I miss being entertained. Passive entertainment, I mean: escapist movies, mindless television, pulp fiction, shopping therapy. Although I frequently lament how little people actually think, there is something to be said for actively not thinking, if only for an hour or two.
I haven’t been able to fully enjoy a movie since I started worrying about their political implications and to whom the profits flow. Some I will boycott altogether, but I actually sat through every ghastly moment of Apocalpyto hoping against hope that Jaguar Paw would not only escape from his pursuers but leap over the camera and slash out the heart of the director. (When I was a kid, I managed to get through the Indiana Jones movies without worrying too much about the motivations of the cannibals, but every inaccuracy of the Mayas’ portrayal was like a blow-gun dart in my brain.) When not staring at James Bond’s ass, I worried about whether his spy agency was involved in faking the justifications for the Iraqi invasion. The other night, when Rob and I watched one of our Lord of the Rings DVDs, all I could focus on was how they did the special effects.
Television is worse. The reality shows like “Project Runway,” require too much personal investment. It takes a great deal of energy to pick and mercilessly defend a favorite, as well as to pick apart everyone’s performance as compared to what I would have done in their place. But there’s no escape in shows like “Battlestar Galactica” or “Ugly Betty,” either; anything with its own podcast is just asking for too much outlay. And then one must contend with hearing about what its outspoken fans think about every plot twist. Rob introduced me the “Jam Shippers,” which sounds like a harmless labor union but is actually a group of radical sitcom activists waging an obsessive crusade for getting Jim and Pam together on “The Office.” I now can’t get through an episode without worrying about the official position of the Jam Shippers and whether they will resort to suicide bombers if Jim gets together with that brown-haired woman.
I can’t look at websites without getting distracted by headlines and politics. I can’t buy a crappy novel without worrying about whether it comes from an independent bookstore. I can’t buy clothes without obsessing over sweatshops and pesticides.
The sad thing is, most of this is stuff I would (and always do) advocate for. Thinking about stuff. Taking responsibility for your choices. Researching things that interest you. Taking a stand for what you believe in. But on the whole, it’s exhausting, almost crushing, when combined with my other obsessions and compulsions.
I do shoulder on, trying to save both society and my sanity with my every choice, but the truth is, I could sort of use a vacation.