Saturday, February 25, 2017

When the magic is gone: The I've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' Blog Hop

Thanks to Lanea Stagg for starting us off yesterday!

As for me, I'm a sentimental fool. Part of why Marie Kondo’s “spark joy” mantra was so life-changing is that my inclination is to keep things around me because of what they used to mean to me, never mind what they do for me in the here and now. So to be given permission to let something go without guilt is the most liberating thing I can think of.

Admittedly, this orientation brings me a little less joy when it comes to entertainment. Oh, how I love to grab a hot chocolate (LOL, hot chocolate when February brings a 68 degree day…) and let myself fall into an old favorite for a few hours. Why can’t everything just stay good?

A few months ago, I decided that I needed to watch Lawrence of Arabia. Having interviewed the author of a fabulous book about Lawrence a few years ago, I knew that the movie actually got a lot right, and there’s something to be said for accuracy in historical fiction. Yeah...and that’s why I could no longer abide Alec Guinness as Prince Faisal, Anthony Quinn as Auda, and Jose Ferrer as the Turkish Bey who assaulted Lawrence. All three are amazing actors, but after watching this film a number of times, I finally couldn’t get past them in what I’ll call Desert Tan Face. The fact that they’re in the same movie as the magnificent Omar Sharif only made it more difficult; even in the 1960s, there were known and talented actors from that part of the world. And considering what the story of T.E. Lawrence is really about—a sideshow to a sideshow can, in fact, have epic consequences, especially when mixed with a little noblesse oblige—it feels extra special wrong to have those actors playing those parts.

No

No

That's not insulting at all...

Well, there’s always the 1950s, and specifically 1950, which saw Born Yesterday, Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve (among many others). I was feeling like I needed a sassy, classy woman to guide me through my day, so obviously no one but Bette Davis could fit the bill. And since All About Eve was crowned winner in the 1951 Oscar race and I’d loved it before, I couldn’t go wrong.

Except of course I could. Maybe I’ve seen too many modern movies or just too much television, but Bette Davis, as incredible as she is, was over the top and not always in a good way. Her insecurities about being an aging woman are, sadly, as apropos today as they were sixty years ago, but Margo Channing’s diva act grated on my nerves. Not, however, enough to root for Eve Harrington, who was a masterful manipulator only because the weaknesses she had to exploit were so close to the surface of her victims, not because she was particularly brilliant. I can’t decide whether it’s Anne Baxter’s acting or the writing that made Eve’s scene with Addison DeWitt so unbelievable the second time around, but I cringed watching it.

On the plus side, Marilyn Monroe didn't make me wince

As I rued the expense of the two films I’d rented, I realized that this wasn’t the only time I’ve walked away from something I loved. When I was a high school sophomore, I thought
The Scarlet Letter was the most thought-provoking book I’d ever read. The characters! The plot! The obsession with good, evil, and repentance! The ill-fated love between Hester and Roger! (And did I mention that Nathaniel Hawthorne was hot?) Be still my fifteen year old heart. So when I was assigned the book the next year at a different school, I was ecstatic...and then horribly disappointed. For whatever reason, the person who taught that book couldn’t stand the structure of the way it was written and seemed to feel that Hawthorne was obsessed with everything dark. Perhaps he was, but it was painful to sit through lessons taught by someone who couldn’t see anything redeeming about it. Since then, I haven’t been able to pick up the book again, and that’s probably when I began my policy to never re-read a book.

Sadly, the list of things I “can’t even” continues to grow. The soundtrack of Camelot? There’s, like, two songs I still like, and am I supposed to listen to them in an infinite loop? West Side Story? My twentieth time through, and I start wondering why the story couldn't have been Riff and Bernardo teaming up against those d-bags, Schrank and Krupke.

This is the couple I really mourn

And *deep breath* the last few times I've watched Star Trek: The Original Series, I've been genuinely upset over the number of stories they needed to shoehorn into existing costumes and sets, because a lot of times they didn't work that well. And then I watch some of my favorite episodes from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and I think Avery Brooks and Terry Farrell could have used a little more direction in their more dramatic scenes. There, I said it.

This was just stupid
Sisko was more dramatic than Kirk sometimes...

What we do is part of our identity, but so is what we love. It’s disconcerting—depressing, even—to not only fall out of love, but to change the standards by which we fall in love. (Maybe ST doesn’t do it for me anymore because I don’t think repressed, snarky guys like Spock are as hot as I used to.) Bear with me as I recalibrate.

Have you dropped anything you used to love? Want to defend West Side Story? Either way, let me hear from you in the comments below, and don't forget to catch Keri tomorrow (full schedule can be found here).