The Trailer For Josh Radnor’s ‘Liberal Arts’ Looks Very Annoying, Plus A Rant About Liberal Arts

by 7 years ago

Basic storyline is as follows. Young guy grows a beard, thus demonstrating he thinks about sh*t more in depth than you do. He then returns to his alma-mater, a place where self-actualization is promoted through being as impractical as possible. To go along with this theme, he meets a quirky yet beautiful yet quirky yet equally intelligent yet quirky girl, whose only problem is that she is also sixteen years younger than the Josh Radnor manchild. Channeling his true liberal arts spirit, Radnor digresses into an identity crisis of the whitest proportions, “learning about himself” through Elizabeth Olsen's consistent challenging of the status quo. Is he a grown-up, will he ever be a grown-up, why ever bother being a grown-up when you've been privy to having an SAT tutor? Apparently, we must watch to find out.

What I hate about this trailer is that its actually good. The story is believable (likely loosely based on Radnor's experience, having attended Kenyon College himself), its a Sundance favorite, and it seems to be the type of movie that makes one think about things in a way we're traditionally geared not to. Yes it takes itself way too seriously, but that's also every drama that has ever existed. Not to mention, Elizabeth Olsen is someone we'd feature in a slideshow almost every day if we could. That sounded much creepier than it intended to be, but you get the point. 

So why does this suck? For one, it reinforces the notion that a liberal arts education–and liberal arts schools–are somehow more meaningful than every other life experience. What I basically got out of this was “If you didn't spend four years in the middle of nowhere with 2,000 other people who avoided listening to the billboard top 20 at all costs, you aren't really worthy of anything that 'really matters'” And secondly, it seems to be very cool with waiting until age 35 to “figure it all out.”  The economy and sh*t, but this part is a bit much. While yes, its now getting nearly impossible to have a decently paying job that doesn't involve a suit, an excel spreadsheet, and an increasing sense of self-pity and digust, doing that at 35 is what used to be called a mid-life crisis. 

Note, this isn't a rant against hipster vibes of liberal arts schools. While its certainly true that places like the college depicted in this trailer share a rare affinity for reading, PBR, and acknowledging emotions, they also double as Bro-havens to highest degree. Given the fact that NESCAC schools and the like have proportionally more athletes than large Universities, a lot of these places actually boast more in-class sweatpants/backwards hats per capita than anywhere else in the country. Honestly, I often regret not going to a liberal arts school myself. The blogger/backwards trucker hat combo would've killed it to no end. 

So then, what's all the fuss about? Well, the problem here is that there's problems that aren't really problems, and the REAL problem is that this movie will likely be very good, despite not being about anything that matters. Which is after all, the entire point of indepedent film. Hooray. 


TAGSElizabeth OlsenFirst world problemsJosh Radnor