#1 The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reasons For Being Banned/Challenged: Challenged at the Baptist College in Charleston, SC (1987) because of “language and sexual references in the book.”
My Rating: 2 judging eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleburg
I really like this idea of having a song go with each blog post, giving you a tiny playlist with each read. So I hope you like them too, because this is going to be a regular thing. I was also gonna play “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody,” but I just thought it was too soon (RIP Myrtle).
So I read this baby of a book — only about 100 pages — in high school. I also got to watch the 2000 made-for-TV movie of it with Paul Rudd as Nick Carraway; so much better than Tobey Maguire. When I read this classic in high school, I felt like it was a lot longer and a lot more awesome than I did the second time. Now, don’t get me wrong. I still love F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby, but honestly, everyone in this book is just a dick.
But before I talk about that, lets talk about why it was challenged: sexual references. Sexual references? Really? Not the overload of drinking and making bad decisions, the absolute disregard to marriage vows, or the murder? Now, I don’t believe in banning/challenging books, but come on. If you’re gonna push for a book to not be read, get a better reason. Because there really aren’t any sexual references anywhere. Okay, there is one. But you can easily miss it if you are a high schooler and reading this (because honestly, you only read this book in high school too).
What’s the line?
[Gatsby] took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously — eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
Cool your jets, Scotty! Kids can’t handle all that sex! It’s so vivid and real. All them kids there that be getting educated learning about the sex having in classic literature. Damn Gatsby, falling in love with Daisy and then having sexual relations with that woman. Gatsby is a sexual fiend. I can totally understand South Carolina’s disgust with it.
Anyway, as I stated earlier, I did not remember everyone being total dicks in The Great Gatsby. I mean, everyone sucks. The Jazz Age should be remembered as “Dickheads R Us” with Tom Buchanan as the mayor. Honestly, how the hell does he get the audacity to be pissed at Gatsby for being in love with his wife while he has a secret love apartment with another woman? And is also abusive? Hi, yeah. Remember that part, kids? He beat the shit out of Myrtle one time for saying Daisy’s name.
And Daisy. What can I say about her? Oh yeah, she’s the worst. She’s a passive aggressive snob who thinks having old money makes her better than everyone else. On top of that, she is officially the world’s worst driver. Hello, she killed a her husband’s mistress and simply drove away without stopping. If that’s not a PSA against drinking and driving, I don’t know what is.
And Gatsby’s like, “It doesn’t matter, I still love her! I’ll take the blame! I love her.” She also doesn’t have her priorities in check. Do you remember that she has a daughter? Because she sure as hell doesn’t. And then when she does, she says stupid crap like this:
I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.
Very nice, Daisy. Sending feminism back to the stone age with that line. She is basically saying that women can do nothing but look beautiful and act stupid. You go, girl! And she just leaves Gatsby. Without a care in the world. I mean, sure, she didn’t know that he was murdered, but still. If she loved him, she would have stayed. When Tom was all, “Pack your bags, we’re Audi 5000,” she could have pulled a Bartleby and been like, “I prefer not to.” And then gotten emaciated and died under a tree. That’s how it should of ended. Damn you, Fitzgerald! I don’t really understand what Gatsby loved so much about her.
He pined for her for five years. He tried to make something of himself solely to be with her. And she thanks him by marrying Tom the Dickhead. Poor Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is how Aladdin would have played out if it wasn’t made by Disney. Poor boy falls in love with rich girl so he does whatever it takes to become rich and win her heart — be it becoming a bootlegger or getting a genie and magic lamp.
But that’s where these two stories fork. Because Aladdin does get the girl and the money and to stay alive. Poor Gatsby gets nothing. He gets shot by his — get ready for this one — love’s husband’s mistress’ husband. The first and only time Gatsby goes swimming, and he gets killed. He gets nobody at his funeral after everybody mooched off him and his wild and crazy parties. He gets the catchphrase “Old sport” and says it so many times that Tom actually shouts at him for it.
And Nick is the sassiest man of the 1920s. He throws so much shade at everyone it’s hard to believe that he made any friends and got a girlfriend that one tragic summer. There were times where I outright laughed at his quick wit and sarcastic banter. What made it better was that half the time, nobody else picked up on it and I pictured Nick just rolling his eyes in anguish.
But was Nick and Gatsby as good of friends as Nick says? I don’t know. He doesn’t see that Gatsby became friends with him to get to Daisy. He never questions their friendship. Plus, they’ve only been friends for three months. Is that enough time for a guy to be like, “Gatsby’s story must be told! And I’m the one to tell it!”? He even says, “I disapproved of him from beginning to end.” Thanks, best friend. I’m taking my East Egg/West Egg friendship necklace back.
In the end, I do actually love this book. It shows how money corrupts people, living in the past can ruin your life, and trying to change yourself to impress others won’t make you happier. Fitzgerald took his era and revealed its flaws. He took the American Dream and dissected it. It is a masterpiece.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning —
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Want to read along with me?
Check out the Banned Books Challenge page to see my progress!