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Chuck's World | There's no accounting for this

 

November 20, 2019



I read an interesting article the other day, although I went through it quickly and then bookmarked it for later.

I can’t be the only one who practices skim-and-save reading. It’s a form of procrastination and so, of course, feels completely natural to me. Someday I’ll learn something. Not today, maybe.

I just like to let things marinate a bit. Sometimes ideas need to hum in the hallways for a few days. There was something important in this article, but my finger wavered over the page, not quite sure where to land.

The article was by Willa Paskin, the television critic for Slate magazine. She was ostensibly reviewing “The Morning Show,” the flagship series from the Apple crew, who are now making television.

And everyone is making television, even as we wonder about the terminology. When everything can be watched at home on TV, is everything on TV actually television?

I’m not sure why this should matter to any of us, although it obviously matters to some professional filmmakers.

A few months ago, Steven Spielberg made the news with some comments about all of this. As you’re probably aware, certain streaming platforms (Netflix and Amazon, primarily) sometimes premiere original movies in actual theaters, sometimes only for a few days, before sliding them over into their streaming library.

Spielberg thought this unfair, or at least muddying up the form, and he made some noise about award consideration being withdrawn and so on. He later clarified his comments, claiming that he truly wanted people to appreciate good storytelling wherever they find it. He just didn’t want the theater experience to go away, and he felt it was threatened.

He’s not alone. Martin Scorsese has made a lot of noise about the Marvel Universe-like movies, sucking the oxygen out of the Cineplex, leaving little room for (I suppose) Scorsese films.

And as much as I admire these filmmakers, I do get the sense of dinosaurs staring at that big rock streaking down from above. Whining about modernity and loss of tradition may sooth the soul, but they don’t seem to be slowing up the asteroid.

OK, boomers.

Change can be alarming, and relative. We’re currently faced with some serious changes that we either will address or suffer the consequences, but it has nothing to do with $20 buckets of popcorn.

When Interstate 95 lies under the new Miami Beach, I suspect the Avengers will be an afterthought.

But that’s not what Ms. Cather was writing about. She wasn’t even writing about “The Morning Show,” not really.

She was writing about taste, and enjoying our personal taste and owning it, I guess we’d say. This has been on my mind for months now, if not much longer. I understand why.

Two things, really – we’re now exposed to the likes and tastes of many people, people we know and people we wander across online. I now know which of my friends from way back when are Deadheads, or Jimmy Buffet fans, or into cheesy horror films. I know the ones who attend ComicCon-like conventions and Elton John concerts.

Secondly, we can enjoy our personal preferences in the privacy of our homes. This has always been true to some extent, but even with social media it’s possible to not share, and get away with it.

If I want to binge watch episodes of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” or “Storage Wars,” I don’t have to tell anyone.

It’s not really about secrets, though. It’s just convenient to indulge my whims without any social pressure to conform.

Not that I wouldn’t head for the theater to watch something cheesy, something I know going in is never going to make a top 10 list. I’ll go for the spectacle, for the socialization, and occasionally to relieve boredom. And I’ll always go see Emma Thompson, end of story.

But home is where my heart mostly is, and my pleasure. Dumb pleasures are what Cather was referring to, and how they’re really not all that dumb. Some of my favorite things are indefensible, in the sense that I have no desire to defend my choices.

For example, I happen to enjoy “The Morning Show.” It’s had mixed reviews, and critics I respect have trashed it, and I can’t seem to figure out why I should care.

One of my most enjoyable movie experiences came from a raunchy Judd Apatow comedy, which I suspect isn’t going to show up on a list anywhere near “Citizen Kane.”

Another favorite film is a wonderful example of mediocrity, a slightly interesting story that falls apart due to a goofy script and marginal acting, and I’ve seen it dozens of times. It makes me happy, and I’ll admit that to anyone.

And last night I listened to a solid hour of ABBA. You may stop reading now.

I like critics. I like getting a head’s up on what to avoid. I like making informed decisions about how to spend my time. I still make my own decisions.

Some of them just might raise an eyebrow among people I respect, and after a lifetime of enjoying quality entertainment, undeniably prestige art, I find tremendous comfort in slumming along the lesser offerings and not caring.

I watch “Citizen Kane” every couple of years; it’s an amazing film. “Superbad” is not, although it makes me laugh and I’d watch it in a heartbeat. I can live with the shame.

And ABBA made some fantastic music.

Fight me.

 

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