Elizabeth Wood may be a young filmmaker, still soaking up directorial lessons and figuring it all out, but she knew exactly what she was doing when she decided to call her first full-length feature, a semi-biographical film set in Ridgewood, White Girl. The label is alluring, gnawing, and sorta yucky all at once. Hilton Als wrote an entire collection of essays, White Girls, devoted to decoding the concept, which he determines is somewhere between an actual state of being and a mirage, both an all-powerful fantasy and the ideal object to be controlled : “Once I lived in a perpetual state of disbelief: How could one be a white girl and hate it? Wasn’t she— whoever she was— everything the world saw and wanted?”

It’s a pejorative, a term commonly attached to catcalls that’s less poetic than, say, “snowflake.” It’s “white girl wasted.” It’s a spoiled, naive little girl. It’s complaining too much. It’s traveling abroad and refusing to eat a stew made with chicken broth. It’s infantilizing, condescending, and rarely a compliment. It’s also a nickname for cocaine.

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