona. His work has been published on Terrain.org, Brevity's Nonfiction Blog, and Guernica, and is forthcoming in Kenyon Review Online. He was a 2020 recipient of the Richard Salinas Scholarship from the Aspen Words Institute, and is a 2021 recipient of the Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Nonfiction from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He is currently working on a memoir.
The Malcontent is a pseudonymous Essay Daily feature in which we invite writers to put on their black hats and write against the things that we all seem to love.