As a Midwestern, 22-year old, 5'8" college student, I've got being average down to a science. Like most average college students, I'm immersed in pop culture. I watch a lot of TV (mostly on hung-over Fridays), I listen to a lot of music and I go to a lot of movies. It's what we average folks do. Meaningful charity work is for the elite. I'd rather spend my time concocting new drinking games around West Wing episodes.
As Miss Average Midwest 2003, I'm not the least bit interested in world peace. My priorities are listening to the new Dido album, because she's great; ordering three large pizzas and spending hours in front of West Wing marathons, because it's a great show; and watching famous people in movies because they're great.
As an average college-age adult, I know I fall in the bull's-eye of the Hollywood radar. Everything we dedicate our time and money toward — from CDs to TV shows, movies to concerts — is an attempt to escape the ordinary, and we find that escape in the most unlikely places.
The best film of the year, the one that speaks to Miss Averages everywhere, is the hybrid musical, From Justin to Kelly. The concept is brilliantly familiar: Take the two finalists from the TV amateur showcase American Idol, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, who obviously connect with each other due to their lack of successful music careers, have them play cheese-coated versions of themselves and make an 81-minute long music video that passes as a movie.
From Justin to Kelly claims zero originality, which is why it's top of the Miss Average charts. The few people who actually watched the movie, including me (numerous times), know that Kelly and Justin (we always call them by their first names) are great actors because they're so naturally clumsy and ordinary.
Kelly's voice zips up and down the octaves like Whitney Houston on speed while she's singing, yet stays monotone throughout her dialogue with Justin. She acts the way I imagine I would in a movie, especially when people start rapping mid-sentence. I love her for boosting my ego.
Granted, the physical dynamic between spring breakers and would-be lovers Justin and Kelly is as hot as the bottle of vodka I keep in my freezer. But I place little value on fairy tale romances, with or without Paris Hilton.
Most serious critics embrace heavyweight actors like Sean Penn, but what translates to average people is mediocrity. I fail regularly, and I enjoy when people who are great in one thing embarrass themselves in another.
Pop stars trying to be movie stars are personal heroes of mine: sex kitten Britany Spears, her ex-boyfriend Justin Timberlake and the queen of career stumbles, dancer/singer/model/ designer/etc. Jennifer Lopez (always call her "Jenny from the Block"), who keeps screwing up again and again and again, culminating in the camp classic Gigli, co-starring her on-again/off-again boyfriend Ben Affleck.
Director Martin Brest (who's he?) combines parts of Bonnie and Clyde, Rain Man and The Vagina Monologues into a movie that's essentially about Affleck persuading lesbians to sleep with him. J-Lo acts gangster-like by dropping "fuck" into every sentence as if she were Tony Soprano, then becomes the G-string feminist by praising the glories of vaginas while doing a very sultry yoga session.
Jenny from the Block smirks throughout Gigli. It's her way of telling audiences it's OK to laugh at the scenes. That smirk, more than her trademark burrito-bursting rear end, is the key to her shiny star power.
Kelly, still America's idol in my charts, might sing better than the electronically synthesized Jenny from the Block, but Jenny takes care of her fans by putting more stuff in her movies. I can sum up From Justin to Kelly in one sentence, but it takes an entire paragraph to explain Gigli, not to mention the latest reports on her status with Ben.
People deride Jenny from the Block as a glorified karaoke machine, which leads me to this public declaration: I'd like to invite her to the next campus bar karaoke night to sing a duet with me. I know it will be awesome because I like her movie. Maybe not as much as From Justin to Kelly, but hey, that's a classic.
Look for columns by Miss Average Midwest in the premiere issue of Teen Midwest Living.