Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving thanks to the movies

A couple days ago, I had a day when I didn't think about Donald Trump once.

It seems impossible to imagine. The wounds are still too fresh, the news still too prevalent, both in the media and on my Facebook news feed.

But as I was getting in to bed that night, I nonetheless said to my wife, "You know, I don't think I thought about Donald Trump once today." Hence ruining the unblemished Trump-free day I was having, but that's beside the point.

There's life after Trump, or there could be. There is, or there can be, or there will be more days when we don't even give the man a single passing thought.

And I don't know why I'm choosing to credit movies with that, except that it's a movie blog and I can't rightly write a Thanksgiving post on a movie blog unless it in some way incorporates movies.

So here's my way to incorporate it: Movies are my normal, and they have allowed me to keep a sense of normalcy during a two-plus-week period that has been anything but.

I'm thankful that whatever happens during a day full of head-shaking cabinet appointments, childish Twitter rants, revelations about ways the election might have been stolen by foreign interests, and reports of hate crimes against minority groups, at least by night, I still have the movies to whisk me away to another world.

"But Vance," you say, "just two weeks ago you said that movies were no escape. I'll save you the trouble and link to the post right here. How am I inserting a hyperlink into a question I am asking you verbally? Don't worry about it. You're missing the point."

Yes, I did say that. And yes, as hard as it was to believe that I would ever have a moment free from thinking about the orange menace we elected president (well, not "we" -- a bunch of crazy people that I hope does not include you), that hypothetical scenario has indeed transpired. Especially helpful in that regard was a movie like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, cinematic escapism in its purest form. And indeed, on Sunday, escape myself away into it I did.

That wasn't the day I didn't think about Trump. I think it was Tuesday.

Most people of my political persuasion won't consider there to be much to be thankful about this Thanksgiving. A perfectly timed news story about a Jill Stein-prompted recount might give us a little hope, but in reality, we'll still know that nothing is likely to change the fact that Donald Trump is our next president. Blog posts giving thanks will be in shorter supply this year than usual, or at least, will carry a different tone to them, one that willfully tries to scrub away the horrors of the entire election season.

For me, though, I do see genuine reasons to be thankful -- good friends, loving family, health, the inspiration of good people intending to fight evil for a better world -- as well as more frivolous reasons, like the fact that I have movies.

Movies serve many functions for me, but one of their most positive is that they create a condition of ongoing optimism. As human beings, we thrive on what we have to look forward to next. If you're a political junkie, one that leans liberally, you may feel like you have nothing to look forward to. Or maybe you look forward to the challenge of ousting our new Republican overlords from office. But either way, your outlook, and what you have to look forward to, is conditional.

Movies, on the other hand, give us an unconditional sort of ongoing optimism. Even if you see a string of movies in a row you don't like, that doesn't tarnish that optimism. Even if you are dissatisfied with the trend of sequels and reboots, that doesn't tarnish that optimism. Each movies is a distinct case unto itself, and if you love movies, you know that there are hundreds and thousands of movies out there that you haven't yet seen and that you will love. The task is just to find the next one, and it's a task that you're forever on the verge of potentially accomplishing.

So thank you, movies, for giving me a sense of normalcy that involves a constant and ever-replenishing state of hope. I can apply that to my outlook on the rest of the world, even when it feels at its darkest.

And why did I include a picture of Barack Obama pardoning a turkey with this post?

Because that is my president, and I like to look at him, and I intend to cherish him as much I can while he still holds the title.

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