Mr. Braddock: Ben, this whole idea sounds pretty half baked.
Ben: No, it’s not. It’s completely baked.
Watched The Graduate the other afternoon, which I hadn’t seen since it was on tv on a saturday(or was it a sunday?) afternoon in fall of 1996(UPN channel.) I did see part of it at Beth and Josh’s pool party one night in the summer of 2006, but that wasn’t as memorable of a viewing since other people were chatting the whole time, and we were drunk and had just eaten filiberto’s. Anyway, The Graduate was much better than I had remembered it being. The ambiance of the film is great of course, the epitome of 60’s style and cool and in the words of one eloquent youtube commenter, “this is what white culture was 40 years ago.” I always felt that the film sells out in the end though, sending well intentioned young men the wrong message. Ben Braddock fucks a girl’s mom, then goes on one date with the girl and falls madly in love and decides hes going to marry her. Of course, after Elaine finds out he banged her mother (she is misinformed by her mother who claims he raped her,) she wants nothing to do with him. He then proceeds to travel up to Berkeley where she is going to school, rents a room and starts stalking her…harassing her every chance he gets. Sure, from one shiftless, idiosyncratic dude to another, we’ve all been there. You tell me how well that strategy works for you. Maybe things were different back then, but these days the girl would have threatened to call the cops and get a restraining order if you so much as sent one potentially creepy text. Now I’m not saying this type of persistence couldn’t work, merely that it couldn’t work for a shy and nervous guy like Benjamin Braddock on a respectable and intelligent girl like Elaine. If it were some big, hairy, oafish guy pursuing some degenerate, drug addict, slutbag, it might work. Indeed, I’ve seen it happen more than a few times. Maybe that’s why the movie is so popular, because Hoffman’s character becomes an unlikely hero and succeeds through methods which have failed his kind so many times before and since. It would have been a much better film if he did not get Elaine at the end, if he were to race to her wedding only to have her say “Benjamin, you’re starting to scare me. Look you’re a great guy, and we had some good times, but really I don’t like you as much as you like me. Besides the fact that I just got married, I’m moving to Portland, and I want to start over there and have new experiences and meet new people. I don’t want you to come with me.” Then the graduate could have learned life’s hardest lesson, one that isn’t taught in any school.
How do you know he gets Elaine in the end? Just because they get on a bus together doesn’t mean a happy ending. The terrified look in both of their faces as they realize “what’s next” is what makes the end of this movie so charming. In fact, I would say this is an underlying theme throughout the entire movie…life as a constant “what now?” or “what has to be done”
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