The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Calvin Trillin is a man with an interesting job. He wanders all over the United States for the New Yorker magazine and files dispatches about what our fellow Americans are up to in Duluth, Altoona, Cincinnati, and all the Holiday Inns and Howard Johnson's in between. At one time or another he has studied the life styles of Paul Anderson (world's champion weight lifter) and Fats Cohen (world's champion pizza eater, until a recent diet).
During spring vacation this year, he wandered down to Fort Lauderdale and Daytona Beach to check out the life styles of the college students who annually migrate there. In the course of his investigation he asked himself, he says, whether the time had actually come when one felt nostalgia at the sight of a Phi Delta Theta sweatshirt?
Like a lot of good observations, that one uses very few words to imply an entire state of mind. The whole world of the late 1950s and early 1960s (when Trillin doubtless saw many such sweatshirts, as well as garments bearing the emblem of the Betas, the Sigma Chis and so on) is supposed to have been rendered obsolete by the plague of war, assassination and social misery that has descended on us since.
And yet, if we can buy the Big Band Sound from Time-Life records and pick up reprints of old Liberty magazines at the newsstand, is it not permitted to feel nostalgic for the slightly more recent past of rush weeks, exchanges, pledge classes, chapter meetings? Just the other day, I saw a girl wearing a fraternity pin on her sweater, and the whole big 1960 thing about fraternity pins (and sweaters) came rushing back to me.