Diablo Cody Can Dia-blo Me

By Randal Stevens · May 8, 2010

Every screenwriter has different ways they approach their writing. Darren Lynn Bousman, a self-proclaimed nice guy (to which I can attest), vents his frustration and anger through horror writing. Billy Wilder, one of the greatest writer-directors in history, would write happy stories when he was sad and sad stories when he was happy, claiming that feeling one mood would allow him to know what it would take to make him feel the other. Diablo Cody has said* that she likes to think about how people act and speak in the real world, then write them in the exact fucking opposite way as though they were, “overly saturated pop-culture brats whose alcoholic doctors delivered them only partially successful lobotomies.” For her efforts, Cody has won an Oscar, her own TV series on Showtime and my scorn.

Some of you may be thinking, “zOmG!!1 Hating on Diablo Cody is like sooo too yearz ago!” True. But it’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to. Three years ago when everyone and their mothers were calling Juno, “the little indie that could,” I would vent to anyone who would listen and their mothers about my quarrels with Cody and her aberrant-yet-mistaken-for-quirky dialogue. A lot of people found Cody’s razor-sharp and zeitgeist-aware dialogue as refreshing amongst an otherwise stuffy and overly sentimental Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences; like James Dean ripping the Oscar out of Tony Gilroy’s hand and guzzling down too much Red Bull after declaring that his skinny jeans and vintage plaid button down was “the cheese to my macaroni.” I, however, found Cody’s dialogue to signal the end of civilization as we know it.

You see, Cody’s writing encourages people to be morons. Art imitates life and to return the favor life will often imitate art. After Tarantino directed Pulp Fiction in 1994, how many filmmakers tried to imitate the quickly-paced, irreverent dialogue imbued with excessive violence? Too many, and the ratio of successful to failed imitators was lopsided in the favor of the rip-offs. Am I worried that there will be an army of Diablo Cody imitators running around stealing Oscars? No. Were that to happen, there’d already be armies of former strippers-turned-screenwriters trying to convince me that 16-year old girls burn through references to 1980’s television like Lindsay Lohan through Grey Goose. But young people are impressionable to one degree or another and young girls with filmmaking aspirations may look up to Cody as a cinematic role model. She won an Oscar! She has her own show! She used to get paid to take her clothes off! With imitators come more aneurysm-inducing lines of dialogue like “honest to blog” and “you’re so jello.” NOBODY FUCKING TALKS LIKE THAT! Where are you getting this from, Cody?

That’s not to say that all dialogue needs to be realistic. Some filmmakers, such as Quentin Tarantino, Judd Apatow and Kevin Smith, have defined themselves and their careers on doing just that. The only difference between these writers and Cody is that their dialogue doesn’t call attention to itself. When Pulp Fiction rolled around, the banter between Jules and Vincent helped turn an establish genre on its head. Not to mention it was educated. Both The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up belied an intelligence and heart in partner with a crudeness and pop-culture weening. Years before that, Clerks made social taboos hilarious to talk about and helped spice up the mundane. They all eventually had their missteps (Death Proof, Funny People, Jersey Girl), but they all ingratiated themselves into our consciousnesses before doing so. Cody followed up Juno with Jennifer’s Body. Let’s hope she learned her lesson.

Let’s not forget that even if people aren’t talking one way, the possibility exists that they soon will be after a significant enough piece of pop-culture. Walk into a frat house and scream, “Mom!! Meatloaf!! Fuck!!” and see how jock douche bags respond. I’m guessing all of them. Can you recall how many of your friends (mis)quoted “Call it, friendo” after Javier Bardem rocked a bowl cut HARD in No Country For Old Men? Also, fill in this blank: “I drink your ______. I drink it up!” You know what I’m talking about. The last thing we need are teenage girls patting themselves on their recent purchase of an ever-so-witty hamburger telephone. “I’m calling you on my hamburger phone!” “Good. I’m vomiting all over my hopes for the future.”

*Citations needed and/or fictitious