Today's Evil Beet Gossip

Quotables: Patton Oswalt on Bullying

Photo: Patton Oswalt with Charlize Theron and 'Young Adult' director Jason Reitman

“I don’t even want to tell people, ‘It gets better.’ I want to just go, ‘It’s over in four years.’ It’s, literally, the day after you graduate, you could run into people you went to high school with and you will literally both go, ‘What the f—k was that all about? Jesus Christ, I’m sorry, man.’ It literally ends like that, if you let it. Because you know what everyone is in high school, whether you’re gay or straight or male or female, you know what you are? You’re a f—king high schooler! And a high schooler is an unnatural state of existence, and it’s not humanity, and it’s not real life.”

—Nerd hero Patton Oswalt, who costars with Charlize Theron in Young Adult, on bullying. (It’s a really fascinating interview.)

I can appreciate where Oswalt is going with this idea, I think. I once played in a rock band at a junior high dance—no kidding—and afterward, three pre-teen girls who, uh, knew all the words to Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” approached me. And these were the tough, cool outcasts (I was not a tough, cool outcast in junior high, just a dweeb), and one girl said to me, “It gets better, right? In high school? That’s what everyone says.”

And another girl piped up, “Yeah! In high school we’ll find our ‘niche.'”

Oh, boy. The only thing uglier than high school is junior high, maybe.

And I said to these kids something like, oh, man, there will always be people who suck. But you will eventually go away to college and finally form your all-girl punk band and you will never have to talk to those other people again, so start working on music right now.

And then the girls were really excited and wanted to tell me all these supercool band names they had already come up with in a spiral notebook they shared. (Which, as everyone knows, is the crucial first step in forming any band.)

In retrospect, and this might counter Oswalt’s very nice quote, I do think little pieces of junior high come back to haunt you (especially if you work in an office, which has its own ecosystem and its own BMOCs). But you already survived high school, which—as Oswalt says—is populated with high schoolers, yuck. And survivors are tough cookies. So get to work and forge, forge ahead, all ye beleaguered.

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