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Elvis Presley: The Original MLD

Smarty Pants Hope make a compelling case for her not-so-guilty pleasure.

Elvis Presley: The Original MLD

Please welcome Hope Bordeaux to the Smarty Pants stage! As a swimfan of Breakfast at Tiffany's, Hope possesses an unabashed love of Audrey Hepburn, bathtub couches, and the phrase 'quel rat,' despite her misgivings about Paul Varjack. Her favorite adult beverages are champagne and sparkling wines.

I love Elvis. I’ve loved Elvis since I was young enough to buy YA lit without getting the side-eye, y’all. I don’t even remember exactly how I old was, actually. Bored with
my grandmother’s ancient, pre-remote-technology-TV, I gave up cranking between fuzzy channels and stumbled across her collection of Elvis LPs. An obsession was
born. By the time I turned 13, I’d made the pilgrimage to Graceland, watched every cheesy Elvis flick I could my hands on, and had a collection of Elvis music to rival a
record store.

Part of this may be my southern upbringing, but I like to think that any YA-fan would benefit from a little Memphis Mafia in their life. Why?

At Forever Young Adult, much discussion revolves around the mysterious loner dude, subject of countless YA novels, television, and film. The MLD archetype may exist in various from sparkly to snarky, but he owes his YA ubiquity to the King. Just watch this 1960 interview where Elvis fleetingly mentions future wife Priscilla as “no big
romance”—a moment worthy of the most angsty YA lit.

A checklist of MLD traits originally owned by E.P.:
- Leather jacket
- Swagger
- Cheekbones
- Good hair
- Use of Guitar as Seduction Tool
- Motorcycle
- Slight Case of Sexism And/Or Over-Protectiveness of the Ladies
- General Poutiness
- Tough Exterior but
- Secretly Vulnerable

You see what I mean? The man was awesome. His movies are often lambasted for their clichéd plots and wooden acting, but he is actually quite good at channeling
in his inner selfish jerk in a variety of bizarre formula-movie romances. Think Mr. Darcy + working-class snarl + Hawaii. A highlight reel of his awesome YA movie contributions should include these lesser-known Elvis gems:

King Creole (1958)
Rumor has it this was originally a James Dean vehicle. Elvis is the son of a disgraced pharmacist from NOLA who gets dragged into the seedy underbelly of gangs and
nightclubs, before being redeemed by the love of a Mary Sue-ish type named Nellie. Nellie! One priceless scene has Elvis crooning “Lover Doll” in a drugstore while his buddies shoplift. Look for Carolyn Jones, aka TV’s Mrs. Morticia Addams, as a boozy temptress, Walter Matthau, and Elvis’ smoldering rendition of “Trouble.”

Kissin’ Cousins (1964)
Elvis’ redneck comedy. He has a dual role as both blonde and brunette cousins from up in the mountains. Must be seen to be believed.

Harum Scarum (1965)
The aptly named film has Elvis as kidnapped & threatened movie star Johnny Tyrone in a mythical Middle Eastern country. A country that is apparently still
trapped in the 10th century, except it obviously has movie theaters and hot-roller technology. The various female actresses—a James Bond worthy mix of good girls and hired assassins—wear rhinestone-bejeweled harem pants, big hair worthy of Dolly Parton, and multiple pairs of fake eyelashes. It’s a bizarre amalgamation
of I Dream of Jeanie and the Middle Eastern fantasy sequence Marilyn Monroe has in How to Marry a Millionaire. I have this weird feeling that the Disney artists
responsible for Aladdin’s Princess Jasmine used this movie as a source. Lesson? American movies: Not Very Good at Representing Arabs Since Your Grandma Was A
Teen!

Change of Habit (1969)
In Elvis’ last movie, he plays an inner-city doctor smitten with secret nun Mary Tyler Moore. The movie has Vietnam-era “Serious Social Problems” embedded in
its hammy dialogue and plot, but the real star is a brusquely exasperated, heavily sideburned Elvis. Bitter never looked so appealing. Utterly weird & unforgettable.

I’d suggest watching these with your own pair of Elvis shades, Blue Hawaii-themed cocktails and some grilled cheese. Karate-ready silk pajamas and shag carpet optional.

Further Reading, FYA-ers: Kim Adelman’s The Girls’ Guide to Elvis is the gossipy, juicy source you always dreamed of.