Haven’t spent much time in Los Angeles? No big deal. You probably already know everything there is to know about us Angelenos. In fact, I’m only writing this to confirm the core truth of all those passé stereotypes (with maybe a couple footnotes expanding on some of their particular nuances—not that there’s much nuance in a place as superficial L.A.)
Hold on just a sec while I finish potting this succulent, call my dog’s nanny, perform a quick smudging ritual, and eat six avocados for lunch. OK, great. Let’s get started.
I’m a health nut who subsists on cold-pressed juice and kale.1
I’m friends with famous people.2
I’m slim and fit and super tan.3
I mostly talk about the freeways I had to take to get to where I am.4
I spend half my life sitting in my car stuck in traffic.5
I’m an aspiring screenwriter.6
I’m super laid-back.7
I’m a coastal elite.8
I’m a Hollywood elite.9
I feel a compulsion to define myself in opposition to these supposed stereotypes while simultaneously kind of cherishing them.10
1 In fact, I’m enough of a health nut to know that kale is packed with a bunch of impossible-to-digest-unless-steamed insoluble fiber that could wreak havoc on my small intestine. But you know what? I’m still ordering a side of kale with my sorrel pesto rice bowl because it’s so good dressed with olive oil and lemon and a little salt. And, yeah, I have the nutritional savvy to recognize that the $10 juice I’m currently chugging might not have the borderline-magical nutritional benefits it purports to have, but it’s delicious so whatever.
2 By which I mean I’m at most three degrees of separation removed from Kevin Bacon and once ran into Rami Malek in a Trader Joe’s.
3 The implicit assumption here being that I, the spurious voice of generic Angelenohood, am a youngish white person with a blond topknot and designer sunglasses, when in actuality the “average” Angeleno is probably a middle-aged Latina who works in admin for the LAUSD or something. It’s here that we bump up against the problem of representation, because all these stereotypes ultimately stem from an ouroboros of media depiction fueling stereotypes fueling media depiction, and it seems we’re trapped in an infinite regress where the default Angeleno is either Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone. Which is why we need mores shows like Vida and Insecure.
4 Everyone’s life is filled with mundane small talk and, besides, nothing brings people together like shared petty gripes. Everywhere else in the world those gripes are about the weather, but here the weather is usually excellent, so the only complaint we’re left with is the fact that an accident on the 5 forced us to take the 710 to the 10 to the 101 instead of our usual route.
5 If by “car,” you mean “the Metro” and by “traffic,” you mean, “all that congestion I blow past on my bike every day,” then yeah.
6 Obviously the whole point of this article is to slyly negate the underlying assumption of each stereotype through some sort of underhanded pseudo-affirmation, and yet here I have to ditch the whole M.O. because so many of us are genuinely trying to make it in some corner of the industry. It’s not just writers and actors. It’s camera operators and production designers and casting directors and the like. And yeah, we all realize it’s a long shot, but we also realize that making a decent living in this business is an attainable goal. So while it’s easy to mock your Lyft driver’s Hollywood aspirations once you step out of the car, a bit of introspection may reveal that you’re actually jealous of their courage—that you’re projecting your own nagging dissatisfaction with your bland AF desk job and secretly resent them for throwing pragmatism to the wind and pursuing their dream. You talk shit on them to feel better about yourself. Which, I get it. I’m the same way. I mean, look at me talking shit on you to feel better about myself right now. Man, now I feel gross.
7 *has crippling panic attack*
8 And yet somehow, my vote in a presidential election is worth less than a third of the vote of a resident of Wyoming—the state I fly over on my way to visit family in the bustling metropolis of Bismarck.
9 See note 6.
10 It’s that paradoxical desire to both stand out and fit it which—in the age of social media especially—has been exploited to drive engagement with everything from sneaker brands to regional magazine articles serving ads for luxury resorts.