Note: Minor plot points of La La Land are discussed below.
One of the saddest scenes in La La Land doesn’t involve the dissolution of the main characters’ relationship. Rather, it centers around the poor attendance of Mia’s one-woman show, So Long Boulder City. Here’s the setting: Emma Stone’s Mia finishes giving the performance of her life in a one-woman show that’s literally about her life, and when the lights go up, there’s hardly anyone in the theater, save for her friends. As a viewer, we’re left to sympathize with Mia’s pain, understanding that no matter how much work someone talented and pure of heart might put into a well-intended and well-executed project in Hollywood, it still might not be a success.
But here’s the thing: If you actually watch La La Land, it’s pretty easy to see why no one went to Mia’s show. It was her horribly written, non-informative, non-BCC’ed email to every talent agent, manager, and reporter in town. You can even see the email in the movie, assuming you pause at exactly the right spot.
We here at The A.V. Club get emails from struggling bands, comedians, web video producers, and actors all the time, and we all agree that if we got this email, we would have instantly deleted it, and not only because we’d be annoyed by being lumped in with the fine people at Starbirther.com. (Don’t even get us started on the fact that she sent this to a “submissions@” email address, because that’s just sad.)
First off, Mia’s email is a dud because she failed to BCC the people she was inviting, thus inviting a heinously annoying “please remove” chain of replies, an event that is truly one of the internet’s most troubling. The replies wouldn’t be her fault, per se, but the wide-open email list would. Plus, she’s making all of those email addresses available to everyone who gets that email, and that’s not cool.
Second, we’d delete the email because of its stupid subject line, “Mia Dolan – Performance of One Woman Show.” Considering Mia works at a coffee shop on the Warner Bros. lot, we’re going to go ahead and assume she’s not a household name in Hollywood, or even a casting agency name. While some recipients of this email might be aware of who she is, most wouldn’t. Here’s hoping she included a headshot and a resume below the play’s flier, because if she didn’t, that’s even sadder.
This email also gives hardly any information about So Long Boulder City, and not just because we can’t really read what the “dramatic piece” is about, save “the porous border between” whatever “them” is. Mia’s description of her one-woman show is the theatrical equivalent of saying an indie rock band is “influenced by Radiohead.” It means basically nothing, and offers zero in the way of credibility. If you haven’t heard of that band—or of Mia Dolan—why would you, a busy agent/manager/reporter/whatever, go spend hours—because you know Mia’s show wasn’t short—of your time watching a play you know fuck all about? You just wouldn’t.
While it’s respectable that So Long Boulder City is “a labor of love” for Mia, and that she’s using the play as a chance to “show you what [she’s] capable of,” the harsh truth is that a lot of really shitty works of art are real labors of love for people, and, again, it’s easier to go catch a play or a movie or a concert once you know what you’re actually getting into. We can’t see what’s below the flier here, but unless Mia’s including a YouTube link to a scene from the play, or held press previews before the bigwig friendly opening night, then we’re skeptical that, no matter what, she would not have set the world on fire with So Long Boulder City. A few agents might have sent interns—and, to be fair, Mia does eventually get a big opportunity based on this show, thanks, we assume, to the mysteries of totally fictional moviemaking—but a packed house was never in the cards. We as viewers should feel sympathetic when the lights go up on a few people and a sporadic smattering of applause, but, really, it’s all Mia should have ever expected.
Next time, maybe she should hire a publicist.