I like to let my brain melt after work, and I’ll watch a lot of YouTube, or I’ll play a TV show I’ve seen a hundred times already in the background as I do some other task like dye my hair, but neither of these things are particularly stimulating. If I’m paying enough attention then yes, The Office can still provide an entertaining and thoughtful 22 minutes, but I watch those shows passively now, and most often the videos I watch on YouTube don’t make me think very much, if at all.
And while that’s perfectly fine, I used to watch television–good television–religiously. I still believe that TV has the best story-telling potential, but my favorite shows came to their necessary conclusions or jumped the shark, and I never picked up anything new. Like what happens to most of us with the music we listened to in our late teens, I got stuck in my own golden era of media and just kind of stalled out.
I don’t think I spend less time consuming now, I just don’t consume much of value, and that’s sad, so I’m resolving to seek out good media as part of my bid to become more creative in 2018. There have been many times when I’ve seen a preview or read a review and thought, “Yes, that’s what I’ll watch/read next!” and then don’t follow through, but the other night I saw a preview for I, Tonya, a Tonya Harding (sort of) mockumentary and decided then and there I had to see it.
I, Tonya was easily one of the best films I’ve ever seen. Maybe part of my love for it is having been starved of new and exciting movies recently, but I doubt that is the sole factor (especially since I just saw The Last Jedi and fell head over heels for that).
Stories that make you rethink what a villain is, like Wicked or even the new Star Wars trilogy, have a special place in my heart. I, Tonya is one of these stories, and it’s beautifully complex. The real villains in I, Tonya are her mother, her ex-husband, and, unexpectedly, but refreshingly, you, the viewer. Highly recommend. A quick warning, though: if you are at all triggered by domestic abuse, you may want to steer clear.
I read a negative review of this movie because I like when other people are wrong, apparently, and the critic said that, “ultimately what gets lost is empathy for whom it matters most: Harding.” If you come out of watching this film without feeling total empathy for Harding, You. Are. Not. Human. Or you don’t know how to critically analyze something, which is rough for a professional analyst.
I’m trying to focus this resolution on all media, not just movies, so I did some digging in modern music as well, and I stumbled on both Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus.
Hear me the fuck out, okay?
I grew up in the age of the CD. An artist released a track on the radio and within a month their album, no, their compact disc came out. The CD was a story, regardless of if that was intended to be, and usually had some kind of overarching voice to it. In the age of the digital album, however, things are a-changin.
And that’s fine, but it’s also frustrating. I fell hardcore in love with Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar” and “Wolves” is also pretty good, but as far as I can tell these songs aren’t attached to an album! If you like a song, there is a pretty good chance that the album the song came from will be a hit with you, but here I am with a couple measly singles and a desire to place them into a larger story that doesn’t seem to exist.
Then I found what is basically the exact opposite in Miley Cyrus. So, she had a rough patch, admittedly, but her newest album, Younger Now, and its title track especially are not just divergent of what she was doing, but it’s all stand-out, good pop music. Apparently between the, well, let’s say the “mistake” that was Bangerz and her newest, she released what’s essentially a mixtape, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. It’s touted as psychedelic pop and sprinkled with these really lovely songs that make you feel like you’re floating in space. I guess that’s exactly what psychedelic pop would be, hu? “Karen Don’t Be Sad” is my favorite so far, but I’ve not listened to all of it.
It’s essentially a foil to what Gomez has done in that she released a 23 track concept album for free on the internet. I don’t begrudge Gomez in any way for selling her music, they should all do what they want with their intellectual content, it’s just interesting the different directions each has gone.
This post is probably long enough, but I should also mention I’m reading Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. I know I need to read more in general, and this was a good place to start. The book is short and reads very quickly. I’m really enjoying it so far and it’s very dissimilar to what I would normally read, but I’m going to save a more formal review for when I finish the whole trilogy. A film is being made for release this year, but the trailer feels much different than the book so far. An older me would be like “that sucks!” but a new me is looking at it like “this is great, two pieces of media for one!”
It’s funny I started out talking about TV, and then told you, Dear Reader, about all these non-TV things, but that’s the just the thing: I’m looking for something new and exciting, and movies and music can be consumed and moved on from while TV kind of sucks you into a commitment I might not be ready for again. Too soon, TV, too soon!
2018, the year of good media. I hope.