Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gone With the Wind

Last night I watched Gone With the Wind. Actually, I read comic books and half paid attention and half complained while Carrie watched it. I had never seen it before, mostly because I've never had much desire to. From the story's content to its fans to the era in which it was filmed, it never held much for me to be excited about. to be honest, I think it's way more of a crime that I've never seen Casablanca than my not caring about Gone With the Wind, and my feelings haven't changed since last night.

  Let's ignore the fact that the movie is 11 hours long and absurdly racist*, and what I took away from that movie is that everyone is crazy and horrible or stupid and horrible. I mean just the sort of people I would absolutely not be able to sit in the same room as. Not that I could afford to, but still. I don't know why people don't talk about that. Probably because it's just a movie, and when you think about it, movies rarely feature characters that act like normal people. Hell, why pay for that? Pretty much all the best movies have a characters that would make you crawl out of your skin had you encountered them in real life.

Normal people.

It's a concept I think about a lot, because as a person who considers himself to be somewhat normal, I feel like there aren't many of us. Think of how many times you encounter people on the street or in a restaurant or bar or something and they do something that counts as anything from weird to psychotic. Maybe that number is inflated since you're not going to remember the potentially normal people that you happen to encounter without incident. It's a lot easier to remember the guy who smells like a Grendel pooped in his pants and threatened you with a ladder than the person who quietly smiled back at you on the street.

Fair enough.

But still, there are an inordinate amount of people that just strike me as... I don't know, incapable of social interaction? People that will tell you disturbingly intimate details moments after meeting them, or who seems to have a "drunk/accusatory" switch in their brain or something. You know these people.

But what I'm always left wondering about is how they don't understand that people will find this behavior unsettling at best. Where is this behavior learned?

Last night, I mentioned that the movie should have at least one character who twenty minutes in says "alright, you all are nuts. I'm outta here!". And then for the rest of the night I was thinking about this. Maybe that's where this stuff comes from! Maybe if you obsess over movies like this enough, you start to think that all sorts of behavior is acceptable when it is absolutely not. "If I want my life to be more like the movies, then I should act like they do in movies" is not the worst logic I've ever heard. But it's pretty close.

But if movies could have this effect on people, what is the internet going to do with us? Just make us mean, entitled, and embittered? No thanks. It worries me that we spend less time interacting with one another than ever before, since it will only increase the influence of things like TV and the internet on how we conduct ourselves in public. But it's to the point now where I'm wondering where "normal" people come from, or at least how they're created. I probably spend more time by myself than anyone I know, and even when I'm in public I frequently am wearing headphones**, but somehow I can manage to hold a conversation without snapping off the disclosure switch in my brain and throwing it into a nearby fire. Maybe it's listening to podcasts. Maybe it's because I never had "Teen Mom"*** to watch on TV.

I'm lucky. I have a wife who is my best friend and carries more or less the same social beliefs that I do. Same goes for our roommate and friends (however scattered across the country as they may be). Since moving to California, my efforts to make friends out here have been pretty varied, and there have been more than a few instances where I've considered jumping out a second-story window or pulling a fire alarm to get out of the rest of an evening. I would probably lose my goddamn mind if I was single. Loneliness I can handle, but spending quasi-intimate time with near strangers is a special hell that I couldn't handle. "How do I come from the same universe as these monsters?". One thing is for sure, I would not be afraid to bring stink and/or smoke bombs to smash on the floor and use as a quick exit.

I don't know. God knows I've creeped enough folks out in my day. Maybe my version of normal is just people who suppress all of their weird shit rather than letting it breathe. Maybe you at home reading this has never encountered the guy on public transportation who insists on telling you about his "bitch wife" or the lady at the bar who spends 40 minutes berating anyone that doesn't agree that her dog is the cutest thing they've ever seen****.

So clearly I don't have a point. Except that Gone With the Wind is terrible and racist*****.

I guess the next time you're feeling frustrated with how nobody just seems like a normal person anymore, you should write a lengthy, incoherent piece about it for awhile before realizing that you're complaining because not everyone acts the same. Then, think about it for about 10 minutes, wondering if you should just delete it like the last weird piece you wrote. Then delete it.

That's what I would do if I were you. But I'm me, so I'll ignore that last sentence.

If you're reading this, though, and you know me, it means that I probably know you too, and that at least once a day, I will be working or talking with someone who acts in a way completely alien or disarming to you. and I will be thinking to myself if this is a crazy thing or if they were drunk or raised by a bear or all three, I'll think of you YES, YOU reading this and think about how lucky I am to have the people in my life that I do. You are one of the people that sort of grease the wheels of existence for me, insulate my life from... the collective life. You're scattered across the globe, and some of you I probably haven't spoken to in years. Yet you're still in my mind and am as baffled as I am, which is a welcome sort of validation. Keep it up, and I'll try to do the same!

*Seriously, what was that about? I have enough trouble understanding why people love this movie without that shit. It turned a long, boring movie into a long, offensive AND boring movie. Can we remove this (and Birth of a Nation!) from our national archives, please? Or at least from those absurd AFI lists...
**I have gotten shit consistently since middle school for wearing headphones all the time from friends and teachers alike. Now everyone does it and I'm the one complaining that nobody talks anymore.
***I know that the title of the show should be in italics (episodes go in quotations) but I'm still trying to convince myself that it isn't a real thing.
****both real.
*****Seriously, I might have paid actual attention to 2 hours of the movie, which is barely half of it, so I might've missed some really touching shit where Scarlett whined and slapped more people.


clickie said...

I've never seen the movie, but I have recently re-read the book. I think it's one of those books like Wuthering Heights where the point kinda is that every single character is a horrible human being. I can appreciate them as works of literature or something; it takes a certain kind of creative mind to so fully realize the lives of such horrible people, and it is interesting to see what would happen if you spun out those stories. Obviously, Lolita is a much better novel than either of the other two books, but is a similar story of completely unlikeable characters.

However, I think that there are a lot of people who don't see these stories that way, and I am pretty sure those are the same sorts of people who don't understand why "Every Breath You Take" is a creepy song. I do not understand those people.

Jonathan said...

I would never crawl out of my skin if I met Chewbacca in real life. Love that guy. Thats handsome.

Lynne and I watched Dr. (I will absolutely spell this wrong) Zchivago the other night.

That movie may be in my top 5.

It is equally 11 my humble op...awesome.