5 years since “Less Than Zero”

I went through my blog and I just realized that I never got around to doing this post back in February.

But today, Robert turns 51 and listening to this album as my way of celebrating [not knowing I’d binge on half a dozen YouTube videos also] gave me the excuse I need to talk about him.

Not that I really need an excuse… not here, anyway. My movie blog, I kinda do. Otherwise, it’d be nothing more than a fangirl shrine to him and there’s plenty more about movies that need discussing.
My next opportunity will be whenever “Captain America: Civil War” comes out. And considering my reaction to Tony Stark in “Age of Ultron,” this could be interesting… I mean, I’ve had this vendetta against James Spader from his actions in “Less Than Zero,” but I was even thinking history needed to be repeated.

It isn’t as if Ultron was manipulating Tony Stark- he was an experiment gone wrong and for the sake of humanity, maybe Tony deserved to be killed off. Glad we still have him. So I’ll see with the movie whether I’m Team Cap or Team Iron-Man.

But that’s a discussion for another time, obviously.

I started writing a retrospective of how much has changed (and what hasn’t) since I cemented my Robert Downey Jr. fangirl status. It’s on my iPhone, but I think I’m going to go with my gut and whatever comes out in this stream of consciousness, so be it.

Between midnight and 1:40am on February 4th 2011, “Less than Zero”- a movie I had wanted to see since I was maybe 11 because of The Bangles “Hazy Shade of Winter” video- was on IFC.
Not the greatest movie in the world by any means (people make cracks about the 80’s- but this was no John Hughes movie. It was inherently flawed), but for me, it was life-changing.
I’d been aware of RDJ for a couple years and loved him in “Tropic Thunder” and “Sherlock Holmes.” I knew he had somewhat of a checkered past, but I glazed over it. Didn’t think too much of it. It’s in the past so I didn’t need to concern myself with it.

After “Less Than Zero,” I had to know EVERYTHING. As much as it killed me (the wounds were still fresh from how tragically the movie ended), I wanted to get this behind me. That way, if someone brought his past up, they couldn’t hurt me or my opinion of him with it.
What shocked me the most wasn’t the number of arrests or relapses… it was the fact that he actually got deeper into his bad habits AFTER doing this movie. If it were me, it would make me never want to go near drugs again. And I’m already deftly afraid of addiction.
And of course I worried that he might have a situation where he needed to be wheeled into the emergency room and revived after an overdose. I wrote him a fan letter asking this and he never got bad to me. And it’s probably best that he didn’t. Where I am at this point, I don’t want that to be the impression he has of me.

I feel so lucky that he did notice me on social media on one occasion where I said something intelligent about him. It was in response to his People’s Choice awards acceptance speech where he said [had to look this up- I have the screenshot saved] he chooses his roles thinking of himself as an audience member and I added how that says to me that he cares about his fans more than getting major awards.

After getting to know Robert through his movie and various interviews, I’d gotten exposed to so many amazing things in movies that I wouldn’t have checked into otherwise. I feel like he made me more of an informed movie-goer than I ever was. I know what works in movies and what doesn’t- although I still will overlook what doesn’t work in the grand scheme if there’s something about the movie that I personally enjoy or it has special meaning for me.
I also never took directors for granted again. The way he talks about working with certain directors, it made me pay attention to the differences in their styles and so on.

But what I didn’t know at the time… the time I started seeing how brilliant Robert was as a person in addition to his acting, I didn’t realize then that I was on the brink of a personal crisis and he’d become the “spirit guide” that would help me through it.

Having five years to reflect, that isn’t completely accurate… although I did know that he was the most convenient distraction for me when I was stressing out about filling out job applications.
That previous fall I was fired from a job I’d held for just over a year- in part because I wasn’t as good at it as I should have been and in part because social anxiety issues I have. Particularly the fact it’s hard for me to ask for help when I absolutely need it.
It was the first time I’d failed at anything in my life. Combine that failure on my resume with my inexperience and a horrible job market… I was in a dark place that I couldn’t find my way out of.

