As an awkward pre-teen, the thing that most persuaded me to watch Dawson’s Creek was not the overblown marketing which promised lots of over eloquent young teens having lots of sex (seriously, who the fuck managed to get that part so very wrong?) or the fact that Joshua Jackson was a total babe who I imagined one day whisking me off down the Mersey on one of the rowing boats borrowed from the Creek (definitely not a pubescent fantasy of mine, no way), it was James Van Der Beek.
Previous to Dawson’s Creek he had a guest spot in Clarissa Explains It All where he played…actually, I’ve no idea what character he played. All I can remember is that he spurred Clarissa into such a hormonal tizzy that she decided to go full on ‘goth’ to impress him. Who the fuck knows why. That’s just how Clarissa Darling rolled. But I kid you not, I thought he was really something. If he can drive cool-girl Clarissa – queen of computers, garment layering and philosophical tirades about important things like pizza and homework – so insane she’s happy to go all Siouxise Sioux for him, then he must be a stud.
So imagine my disappointment when I sat down for the entire first season of the Creek, week in and week out, to find that James Van Der Beek – the boy who drove Clarissa Darling clinically insane – was playing a depressed, wimpy teenager with a Spielberg obsession and a greasy Brad Pitt in Devil’s Own haircut.
It didn’t take long before I’d created a sub-folder in my mind simply labelled ‘DANGER: DAWSON’ into which I dumped any memory of do-gooder, lame ass Dawson Leery. I used to actually record episodes onto a vhs tape prior to viewing so that I could just fast forward through his weepy moments, monologues and endless inability to be interesting. If Pacey wasn’t there to prop him up and call him an Oompa Loompa, then I gave absolutely zero fucks.
Roll on however many years it’s been since that show first aired (seriously, for the sanity of everyone reading this, let’s just pretend it was like, five) and James Van Der Beek (or, JVDB as I like to call him now. Like he’s the next JCVD) is everywhere.
At first, I just dumped all that shit in the ‘DANGER: DAWSON’ sub folder in my brain and got on with my life. He was like that kid in school that everyone bullied: he was the piss-boy. The snot-kid. The weirdo. The stink. He was the kid that knew exactly why he was getting so much shit and went out of his way to only emphasise those qualities about himself that made him easy prey. So when he started to make a comeback I thought, ‘Ah, piss off, Dawson’. Because in my head I often fail to remember that THESE ARE FICTIONAL CHARACTERS.
First came the crying face meme. Which I could get on board with because HAHA, DAWSON. But then he started popping up all over the shop. I did a Joey Potter and simply ignored the shit out of him.
But now I’m total Team JVDB and I’m sorry that I’m late to the party.
Somehow the man has managed to make a successful career for himself by being a walking, talking parody of himself. He’s the embodiment of the teen star who flails about in straight-to-video and awkward ‘grown up’ roles post breakout show who strives to remain relevant. He is that man, and he’s playing it like a bloody champion.
Let’s start with those Funny or Die videos. A classic set of knowing winks seemingly created off the back of years worth of near-breakdowns from reading internet forums that likely ripped his entire perceived persona to shreds. Because, as it turns out, it isn’t just me who can’t decipher an actor from their starring role. It’s the whole of idiot humanity.
We have ‘Asshole for Hire’ in which JVDB markets himself as the anti-Dawson, assaulting and berating women so that under-achieving boyfriends can seem like Gods to their over-expectant partners who grew up brainwashed by the sensitive, angelic antics of Dawson Leery.
There’s Vandermemes in where he attempts to capitalise on his gigantic internet meme status by introducing a whole new set of gifs with which to express online emosh’ through, and then there’s DILF Jeans: an imaginary jeans company promo in which JVDB gets SEXXXY.
And God help me, he is quite the piece of ass now. Shake. Your. Money. Maker. Mr Leery.
And Christ, have you seen the music video for Blow by Ke$ha? Being somewhat outside of whatever demographics are involved in Ke$ha’s appeal, this video (and the song, hello guilty pleasure. I’ll see you at 3am with a bottle of pinot noir in my hand and a table to dance on) completely passed me by. Why didn’t anybody tell me about this? It’s the music video that I imagine David Lynch would make if he went on a bender for 2 weeks living off nothing but Lambrini. And yes, it stars precious JVDB.
There’s people in suits with horses heads. There’s Ke$ha holding her hand like a gun-dildo (natch). There’s a striptease-dance-off between the unwashed starlet and JVDB. There’s a shootout at the end that involves rainbows. There’s even a scene where JVDB retaliates against Ke$ha ripping off her bra from under her top by ripping out his own bra from under his suit. Why didn’t anyone think to incorporate that into a Dawson’s Creek narrative? I would have re-watched that episode to dust.
But best of all the video introduces a deliriously magnificent bit of dialogue into the internet ether wherein Ke$ha addresses JVDB as ‘James Van Der Douche’ (obviously taken from one of those message boards that JVDB was crying over for years prior to his comeback. I LOVE YOU JVDB) to which (ha) he retaliates ‘I don’t appreciate you Slan-Der-Beeking my name…’. BOOM. At the end he loses the rainbow-gun fight and has his head mounted on Ke$has wall. The lucky bitch.
Whatever crack-pipe universe that video lives in is the one that I’d like to go to when I die. I don’t believe in heaven but I do believe in that.
So let’s just wind things down here by commiserating the sadness that is ‘Don’t Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23’ being cancelled. Sure, it wasn’t perfect. But it was good, solid, camp, alcoholic fun. More than anything it gave JVDB a forum to truly shine in.
It was here that I realised how good the boys done and that, hey, maybe I was wrong about Dawson. Maybe he’s changed. And he has, you guys! I initially only watched the show to steal lusty glances at Kysten Ritter (SWOON) but holy shit is JVDB glorious viewing playing a hedonistic, hot mess version of himself. And what now? I don’t want to see him disappear into re-runs of Law and Order or desperate for attention on Keeping Up With The Kardashians (guest spot: Man that serves Kim a bun-free burger when his career has gone to shit and he’s forced to work at Wendy’s to pay for a suit).
I mean, if Kanye West can get a non-stealthy straight up Curb Your Enthusiasm rip off pilot on HBO (rejected, like, but you know…he’s no Dawson Leery), then so can JVDB.
Come on, World. Give the people (me) what they want.