Thursday, November 10, 2016
When movies are no escape
Not in terms of the tragedy of the event, exactly. I mean, you could argue it both ways, that an incident in which thousands of people died is both more and less tragic than the election of Donald Trump. Less tragic because the election of any president does not directly lead to people's deaths (except when it does, and with Trump's finger on the button, it might), but more tragic because more people may be adversely affected in the long run. And because there's no common enemy to rally against, like there was with Osama bin Laden. The common enemy is ourselves.
But what I'm really referring to is that there's no escape from the sorrow, as there wasn't when the planes hit back in September of 2001.
Much was made back then about how soon was too soon to enjoy entertainment again -- specifically comedy, but more generally, any kind of entertainment. It was a fatal disconnect to imagine seeking out something that gave you pleasure, even as a distraction. Being able to extract pleasure from anything was anathema to how we felt. Sitting and staring at walls felt more appropriate.
And that's how I'm feeling right now.
I've watched parts of three movies since the election was called for Trump yesterday -- one in its entirety, one finishing off a viewing that had begun the night before, and a third in an (unsuccessful) attempt to combat insomnia during a sleepless night. Predictably, none has given me any pleasure, and it's not only because Mascots is an unfunny attempt by Christopher Guest to return to his old mockumentary stomping grounds, Borderline is a movie about borderline personality disorder that ends on a fatalistic note, and I Saw the Light (not yet finished) is a standard biopic about a musician I don't know much about (Hank Williams). It's because right now, it is impossible for me to derive pleasure from the source that can usually provide it for me, against all odds and under most circumstances, even when I'm at my lowest.
I'm not sure how long this will last, but my viewing schedule is nothing if not breakneck, and tonight, following a night when I slept for about 90 minutes, I'm supposed to be seeing Arrival, which under other circumstances might be a candidate for one of my favorite movies of the year. Now, I'll be lucky not to sleep through it.
I don't want to spoil my Arrival viewing, but life goes on. I've got to review it for the site almost immediately after the screening, then talk about it on a podcast three delays later. In short, I can't delay it to mourn.
But mourning I am, and mourning I shall be, and mourning will one day end, but I have no idea when.
And for now, movies are no escape from this grief.