Welcome to the Dollhouse
A reader wrote in a comment:
Lion: can you do a LOTB post about the film “Welcome to the Dollhouse”. The proles featured in the film were likely very similar to the proles you grew up with. The film really lets the viewer get a sense of prole values and how the differ from true middle class values.
I took the reader up on his suggestion.
This movie was released in 1995, but I think it takes place in the late 1980s, in a prole white area of New Jersey. The main character, Dawn (a 7th grade student) is from a Jewish family. Yes, there are prole Jews.
What can I add that wasn’t addressed in the review by Roger Ebert?
I thought the movie was very accurate. I thought while watching the movie, that’s just like what my junior high school was like, that’s just how the interior of my house looked (or the houses of my friends). People speak with prole accents that, if anything, are toned down compared to how real proles in the New York City area spoke thirty years ago.
Among prole kids from that era, the worst possible insult is to be a “faggot.” At school, Dawn is in physical danger from the other kids, and the school staff seems oblivious to the problem. It seems pretty familiar. If the apathy of the school staff is exaggerated for the sake of dark comedy, it’s only very slightly exaggerated.
It’s my interpretation that the reason why the older brother is obsessed with getting into a good college is to cover up his social inadequacies. No girl will date him because he’s a nerdy beta-male, but by pretending that the girls aren’t good enough for him and that he has more important things to do like build up his resume for college applications, it boosts his self-esteem. Additionally, he no doubt has a genuine desire to get the hell out of his parents’ social class and sees college as the way to do that.
I assume that the movie is partially autobiographical. Todd Solondz, the screenwriter and director, is said to be from Newark, NJ, which is a pretty prole part of New Jersey. The hell he experienced in junior high school as a smart nerdy kid amongst proles is probably just like what Dawn experienced.
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Commenter Otis asks:
Would even prole Jewish parents scorn their 2 bookworm children in favor of their princessy daughter? The mom and dad loved Misty but didn’t care at all about Dawn and her brother. I can’t imagine Jewish parents being like that.
Prole Jews don’t behave much differently than prole gentiles. Proles have lower investment parenting compared to SWPLs. Dawn’s prole parents are content to let her and her brother sink or swim on their own.
Yes, the parents love Misty the most because she is what prole parents want in a child; she is physically attractive and has a winning gender-appropriate personality. She is destined to be one of the popular girls when she’s Dawn’s age.
Dawn’s older brother is nerdy and unpopular, but at least he’s smart. Dawn has nothing going for her at all. She’s not pretty, she’s not athletic, she’s not especially smart, and she has an awkward and moody personality: unlike her younger sister who always says the right thing, Dawn is always saying the wrong things.