Awash in Intended Failure...

I have started any number of themed essay series on the Pylon (The Shark Film Office; I Tolerate Short Shorts, etc.), but I am apparently terrible with maintaining them for any length of time. An eager and perhaps overly excited opening post or two, and then I zoom off to the next wicked brainstorm. Looking through the log of posts on my Blogger Dashboard, I see innumerable drafts for entries in what seems a score of these series which I never completed. As a result, like a dictator discovering a pit of bodies he forgot to have his minions cover over, I have decided to spend a little time in cleaning up the bloody mess. Or at least catching up on completing a few, if not all, of these drafts. Well, a dictator would just have those same minions clean up the mess. But I don't have minions. Yet.

There are going to be a handful of entries in my “Yeah, I Sat Through It Again…” series coming up in the next couple of weeks, and before I fill up the Pylon with them, I wanted to respond to a question a friend of mine asked me recently. After reading an ancient post in the series I had written about Lee Majors’ hilariously stumble-footed The Norseman, he inquired, “If it’s that bad, why would you watch a film like that again?”

Yes, “Why?” indeed… I thought The Norseman, which I actually saw in a theatre, was crap even back in my Lee Majors/Six Million Dollar Man-worshipping youth. So, why torture myself anew? The answer is exceedingly simple and obvious. I watched that film last when I was but a teenager – sadly, nearly thirty years ago -- and the Cinema 4 Pylon is a journal about myself now. The reviews and essays are meant to reflect how I see the world, both real and cinematic, today. (And before you ask the next obvious question, which is "How full of yourself are you?," let me state that this site has always been meant as a working notebook. My needs are met first. Your involvement in, enjoyment of, ennui at or fury at my writings are, combined, secondary to my goals, which sometimes include crashing through or outright renovation of my psyche.)

However, part of the processes of self-reflection and introspection involve peeking into one’s past or youth, and understanding how one’s point of view either changes or doesn’t with the onset of supposed maturity. As I have noted before, up until I was about 16 or so, I loved every goddamn movie I saw – it didn’t matter what quality it was as long as I was watching it. That age was the point where the video revolution truly took hold in my personal world, and suddenly I had a wealth of material to explore. The side effect was that I began to develop some crude form of critical sense. Up to that point, I mainly knew about movies like Citizen Kane and Casablanca through books and scripts at the library – forget being given the chance to actually see them. I was a Bogart fan solely through a couple of books on film noir, not from ever watching The Maltese Falcon. With video, I was free to explore, free to delve into any genre I wished. Books stopped being my main source of entertainment, and suddenly I could expand my movie mind as far as the ever-growing crop of new releases would allow me.

I still watched crappy films like The Norseman. In fact, since 90% of what comes out in any form of entertainment is garbage, domestic or foreign, I was seeing more crappy films than ever. But, by churning through more and more garbage, mixed with those slight portions of excellence, I was more able to ascertain their worth than I was before I actively set out on my own cinematic path. At least, I was able to start developing my own critical process. Most of my friends probably would not agree with me on that, but the whole point of developing a critical process of one's own is that it is distinctly yours.

No one sees the world like you do, even if we all look at the same things at the same time. If ten people see the same accident, chances are that if they were taken into separate rooms and interrogated, each one will give a different version of the events that unfolded. Different people will point out different details; some will likely even think a variety of different parties were at fault. These same differences lie in our reactions to film. Those same ten people can see the same film and they will all break slightly or wildly in their answer to a simple question: "Did you like the film?"

Even the older teenaged mind, and especially the residual memories from that youthful time, are not something on which one should rely. Time wounds all heels, as it were. Memories fade even as they may grow rosier. One’s ability to judge can change desperately from an earlier time, hopefully more on the good side than the bad. And my teenaged self can have seen the same films as my fortyish self, but our answers are going to be different. We might even both say we liked the same film, but the viewpoint of the older is going to have more on which he can reflect or at least issue some form of educated response, while the teenager will tend to concentrate more on the immediate and the superficial -- the Wow and Pow Factor. (We both, however, really enjoy nudity and monsters... so some things will never change.)

If the Pylon is supposed to reflect my mindset now, then I cannot simply accept my feelings towards films I saw in my youth as my overall truth for eternity. I have to watch those films again and judge them through today's scope. I have a very dear friend who mocked me once because I had changed my opinion on a film that I had stated sincere affection for just a few years earlier. I had no problem with the mocking -- it's what my friends do with each other, myself included. What I had a problem with was the notion that I was not allowed to change my opinion once I had stated it. The notion was that I was unable to evolve my sense of criticism or my sense of art in general. This notion is to me almost as bad as censorship, and I believe this notion can extend its slimy fingers outward to explain just how societies succumb to intellectual inertia so easily; how we accept ancient, unverifiable myth as gospel truth, and attempt to stymie reason and equality through fear and injustice.

If you are wondering if I have gotten off the track somewhat, perhaps I have. But if I rail against even my dearest and closest over an innocent remark over a stupid film, then you might have some slight idea of the battle I have with myself every day. A mind that is simultaneously locked in the superficiality of the teen, the innocence of childhood, the failure of adulthood, and a need to know ever more about everything, while each distinct rupture of that psyche engage in constant battle with an even more cynical, gnashing creature that grips ever tighter about my skull. It screams at all of them in different voices, but each one equally arrogant and haughty, and all saying the same thing relentlessly: "Why bother? What's the point?"

And that is why I am watching all of those crappy films over again. And writing about them. At least, until I have minions.


Andrea said…
"...this site has always been meant as a working notebook. My needs are met first."

You've got balls. So much of what I want to write is from lessons learned, things observed, in social interactions. I don't want to hurt anyone by using the blog format to ruminate.

I need a nice metaphor - like cinema! - to use as a springboard!

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