A stab at Immortality?

Sometimes I think I watch too many films. I am sure I watch too many films, too many tv series. I sometimes have the temptation to not watch any new films for six months, clear the decks so to speak, let the dust settle, get some distance from it all. Of course, its impossible. There’s too many films I’m looking forward to. But I find I watch so many films these days that many of them tend to blur into a background noise of memories of scenes, settings, faces, an accretion of many different movies.

Why do some of us love films so much, is that even healthy? I read somewhere a comment that film fans were people escaping from reality, that only someone dissatisfied with their own life would spend so much time vicariously living through films. That such people should stop watching so many films and spend more time attending to their own, real lives. That life passes us by as we sit in darkened cinemas and living rooms watching and re-watching too many films.

A friend of mine watches John Carpenter’s The Thing once or twice a month. That can’t really be healthy. He’s now taken to something similar with the recent prequel movie. Must be something he likes about ice, snow and monsters. But it’s surely verging on the obsessive. How many hours of his life has he spent re-watching the same scenes over and over, what’s the point of that? Is it a way for his brain to switch off, lull itself into a dull semi-aware state as he sits there- is there even a medical condition for that?

Are we escaping reality when we watch so many movies, or watch the same movies too many times? Is that what we ‘get’ out of them? Is it just a more immediate, more passive alternative to simply reading a lot of books, and pretty harmless? Is it the sensory overload of vision and sound, the orchestrated spectacle, the drama, the excitement, compared to our humdrum daily lives, our powerlessness in the face of depressing news, the corruption in banking, tax-dodging elite, the lies of politicians?

We can’t mend the world, so we escape it? Are films simply our subconscious escape from reality? If so, that surely cannot be healthy. Or maybe it is. Go with the flow, bend with the wind, escape into a movie rather than rage hopelessly at the mad world we live in. Perhaps the ‘Powers That Be’ actively encourage this. They encourage the whole Celebrity culture and entertainment industry domination of our lives simply because it makes us more passive, easier to manage and control. The Romans gave the masses the arena and Blood and Circuses. Our leaders and elite give us Television and cinema, hundreds of channels of mindless gameshows and soaps and reruns of old favourites to appeal to our nostalgia, and multiplexes and DVDs and blu-rays.  Its a wonder we don’t go mad or numb from the overload of so much data; never in the history of humanity have people been assaulted by such a constant stream of sensory data, whether it be films, television, Internet, mobile phones.

Which raises a related point about things like this blog. Why write about the films, what’s the point of all these blogs and forums? Who on Earth out there is even remotely interested in what I think of films? What makes me even remotely qualified to judge, to criticise? I have never made a film, never will; so how can I moan about James Cameron’s Avatar or pick faults with some of Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises? By extension, not just me, my question includes everyone like me who writes blogs and forum posts. Our ideas are set adrift and are lost in the constant Internet fugue, most of it utterly redundant, a waste of time and effort. And ultimately, Time is the most precious commodity any of us have.

The Internet is abuzz with rumour and opinions, of rants and applause. And much of it is utterly worthless. Yesterday I was browsing youtube and came across a video tour of some teenagers bedroom. I was utterly perplexed by it. Why would people want to watch a tour of some teenagers bedroom, complete with audio commentary of the posters on the wall, the clothes in the wardrobe, the xbox and pc on a desk, the ipods and cameras on the shelves? Why would anybody get a camcorder and record that stuff, post it on the Internet, think anyone would be interested? I don’t understand. Its like the world has gone mad. There’s videos of guys showing off their latest DVD and Blu-ray purchases. I mean no disrespect to people doing that stuff, of having their own channels for placing videos unboxing their latest purchase or whatever rocks their boat, but really, what’s the point? Its all so inane. Or maybe its just the loneliness of modern life. Assailed by so much media and adrift in communities of strangers, maybe its a reaction to it, to raise Our Voice somehow above all the general noise.

Maybe its as old as writing our name on a tree or stone. I’m here, or I was here, before we all join the other forgotten ghosts of history. A stab at immortality.



2 thoughts on “A stab at Immortality?

  1. I agree with you — it is my stab at immortality. A way of preserving memories and ideas and thoughts — probably the same ones that everyone has had, but I want to scream to this world “I AM HERE TOO! LOOK AT ME!” You did a very nice job of writing this post! Thanks.

  2. “I find I watch so many films these days that many of them tend to blur into a background noise of memories of scenes, settings, faces, an accretion of many different movies.”

    Ain’t that the truth! Trying to pack in 100 a year really seems to exacerbate this problem, especially as I rarely find time to re-watch old (or new) favourites to break things up and create clearer dividing lines. I think it’s one of the reasons I have such an insane review backlog at the minute — if it’s not written immediately, it very quickly becomes hard to remember a film in much detail; and I’m a dreadful procrastinator!

    I also find it makes a mockery of one’s sense of time. I’ve been tweeting old reviews of films when they’re on TV (an act which surely relates to your discussion of why we blog!), and today found several I was shocked to discover I’d watched over two years ago — if you’d asked me, my guess would’ve been at least a year less. Frequently I think of re-watching something I saw fairly recently, only to discover it was four years ago. No one has enough time to be thinking of four years as “fairly recently”.

    Which, unsurprisingly, means I can’t understand people who regularly watch the same film multiple times per year, never mind per month. There’s so much else! Too much. Even if something’s supposedly rubbish, you could discover you’re one of its few fans; something that was reviewed as “pretty good” might turn out to be your favourite film…

    And that said, I wish I found time for my favourites. I’ve recently been considering jacking in new film viewing and turning to the old, but then I glance at my hundreds-long list of unseen films I fancy and it immediately becomes problematic again!

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