In collaboration with Alex Delaney of DEL∆NEY BY DEF∆ULT
(500) Days of Summer is one of my favourite films. It’s quirky, cute, funny, somewhat insightful and overall just really good storytelling of a relationship that we can all identify with. That one girl that you always liked a lot more than she liked you and how she broke your little heart. Me and my friend Alex both share a lot of love for this film, but one aspect of it that we constantly argue about (and I mean constantly) is whether Summer is or is not a massive dick. We’ve had this running argument for months, and we decided the productive way to deal with it was to put it down on paper (kind of) and take our sides in a bit of a vs. blog. I’m taking Tom’s side on this; he’s siding with Summer. Contestant number one, you will go on my first whistle!
Tom Hansen is an everyman. Clever, handsome, witty with a great taste in music and completely unfulfilled. Hansen is stuck in a dead end job, which is in no way related to what he trained to be, or is passionate about. His whole idea of happiness is based around the idea of finding and falling in love. He’s arguably immature, with a seemingly naïve idea of what love is.
He doesn’t seem to understand that that type of dependency on another person isn’t healthy, but it has been drilled into his head by what the narrator describes as “sad British pop music and a total misreading of the movie, ‘The Graduate’” that he’ll never be happy until he finds his soulmate.
The Graduate is also a favourite of mine, and an amazing depiction of how frustrating and boring life can be for someone who has no idea what he or she wants to do with it. How angst and boredom can result in mistakes and even winning back the love of your life in an incredibly passionate moment can just result in sitting on the backseat of a bus wondering “now what?” Is it Tom’s fault that he’s been led to think of love this way? I don’t think so, and although it’s a very cliché thing to say and something I don’t wholly believe in, we’re all ultimately victims of the media and there is always going to be an impact of popular culture onto society, and Gordon-Levitt’s character embodies this.Is it Hansen’s fault that he has no idea what love is? It’s a pretty vague idea, it’s not something that I’m going to say that I have complete knowledge of but Hansen definitely seems to have confused love for affection, and maybe with obsession as well. Hansen’s obsession with Summer is a bit of statement on how our culture is pushing these kinds of ideas onto us. Hansen may not be the Taylor Swift type, but artists like Swift push ideas of happiness coming only from true love. Of course, Hansen idolises bands like Joy Division, The Jesus and Mary Chain and my all time favourite The Smiths who don’t really project these messages, but do instil an idea of massive angst and obsession with the opposite sex.
Now to the pièce de résistance, why Summer is a massive dick. Summer is the worst kind of girl: a mindfuck. She leads him on completely. He was just a guy with a crush, ready to give up on it when all of a sudden; she just won’t stop flirting back to him and even going so far as to make the first move.
I get that he was way more into her than she was into him, I get that she said she didn’t want anything serious but she was completely inconsiderate and just selfish. If a guy flirted with a girl, came on to her and then just called her a friend, everyone would completely slaughter him. He’d be called a manwhore, a bastard and would be the subject of a hundred misguided tumblr posts and a feed full of ambiguous tweets. You might say that she has every right to be spontaneous and have fun, they’re both young, it’s harmless, right? Bullshit. Sexism works both ways.
Even when they break it off, and Tom is somewhat over her, she pushes her way back in and carries on flirting with him when she has a boyfriend. Dick. She tries to get him to be friends, even though it should be completely obvious that he wouldn’t be ready for that. Dick. When she reels him back in, she then flaunts off her engagement and perfect relationship in front of his face. Dick. Breaking up with someone over pancakes. DICK.
Summer knows exactly what she’s doing the whole time, she knows how Hansen’s falling for her more and more and just keeps going. She might have good intentions, she might think that she’s not hurting anyone; she might think that Ringo is the best Beatle. She’s wrong on all three, and I feel for Tom, I really do because falling so hard for a girl that doesn’t feel the same way towards you must be tough enough, but when it’s with a girl so cold who has the name Summer, then the irony just twists the knife that little bit more.