I’ve been meaning to do a Learn From This for The Great Gatsby for a while now. I’m an unabashed Baz Luhrmann fan, and there really wasn’t a director I could think of who was better suited stylistically to match the opulence, excesses, vacuousness and conspicuous consumption of the Hamptons in the Jazz Age. While the movie seems to have polarized the critics, it’s been fascinating to me – an excellent adaptation of an incredibly internal and introspective novel.
It is also a great meditation on several themes that have a lot of meaning for me, personally: the artificial construct that is identity, the need for authenticity and, of course, a man who simply cannot let go of the past or the dream of the girl he once knew. In many ways, Gatsby presents an excellent metaphor for young men who get caught up in the player or Pick-Up Artist lifestyle, trying to emulate the life that they think others are leading and only finding the reality to be vastly different1 in the end.
(Hopefully without vehicular manslaughter and a murder-suicide at the end.)
So let’s take a look at what we can learn from The Great Gatsby, shall we?
- Oh God, I think I just found parallels between The Great Gatsby and Neil Strauss’ The Game… you can take the man out of the English degree… [↩]