Adam, that slim, dark-haired, flannel-wearing guy/ghost, married to Geena Davis’ prairie dress-wearing character Barbara? Somehow, that is Alec Baldwin, a fact I only discovered within the last few years. Exactly how the eldest Baldwin brother’s skull has seemed to widen by at least 50 percent as he’s aged is beyond me, and it’s not even really the point. I’m not here to body-shame him. He’s perfectly fine looking. But that young Alec, the one we see in Beetlejuice? He’s precisely the type of cottagecore hunk Timothée Chalamet and his brood aspire to.
The black and white gingham button-up, the wire-frame glasses, the gentlest five o’clock shadow — all features of Adam’s look in the film that have been covered as trends in Vogue and GQ as recently as this week. He’s groomed but not overly so, he’s stylish enough but prioritizes comfort, and like the rest of us in 2020, his general demeanor reflects the manic anxiety and bored apathy of existential dread.
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It’s not simply what Adam wears or how hot he is wearing it that make this aesthetic — and that of Beetlejuice more broadly — feel so contemporary. Beetlejuice itself pushes a theme of bucolic country life clashing and ultimately blending with vaudevillian goth. Adam and Barbara’s only real desire while alive is to enjoy the comforts of their quaint home, with Adam specifically occupied with his hobby of building a model replica of their New England village. They live cottagecore lives and die cottagecore deaths, drowning in a river after accidentally driving their Volvo station wagon off a covered bridge.
The thematic and aesthetic parallels between Beetlejuice and the current moment can go even deeper, beyond the fact that many of us are currently attempting to embrace a pastoral lifestyle as death dances around us. Surely, there is something relatable about the sense of being trapped in one’s home, unable to continue the life you’d established before while pompous rich idiots destroy it. Betelgeuse himself is only part of the problem.
In some ways, Beetlejuice is about gentrification — wealthy outsiders dominating a space with no consideration for the people who originally lived there, later utilizing those people in a form of carnivalesque theater for fellow voyeuristic outsiders. But on a more basic level, Beetlejuice embodies the straightforward rift between life and death, a dichotomy that has undoubtedly defined 2020. Beetlejuice could reflect 2020 by that measure alone. It just so happens that the small-town Vermont-y style of Alec Baldwin in the film mirrors today, too.