Pictures of success.
A friend in college gave me a mixed CD of music from the ’90s, with one unfamiliar song from 2001; the band was Rilo Kiley, the song, “Pictures of Success”:
I’m a modern girl, but I fold in half so easily/ When I put myself in the picture of success/ I could learn world trade or try to map the ocean…It must be nice to finish, when you’re dead…
I’ve had it with you, and Mexico can fucking wait/ And all of those French films about trains/ Because I’m not scared, but I’d like some extra spare time/ I’m not scared, but the bills keep changing colors…
Call it latent angst manifesting, but the dark song spoke to me: the lyrics are just the right combination of girly, angry, sweet, and disaffected. The melody coasts along, sweeping into blending guitar harmonies. I played it over and over again in my little dorm room, but being that I’m an incurious type, I never searched for more music from the band until recently (about ten years later). That’s when I discovered a delightful piece of information: the girl who played the love interest of Fred Savage in the awesome gaming movie Wizard was the lead singer of Rilo Kiley. Her name is Jenny Lewis.
Her modern incarnation is a far cry from the hi-jinks of Troop Beverly Hills, but I’m so wowed that a little actress I looked up to when I was five turned into a talented woman by whom I’m still awed. It made me think of another redhead that I always admired in films: Robyn Lively.
My dad bought the VHS tape of The Karate Kid, Part III somewhere in the early ’90s there. Daniel-san’s girlfriend, played by Robyn Lively, was young, nice, pretty, and sweet—I wanted her to be my babysitter, and I also wanted her gorgeous curly red hair. And then there was the whole Teen Witch craze (“Top that!”) that in my five-year-old mind made the actress even cooler. I looked her up on IMDB to see if she still made movies; however, she seems to be doing more TV. And after scrolling down her filmography, I was shocked to discover I had seen her pretty recently and had not known it.
That suburban power-mom hairdo completely threw me, as well as her disgruntled, contorted face of pure indignation. How did they even think of her for that role, kind, lovely, calm Robyn Lively? Versatility must come with age, because I never remember her in a role that demanded such pettiness, and yet she pulled it off so well.
Looking at the career arcs of these two women makes me wonder what I’ll be doing ten years down the road, and if I’ll love what I’m do. It used to be quite easy to point to people and say “I wanna be like that when I grow up.” But here I am, grown, and struggling to find a simple role model. I guess my criteria have widened from just “pretty” and “sweet.” And “nice hair.”