Arts, Column

Tina Fey: Comedian or Life Coach?

If there’s one thing Spring Break 2016 has taught me, it’s that Tina Fey should quit her day job.

Now, before an angry mob of devoted Fey fans assembles, I entreat you to put down your torches and pitchforks and just listen to me for a minute. It’s no secret that the writer/producer/actress is doing exceptionally well in the entertainment realm and should therefore stay right where she is. What I propose, however, is that the beloved comedienne could also do exceptionally well as a life coach if she really wanted to.

It’s not often that a mediocre comedy makes me contemplate my future. I seldom ruminate over films that take their titles from some silly military jargon like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. For me, at least, an innocent trip to the movie theater rarely turns into some type of existential crisis. But folks, there sure is a first time for everything.

Alright, so maybe the word “crisis” is a bit too extreme. I certainly didn’t feel like all my long-held aspirations were suddenly rendered meaningless. This wasn’t an overly dramatic calamity that hurled all my hopes and dreams into the all-consuming abyss. I’d say it was more of a brief existential hiccup, a self-analytical x-ray, if you will. Whatever it was, though, it really did get me thinking.

Ever since I was old enough to understand that working for The New York Times was a pretty big deal—for me, this was probably around 8 years old—I’ve wanted to do just that. At the time, my best friend was going to become a ballerina when she grew up, my second-grade crush wanted to be the next Manny Ramirez, and there I was— a pint-sized pipsqueak who wanted to be a Times editor.

Now, I know how this sounds, but I promise this isn’t as pathetic as it seems— as far as occupations for word nerds go, the Times is the most glamorous pipe dream out there.

In Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Fey plays Kim Baker, the fictionalized version of New York Times reporter and author Kim Barker. Whiskey is the comedic film adaptation of Barker’s stirring memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The film is smart, profound, and genuinely funny when it needs to be. It even has all the makings of your average, enjoyable rom com: girl sets out to see the world, girl meets boy, boy is captured by a group of radical Islamic terrorists—you know, the usual.

While there’s no question the film focuses primarily on the struggles of life in war-ravaged Afghanistan, there’s another kind of survival intertwined in the plotline, which makes Kim’s unique situation a lot more relatable that it seems: the unrelenting battle for a fulfilling life.

When it comes to her bleak desk-job, repetitive gym routine, and rather mundane daily schedule, Kim just can’t deal. She needs excitement. She craves taking wild risks, and she thirsts for adventure. Kim has no kids, a sleazy boyfriend that viewers don’t like from the minute his coy smile flashes onscreen, and that nagging reminder that she’s only getting older. Pretty bleak stuff, right?

The thing is, she’s a New York Times journalist. She doesn’t hate her job, but she doesn’t love it, either. And isn’t that worse? If all she feels once she snags that dream job is an unfulfilling restlessness, isn’t it a bit disheartening that the only sentiments she has for her life’s work culminate in an uninterested shoulder shrug, an apathetic “meh?”

Cue the familiar “Am I doing any of this right?” feeling that gnawed away at my psyche just as soon as I thought I had it all figured out. How do you know if the life you’ve always wanted will end up being the one you can’t wait to escape? More importantly, how do you realize this before it’s too late?

The answer is simple: you don’t. And there’s no sense in worrying about it, either. That’s what I think, anyway. You might graduate with a nursing degree, wake up one day, and experience some inexplicable epiphany that persuades you to become a big-time business mogul. It’s the guess-and-check method, but for adults.

Sure, you might have spent years of schooling and paid exorbitant tuition dollars just to change your whole plan, but that’s the cool thing about life. It goes on, and it can’t—shouldn’t—be meticulously calculated.

Even if it could be, where’s the fun in that?

Featured Image By Paramount Pictures

March 16, 2016

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