and I can scarcely get through a day without revisiting films that confirm this notion. There was a point in time when I attempted to make a list of all the films I had ever seen. It was a list of honor; a tribute to my favorite past time; a text document that validated my suspicion that I understood movies and their intentions better than most. Unfortunately for me, intention, my girlfriend has reiterated, is different than impact. I could look at my list and find commonalities between any of them, but unobserved was my increasing depression in attempting to conform my life into a formula itself.1
I won’t get into whether or not media influences thinking. It does; that’s that. That’s how propaganda works – not through a solitary image that lies, but through a barrage of mediums all saying comparable things at the same time. It accumulates in the brain, normalizes itself, and shapes the way we perceive the world. I spent years absorbing that I wasn’t a real man unless I was more muscular, that violent retribution is awesome, that women are subordinate to men, and a slew of other problematic ways of thinking. It’s not that working out is bad, that justice is wrong, or that women can’t cook dinner for men, it’s that these are very gendered and amoral impositions that have been skull-fucked into the fabric of my being since I was a child.
In watching my life’s trips to the movie theater in reverse, none of these stories play out the way I remember them anymore – the scripts don’t make any logical sense, everybody moves unnaturally, and the scores don’t even sound that good, to be honest. Once I get to the start of these tales (of heroism, of love, of vengeance, of camaraderie, of horror, of romance, of whatever), it becomes evident that most of them2 were not so different from each other: they were formulaic & predictable, unhealthy & not conducive to any true growth. I have a desire to un-see them, to un-do layers upon layers of internalized beliefs, to whisper into my brain’s limbic system, “Do not give me any neurological satisfaction for any of this bullshit.”
It’s disturbing, that I have 30 years of input and am only just beginning to output any defiance of my normalized thinking. It was so visible all along – the common denominating oppressions of patriarchy, woman-hating, intoxication, white privilege, cultural appropriation, normalizing the commodification of sex, the steady pornification of childhood, the importance of being a “real” man, a thousand other horrible things – and I got used to it. And here we are after 30 years of input: output in the form of three blog entries. It’s going to take a lot of time and conscientious effort to feel I’ve successfully reduced the toxicity steeped into the fabric of my mind.3
I’m being slightly facetious when I state that I want to un-see everything; 4 I can’t deny that this newborn/retroactive anger compels a fervent passion to live a lot more intentionally. But I would love to have been a lot more selective with my time, and perhaps watched a film (several hundred times) which revolves around the importance of thinking critically about the media we consume.5 All I can do for now is wrap these filmstrips up, put them back in the cans, and ship them back to the studios from whence they came.6 I can choose to disengage.
- Of course formulas exist in all medias and are not exclusive to film; today I’m only interesting in getting into movies as they have always been my favorite past time. ↩
- Not all of them! Babe is a fantastic film. ↩
- Just a few days ago my girlfriend told me she got a good parking space, to which I replied, “You got the pimp spot!” before chastising myself for positively associating pimps with goodness. ↩
- I’m not actually into Eternal Sunshine-ing my life away. ↩
- Is there any film about that? I’d love to see that. ↩
- I worked at a movie theater so I am allowed to talk like this. ↩