And it would be three years before I did…
Whether it was his interviews, his album or writing about him, whatever “relationship” I had with Robert had ran its course. I was practically at the place where I began: depressed and so defeated that getting up in the morning was hard for me.
Through a series of circumstances, opportunity presented itself to me, finally. And I can only think that it was a God-given opportunity.
I’m not the kind of person who is super religious or vocal about their spirituality… but for me, there’s no other explanation.

I still do believe that Robert was brought to my attention for a reason. And a big reason was reinvigorating my writing. Since I was 16, I was the kind of person who usually wrote a book every year. [None of them are published or even ready to be published– part of the reason for my defeatist attitude because it is my ultimate professional goal and no agent I tried wanted my best manuscript].

Then after “Less Than Zero,” I started writing fanfiction about Julian- all with the common factor that he conquers his addiction and has a future.
I couldn’t make sense of that senseless ending [damn you, James Spader!] so that was my way of working through it.

Then I wanted his stint on “Ally McBeal,” fell in love with Larry Paul… that led to more fanfiction where I explored a lot of things that I never had before. Some I won’t repeat (in case Robert reads this- which is highly doubtful, but just in case…). But namely, I used his character as a vehicle for my insecurities about myself. It’s hard for me to really be open with my friends and family about things and I just needed someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay.

I didn’t have the means to escape my unemployment situation, but if only temporarily, he got me through periods of anger and sadness. Writing is good therapy- much healthier and cheaper than a lot of alternatives.
Writing and music are my go-to’s for stress relief and escaping/working through my problems.

Listening through Robert’s album today- shockingly it’s something I only do maybe once or twice a year now (when I first got it, I listened to it maybe once a week or once a month)- it’s still great. To me, he has a very unorthodox lyrical style. Not everything he says make senses in the usual way, but I get the feelings he meant to bring across.
Sometimes I feel a closer connection who he is with his music than when he just talks. Music is special like that.

“Man like me”- there’s nothing like him performing that live (I’ll have to go back to YouTube to see if I can find it- him doing it on the Jonathan Ross show was removed from my playlist)- right away, it cuts to the core by drawing attention to the fact he’s just getting over his issues, he’s finding love again and someone might be crazy to give him a chance after all that’s happened. But it winds up working because she sees there’s more to him than that.

“Broken”- he said he dedicated this to his first wife, but I wondered if he wrote it about her. Telling Susan that she fell in love with him after his heart broke over his first marriage ending. Or was it telling his first wife Deborah that when she fell in love with him, he was still heartbroken over Sarah Jessica Parker leaving him.

“The Futurist”- at the last line, I wondered if that was a part of the original lyric. Or if he ad-libbed that because Susan walked into the studio while he was recording it.
“It just so happens she’s here…”

“Little Clownz” was maybe the first song on the album (not on this occasion but just in general) where I started to think about more than just him and why he wrote this and what message does he want to give.
It was the first time I saw one of his songs from my own point of view. And it’s told me a couple times not to give up. When I haven’t felt my best, I have listened to it and it’s made me feel better. Something I should probably do more than I have… but I also don’t want to lose the magic by overdoing it.

“Smile” is always a great way to end this album… sometimes I get misty eyed because it’s the final track and it’s saying goodbye. But of course it’s emotional too.
Although I have to argue with Charlie Chaplin about one thing- crying has a use and it’s releasing all that emotion… you feel better after a good cry. Although it might depend on the actual situation.

By the time I got to the end today, I found that I still do have those feelings for Robert. I’m still infatuated with him and fascinated by him. When he’s on screen, I still gravitate towards him and I tune out everything else around me. As if he’s about to say something that’s really important.
Sometimes that’s true, sometimes it isn’t. 😛
But I find comfort in him that I haven’t quite felt with anyone else.

Yeah, it might be crazy saying all this about someone I’ve never met… and may never meet 😦
I’d love the opportunity just to tell him some of the things I brought up here.

I just hope if he reads this that he doesn’t think I’m crazy…

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