Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Valley Girl: For. Like. Ever.

I have such a profound love / hate relationship with the San Fernando Valley, one that in many ways owes much to the movie Valley Girl which turns 25 today. I am 26, making me just over a year old when this movie came out and ohh how it has haunted my every interaction with persons not from Southern California and sometimes, yes, even those who are from the Valley.

For years I resisted the assertion that I was "from the Valley" since I was born in Glendale and grew up in the foothills, but I realize this is a murky subject indeed. Wikipedia says that Glendale "lies at the eastern end of the San Fernando Valley" but since it's such an entity unto itself, I don't really buy that it's part of of "the Val". The Valley has always had an air of mischeif and carefree fun associated with it, while Glendale is very much Squaresville, U.S.A. I suppose it's hard to be cool though when you're surrounded by the indie-bastions of Silver Lake and Echo Park to the south, the old money of Pasadena to the east, and the mega-star-wattage of Burbank to the west. But if you want to experience one of the best Cuban bakeries West of the Mississippi, then Glendale's totally your place.

At any rate, even if you haven't seen the movie, you know the stereotypes: big hair, leg warmers, bangles, frequent mall excursions, needless and excessive use of the word like. These days it seems like everyone and their mother (literally) throws around like innappropriately... even if they hail from Terra Haute. Every once and a while I'll be told I sound "Valley" and depending on who's saying it, I take this as a vaguely homophobic slur, since the men who populate Valley Girl or Val-dudes as they call them, sound more like wasted surfers from Orange County and not so much like their female counter parts.

In reality, the "Valley accent" has always been feminized and made the default sound for idiotic characters from SNL to The Ali G Show. This, despite the fact that two of the women who had the most to do with popularizing this stereotype - Moon Unit Zappa and the Julie character from Valley Girl - couldn't be less like your "typical" Valley girl. They've got things like, uh, career longevity, and uh, wit, and ummm, integrity. It's slightly mystifying how homos and Valley girls became conflated - pehaps it's their mutual affinity for being part of a consumer culture - but let it be known that when I open my mouth, that's not val-speak you're hearing; it's the sound of a cock hitting the back of my throat.

I can't believe that I'm about to say this, but the LA paper The Daily News has a pretty good article today on where Valley girls are 25 years later and who their modern counterparts are. No surprise that Valley girls are no longer just annoying white girls, but now there's a helluva lot of annoying Latino girls, annoying Asian girls, and a few annoying black girls. Meanwhile, the elder statesladies of the Valley are still hanging out at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, but this once great mall is now an outdoor mixed use shopping experience that barely has any stores and comes complete with the world's shittiest Arclight Cinema. My how times have changed.

My favorite moment, though, comes when the reporter for the Daily News asks some young Valley-ites how they identify these days:

But Sonia and her friends Natalie Beron and Emelia Nuryyeva, also 15, say they don't call themselves Valley Girls anymore.
Ventura Kids, maybe. And in a way, they say they wish they were from that time.

"A lot of girls are really mean nowadays," Sonia said.

Uh, and they weren't back then? Sonia my love, rent Valley Girl just for my amusement and witness the scene where Julie's supposed best friend Loryn sleeps with Julie's boyfriend Tommy at a houseparty. Ugh, totally brutal.


lkbom said...

Don't you take everything I say as a homophobic slur?

I don't consider you a Valley girl, anyway. You're brunette. You just wouldn't understand.

Baptizedingin said...

Yes. Yes I do you bigoty bigot.

And for your information, each time we speak it feels like I'm shitting a knife, that's all.