When Words Are Not Enough, When Words Are All You’ve Got

Yesterday was the first day that I felt like I was able to move without experiencing a significant amount of pain. I mean, I still felt the twinge and turning my head all the way to one side or the other produces an ache and a weird clicky-grindy sound, but other than that, I practically danced across the parking lot at work and was anxious to get moving once I got home.

I walked to get a few errands done, and then Courtney said she’d go with me to get pizza, so then I walked to her house and we walked to Ballard together. I was celebrating my new ability to live without constant pain, but I was also celebrating a small victory over the latest episode of our landlord’s fuckheadery. Yes, my pointed e-mail got the right result (and was therefore cause for half of my celebration), but overall, the situation still pisses me off so I need some more time to stew about it lest I blast the entire Internet off its hinges and scare all of you away forever.

Anyway.

While we ate our pizza, I told Courtney that I hadn’t watched the “Swift Arrows” video she sent me, but that I had listened to the entire album and loved it, especially the single that I was supposed to experience with the video. Courtney laughed, understandably, because it’s a sort of weird way to consume media, and it’s even weirder that I probably haven’t watched a music video all of the way through for years. I just can’t pay attention to them like I used to, and also, if I’m hearing a song for the first time, it’s natural that my own brain tells me how the story should look. And just like how I feel ambivalent towards movies made from books I’ve already read and enjoyed, I don’t feel the need to see videos for songs I’ve already decided that I like.

A couple of weeks ago, I referenced the “did you read…” scene from Portlandia:

…and said that the amount of media we’re all expected to consume feels this savage and exhausting sometimes, and I don’t know how any of us can possibly cram it all in. However, it’s one perfectly acceptable thing to say “I haven’t seen that yet” or “I don’t know what that is” or even to understand your tastes enough to say “it doesn’t seem like something I would enjoy.” It’s quite another to dismiss just about anything as stupid or worthless on the simple basis of you haven’t seen/heard/read/understood it yet.

For example, I have not seen “Frances Ha.” The Internet tells me I should see it. My Netflix recommendations keep trying to shove it down my throat. But I’m not very interested in seeing it. I’m sure it speaks to a lot of people and for reasons that are perfectly valid, but personally, I just don’t feel that it’s necessary for me to watch yet another enigmatic young thing emoting their way around Brooklyn.

And if I didn’t know this about myself, if I let the Internet and Netflix and a handful of people tell me I had to watch “Frances Ha,” I might feel betrayed when I did watch it and was unimpressed. Of course, I do know this about myself, and I think that’s where a media-saturated culture benefits us. I can consume an infinite amount of information, entertainment, and opinion, but I can also use what feels like an impossible obligation to develop specific tastes, and to exercise my preferences, and to find the things I really, truly appreciate and focus on what they mean to me and others like me.

Which is not to say that I’ll never watch the “Swift Arrows” video. I will, even though Courtney tells me it’s super weird and kind of disturbing but that she compulsively replayed it, anyway. It’s not to say that music videos aren’t a terrific way to broaden a song’s message. It’s not to say that I’ve ever gotten into a bloodmatch over what someone did or didn’t bookmark from Slate (or, unfortunately and especially if you hang around on Facebook, Thought Catalog or Buzzfeed).

It’s just that I’m trying to fit a funnel into this vast cloud of everything I’m supposed to know, see, listen to, and read in order to contribute, and sometimes, although it may seem like I’m taking the back-asswards way around, I will eventually get there.

Although that way will almost definitely not include “Frances Ha.”

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About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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