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Confessions Of A Teenage Boy: How The Sadboi Took Over Cinema

Film
Photos Courtesy of A24, Amazon Studios, and Focus Features

How ‘Boy Erased,’ ‘Mid90s,’ and ‘Beautiful Boy’ understand pain as identity

At the very start of Boy Erased, the head therapist of a gay conversion therapy program asks a room full of teenagers for a show of hands of everybody who is imperfect. A sea of tentative limbs rise. There are more boys than girls, and skittish glances circle around the group as the young men silently try to figure out whether this anguish will ever pass. Jared Eamons (Lucas Hedges) is the titular boy working against his demons, following the course of psychological erasure in order to exorcize the emotions that are sabotaging his existence. Being gay is a condition that must be treated, just like any other disease, though it's dealt with more like a vice.

In an ocean of coming-of-age movies, teenagers grappling with anxiety in mundane situations dominate the genre. By focusing on everyday struggles, these films feel accessible by reflecting adolescent rites of passage, like the crushing normality of a first love in Call Me By Your Name or the restlessness of a determined senior year in Lady Bird. But this fall, the torment of the teenage boy runs deeper. Instead of coming of age naturally while inevitably suffering a little in the process, from the brainwashing of Boy Erased to the intoxication in Beautiful Boy and the bashing-through of Mid90s, these kids are inherently defined by what causes them pain. If they do eventually grow up in the process, that’s just a bonus.

Jared’s sexuality is pitted against him before he even has time to understand it. When he’s outed to his parents anonymously, his uncertainty becomes an undeniable imperfection that must be fixed. The things that torment him are no longer just the product of his own self-doubt, but a fact that everyone believes: It's just the way he is, and it’s not good enough. 

In Beautiful Boy, Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) struggles with substance abuse on his own, but his relationship with crystal meth ends up having a severe influence on his father David (Steve Carell) and his network of family and friends. It’s a self-inflicted and uncontrollable form of suffering, in which his pain has to explain him, however much he tries to escape it. 

In Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, the male protagonist has a somewhat less life-threatening inner conflict, but he's no less tormented. At just 13 years old, Stevie (Sunny Suljic) is younger than Jared and Nic, Mid90s is the concrete road he bruises himself against, hurting obsessively in the name of friendship. Because Stevie wants to be cool at all costs, he puts himself through the motions of physical and psychological battering in order to both purge and embrace the vices that characterize the teenage years at their most exciting. While Boy Erased and Beautiful Boy reckon with external influences which enable emotional scarring, Mid90s evokes suffering more literally and still barely escapes with fewer scratches.

The way these boys look matters: They are all white, handsome, slender; the archetypal American ideal of boyhood. They could all be starring in a film called Beautiful Boy, as their white skin is smooth and their jawlines strong. Gone are the teenagers who are imperfect with graphic flaws, or even have blemishes that feel remotely relatable. While acne helped Lady Bird and Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade feel much closer to reality, the beauty of these teenage boys makes their self-inflicted suffering all the more interesting to watch. Nic comes from a wealthy family, with a big house with wood paneling and endless streams of sunlight. His bone structure is sharp and his hair is thick and shiny. The damage he suffers disregards the world that was given to him, from a comfortable household that encouraged an easy life. 

Jared’s home is equally sturdy, and his body is strong. Along with the other boys at the gay conversion center, Love In Action, he’s attractive in an effortless and endearing way, which invites bodies toward his own. But the more he appeals and the more he feels, the more his mind is poisoned with a sense of failing. 

Stevie hides behind a mop of clean brown hair and bounces around tirelessly to make up for the few inches in height he’s still lacking. His big blue eyes and cheeky smile make it easier for people to fall for him, but, like Nic, a skinny frame is something that makes him more vulnerable to bouts of self-destruction. The boys aren’t big enough, strong enough, or cool enough, so the natural qualities that make them lovable are ignored, in their introspective mission to punish themselves for all the things they’re still lacking.

Introspection makes romance a tricky topic for teenage boys who suffer before they are satisfied. At an age where hormones dictate most of the decisions they make, the young men have had a taste of sex and the feelings that come of it, without still really being influenced by the power (good or bad) of human connection. It’s only a traumatic experience that allows Jared to start questioning his sexuality, which even for the first few months of conversion therapy is still only considered as a smear on his life. Loving another person isn’t a priority when a person feels alien in their own body. Nic has a girlfriend over time who comes and goes, because he’s not in a position to take care of himself or give her the love they both deserve. Stevie has an encounter with an older teen, which, if it were a 13-year-old girl in his place, could be potentially problematic. But she represents one of many stepping stones on a quest of friendship and fun that doesn’t ultimately impact Stevie’s ambition. The boys reject affection and romantic relationships, rather than forcing their partners to engage. The fact that they live with solitude is a shame, but it’s indicative of a self-absorbed lifestyle which is still too immature to share feeling with another person. To have that awareness rather than inflicting trauma on those who fall for them is a welcome relief.

By exploring the psyche of teenage boys who are catatonically tormented on their own, the upcoming slate of teen movies allows a distance that harms only the protagonists at the center. Mid90s is infused with a nostalgia for an era of iconic pop culture, but Stevie’s battles stand alone with the tenacious crashes that decide his coming of age. There’s no romanticism in the youth of Boy Erased or Beautiful Boy, which cares for their characters without pretending adolescence was any easier than life is now. The demons that haunt Jared don’t disappear—as he grows up, they transform into the very sign of love that defines who he is. Nic is, as far as we know, learning to live with his pain too. It’s not something he has grown out of, as rehabilitation never rules out relapse, but his disease has inevitably impacted the person he has become. As Stevie breaks his bones and screams his fears, he confronts and surpasses problems that don’t need to limit him. In five or 10 years, he might look back at the boy who suffered to be the man he is now and thank him for his pain. It’s like the saying goes, without really giving justification for the frustration, boys will be boys, no matter how much they, or we, try to fight against it.

Boy Erased, Mid90s, and Beautiful Boy are in theaters now.

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Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube www.youtube.com

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

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Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale youtu.be

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

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Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.

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