My favorite movie is and always will be Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is also entirely the reason that I wanted to live in New York City. And it really is the perfect introduction to/metaphor for the city. And here are some reasons why (spoiler alert, although if you haven’t see the movie yet, you’re dead to me):
Her name isn’t Holly Golightly and his name isn’t Fred. Oh the facades, throughout the movie, in a million lime-lit ways! And how much do you ever really know about anyone in New York? Here in Abu Dhabi, I constantly feel as if everyone and their mom knows me and I could never get away with pretending to be anyone else. But in New York? I could be anyone I wanted to be. And I could treat others as if they were whoever I wanted them to be and make them fit into any compartment that I wanted them to fit into. A glorious and tragic habit, bittersweet and so New York. (And of course the facades all crumble eventually. But it’s debatable if they ever disappear completely.)
Her “realness” is openly discussed. One of my favorite quotes in the movie is when O.J. Berman asks Fred-baby, “Is she or ain’t she?” In regards to whether or not she is a phony. And after Fred says she isn’t, he replies, “You’re wrong. She is a phony. But on the other hand you’re right. She’s a real phony. Because she honestly believes all this phony junk that she believes.” And if that doesn’t sum up every single New Yorker (read: human, because New York is a microcosm of the world?) than I don’t know what does. People are totally in their own bubbles and ignore 99% of the clues around them. But we’re also so ingrained in the bubbles that they become reality. And the phonys who do it as openly as Holly did are the ones we worship the most, no?
Mickey Rooney pretends he is Asian. The whitest actor ever attempts to be Japanese and it is totally inappropriate. And that is totally New York. It was pointed out that I am white every single time I walked to work when I worked/lived near the projects. I stuck out like a sore thumb, just like Mickey Rooney’s weird fake teeth. My race was usually accepted pleasantly and humorously, with greetings along the lines of: “How you doin, white girl.” Then, occasionally, it infuriated people along the lines of :”Where you going, white devil!” On many levels, I find New York’s constant gentrification totally inappropriate. But I totally did it anyways. Just like Mickey Rooney.
“What do you do, anyway?” “…I’m a writer, I guess.” This quotation is fantastic. Especially his ambivalence about his vocation. And what New Yorker couldn’t answer the same way?
She ends up crying in an alley. This iconic scene is totally metaphoric for so many moments in New York. Where you’re looking for a cat, who represents you and whom you cruelly threw out in the rain, and suddenly you feel too human and you’re causing yourself pain and oh the pain! And you burst into tears. All that nonsense about a man coming to make it all better is not very New York, which is why I prefer the novella version. But that is perhaps a story for another entry… (Short version: Fred never makes a move in the book. Capote even has a bit about how there are different kinds of love, i.e. it’s not at all sexual for Fred.) The point is that we all end up crying in an alley over cats without names.