Thursday, November 10, 2016

When movies are no escape

The feeling I have now is most similar to the feeling I had after 9/11.

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.


Wendell Ottley said...

I appreciate this heartfelt post, and sadly, understand it perfectly.

Derek Armstrong said...

Lots of love to you from Down Under, Wendell.

Nick Prigge said...

I like this post. I wish I didn't have to like this post, but...well, you know what I mean.

I was on vacation when the election happened. And that made for a really odd vacation. This particular vacation involved a lot of being out in nature, which was spiritually replenishing, yet also not spiritually replenishing at all. You could get away from what was happening in little bursts, but it kept creeping back in there, no matter how far away or idyllic the scenery.

What a time to be alive.

Derek Armstrong said...

Yeah Nick. It's been weird and tough. The weird parts at least keep things entertaining enough for the tough parts not to be quite as depressing. It looks like you could not manage (or at least did not care to write) a moping post like this one on your own blog. I guess it's a good lesson: Onward and upwards, and at least we'll always have movies to get us through.