The Undergraduate

June 9, 2011 07:18:09 Posted at June 9, 2011 07:18:09
Lainey Posted by Lainey

Written by Duana

When Lainey went to St. Andrews this spring and got all romantical about the Ivy covered buildings and how hard she would study if she were there, I empathized and also rolled my eyes.

My tastes have always run more to the American hallowed halls – I have sweatshirts from Harvard and Yale despite never having attended either – but as much as I believe those Ivy-covered walls would be intoxicating, I’m not under the impression that I – or Lainey, for that matter – would be turned suddenly into a studious, quiet being, wrapped up for hours in Chaucer, for months in Flaubert. Both she and I are too social, too wrapped up in fun, to abandon that part of university life. As much as I have Rory Gilmore aspirations, I know myself well enough to know I couldn’t make over my entire personality.

Emma Watson, though – for her, I had hopes.

Her new interview with the Sunday Times addresses the reason she left Brown University. Go read. I’ll wait.

I really don’t know what to think.

The pertinent information is that she didn’t leave because of bullying. In fact, she scoffs at the idea that a couple of people saying “Wingardium Leviosa” would make her up and quit school. And, despite the rampant popularity of those stories, I tend to agree with her. I don’t buy for a second that an actor in a gigantic franchise, who would have gotten instruction for years on everything from the exact level of frizz of her hair to whether Hermione was or was not allowed to grow out of the previous film’s sweater size, would be thrown by that kind of ‘teasing’. An overachieving-geeky teen acknowledging that that’s what you’re best known for, probably shyly and half-reverentially? Not that big a deal.

The truth is a lot harder to pin down. She’s…vague. She left because she tried to ignore who she was, how famous she was, and then she came to accept it.

Does that mean no paparazzi would leave her alone on campus? That she could never meet someone new because they always knew who she was before she met them? That she really missed the working world, and was bored as a student?

Is it something more insidious?

“I kind of have to accept who I am, the position that I’m in, and what happened.”

That she didn’t have enough teenage experiences and now she’s behind her peers and can’t relate to them, despite their similar age? In the article she talks about how rarely she gets drunk, that her friends had to convince her to do so on her 21st birthday. Did Emma just not fit in? Did she know how to relate to kids who never worked a day in their lives?

What if she wasn’t prepared for the Ivy League Education she wanted? Emma went to school of course, and I’m in no way saying she couldn’t keep up, but when you’re balancing a pupilship at school when you’re in school (as well as trying to participate in school life and not just be a ghost-student) and 3 hours of daily tutoring when you’re on set, it’s largely about making sure you pass tests and hit deadlines, and far less about encouraging intellectual curiosity and stamina that might be necessary for a thesis or long-term project or trying to figure out what it is you’re going to DO with all this information in front of you. Emma is, of course, not Hermione. What if she didn’t want to spend hours on end in the library? Who is she then?

Then add to that the fact that your classmates have no idea what they’re going to do with their lives. They don’t know, probably don’t have to decide for two years -plus grad school. Whereas you already know what you’re probably going to do. And everyone else knows that you know.

Especially if your career is right there, outside the door. Calling you. Accepting that sure, you’d like to take your time, no problem – but there are these opportunities coming up and they’d really love to see you. We respect that you want to do this thing, and how’s that going, anyway? Oh…you’re bored? Oh, well….

Is anyone strong enough to resist that?

Emma Watson probably left because she was too different from her classmates. The reason this is news, of course, is because we also believed she was different from other young stars.

Now there’s disappointment. ‘Growing up’ in a fictional Scottish castle didn’t make her any more bookish, any more like Hermione. She can think of other, less noble things than her books. She’s probably not going to be an actress AND a Nobel physicist.

At the same time, she probably won’t suddenly be Emma Watson Gone Wild. She seems aware of the weight her contracts and connections and is in no hurry to alienate anyone. She’s got a good head on her shoulders and leaving school isn’t going to scare away her audience.

But she’s just…different. Maybe I didn’t want her to acknowledge her fame. Maybe I wanted to believe it could not matter to her. Maybe I just wanted her to have her four years to go to class in her pyjamas, you know?

Either way, she’s going back to work, aware, conscious, as an adult. The next few years are going to be very interesting. I’m going to say it – I hope it’s worth it.

(Lainey: have received several emails with your thoughts on how Emma sounds in this interview. We can discuss today during the liveblog? Join us at 3pm ET/Noon PT!)

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