This blog post was inspired by a pile of unwanted DVDs in my living room.
I’m just letting you know. In case you want to spend your valuable time elsewhere.
Okay. So. We’re good?
Fine. It’s your time.
Traditionally, I open my blog posts by commenting upon how long it’s been since I’ve written a blog post, wistfully recalling the days of yore when I actually wrote blog posts on a regular basis, or casting aspersions upon myself for my inability to stick with anything in my life that I actually have the energy to start.
Well, I’m not going to do that this time.
[Aside for the ironically challenged amongst you. I just did what I said I wasn’t going to do. And I did it before I said I wasn’t going to do it. Isn’t that clever?]
So, anyway, as I was saying, this blog post was inspired by a pile of unwanted DVDs in my living room. And I’m repeating that so you’ll still have a chance to bail, in case you didn’t really get it the first time. Because sometimes we don’t really get things the first time we read them. I can read an entire page of something and have to go back over it because I wasn’t really paying attention.
So, this particular pile of DVDs is comprised of movies that I’m not likely to watch again. I’ve watched all of them, of course. Why would I buy a DVD and not watch it? That would be silly. Unless it was a gift, of course. Then I’d leave it in its shrink-wrap and put wrapping paper around it. But even then, it would have to be a movie I’d actually seen. Because giving someone a gift of a movie about which I knew nothing would be even sillier than buying a DVD and never watching it.
In most countries, that is.
But I digress. If, in fact there was anything from which to digress in the first place.
There are two reasons that a DVD movie might end up in such a pile as I’m describing (in painstaking detail) here:
- I’d thought it was going to be a good movie (the preview looked good, or someone gave it a high recommendation), but my high hopes were dashed upon the rocks of reality.
I thought it was good when I first watched it, but upon subsequent viewings, it simply didn’t hold up.
But that begs a whole other question: Why did I just use the plural “subsequent viewings”?
You might have to think about that one for a while.
That second point (the one with the plural) really hits home for me. It’s like that whole Mary Tyler Moore Show thing. You know what I’m talking about, right?
What? You don’t? Really?
Sigh. Okay. I’ll explain it to you. But you know the drill. Painstaking. Detail.
Back in the ’70s, when I was much less verbose than I am today, The Mary Tyler Moore Show was probably my favorite thing on TV. It was a good show. Hell, it was a great show. It was hilarious. And it was on for seven years.
We’re talking here about one of the most popular TV shows ever. Groundbreaking television. A strong female central character and well-defined supporting characters. It’s on TIME Magazine’s list of “17 Shows That Changed Television”.
You get the idea.
Fast-forward to the twenty-first century. Sometime in the last couple of years, I stumbled upon an episode of MTM, probably on TVtropolis or some similar channel. I was delighted.
Until I started to watch it.
To my horror, I couldn’t stay with it. I had to change the channel within about five minutes. The humor was so lame that I could barely stomach it. It was a sad, soul-crushing moment that has stayed with me to this day.
It actually made me angry. I was incensed. How could something so good turn so bad? How could something recorded on film and preserved through the decades have changed so significantly? Did someone forget to put it in the fridge? Was there a “best before” date stamped on it somewhere? Was there a crack in the lid?
No. Alas, no. None of those things.
A film, a television episode, a book… they simply cannot change once they are produced and physically sitting in your hand, on a shelf, in a VCR or DVD player. They are static, until you play them, or read them. Then they come to life. But once you’re done, they go back to being the motionless objects they were when you started. Oh, they might get a bit dusty over time, a bit scratched here and there, but the content is immutable.
It is we who change.
I was a teenager when The Mary Tyler Moore Show was first on the air. I was ten when it started and sixteen when it ended. What was funny to me then is significantly different from what is funny to me now.
People change. Humor changes. The world changes. That’s just the way it goes. It’s sad but true. Few things can stand the test of time. There are exceptions, of course, like the music of the Beatles and the original Star Trek series (even the non-souped-up, non-remastered episodes are still eminently watchable, except for “The Galileo Seven” and “Spock’s Brain”), but by and large, the passage of time and the addition of life experiences alter us to such an extent that we simply can’t see our old favorites the same way we did when we first encountered them.
All of this is probably painfully obvious to anyone reading this, but the sight of that sad little pile of DVDs on the shelf in the living room filled me with the urge to just pour out this lament.
Maybe I should turn it into a country song.
Yeah, let’s go with not.