Two weekends ago, I saw three movies! Please note that I do not like exclamation points, but I feel that one is warranted in the foregoing sentence because, prior to said weekend, I have maybe seen a total of three movies in the past three years. (Cheerio, parenthood!) Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. But I like exaggeration, so onward.
I watched one movie at home, so it doesn't really count. It also doesn't count because I stretched out on the couch and fell asleep nine minutes in. I hoped the vampire action in New Moon would keep me alive and kicking. Alas, no. The other two movies were actually in the theater. One was enjoyed with a gaggle of girlfriends and the other, with my main man. And here's the thing, the odd thing: the two movies couldn't have been more different and I really liked them both.
Sex and the City 2. Terribly reviewed. Wildly fun. Was this movie stuffed with cutesy quips and predictable plot points and over-the-top fashion and borderline-offensive sexual and political displays? Absolutely. But. Were there scattered moments of sincerity and nuance and was it all-in-all quite entertaining? Indeed. My girlfriends and I left the theater smiling big, reliving the flick's silly moments, and talking. It was a Friday afternoon and we migrated from the theater to my deck where we sipped wine and continued to talk. About life and love. About sex and the city. In this often too-serious world of ours, this was a delectably frivolous and fabulous way to head into the weekend.
Please Give. The final movie I saw. With Husband. This one was pretty well-reviewed. And considerably depressing. Have you even heard of this movie? I hadn't. But it was playing in our favorite theater and the time was a good one and it got good reviews. It was a thoughtful and nuanced movie. A bit depressing. Incredibly real. The kind of movie I would want to write. Anyway, I liked this movie for its subtlety, for its apt portrait of humanity and mortality. I left this one not smiling, but thinking and asking. Another cinematic success.
And so. What's the point here? Just that I saw a trio of movies in a two day span? No. The point is a bit more meaningful and elusive. The point is that it sometimes seems that there are types of art and entertainment that we are supposed to embrace and enjoy and there are types that are forbidden fare. And, in the event that we do happen to savor the more fluffy choices, we are certainly not advised to admit it. Because how does this look? After all, do serious and intelligent people like movies like SATC2?
Yes. They do.
Why this debate today? Two weeks after the fact? Because. Because as I set out on this writing adventure, I think about these things. I think about the stories I want to write and those I'm expected to write. Because I feel a profound tension within me sometimes between the serious and the silly. And I celebrate this tension, this resident complexity in my creative core, but sometimes I feel as if I am supposed to crowd out the silly and pursue serious.
But I don't want to do this.
Since Life After Yes was published one month ago, several people have read the book and said something to me. Something like: It was a fun book. I could not put it down. It was easy to read, but it also had philosophical heart and true depth and asked real questions. They say this, or some variation of this, and there is a tinge of surprise in their voices. That a book can be both heavy and light, laced with threads silly and serious.
And in response to these bemused readers, I trot out my latest and greatest metaphor. I say:
"I like to think of my book and my blog writing as vitamin gummy bears. They taste good, but they also pack a nutritional punch."
And people seem to like this. They smile and nod. But do they buy it? I'm not so sure. Maybe candy and vitamin are intrinsically incompatible. Maybe artistic light and creative darkness do not belong together. Maybe silly and serious should stay in separate boxes.
I don't know, but I don't think so.
What I do think is that we should allow ourselves to enjoy (and write) the stories we like whether they are all candy or all vitamin or somewhere deliciously in between.
- How often do you see movies? Have you seen any of the movies that I mentioned here?
- Can you watch a movie at home without nodding off?
- Do you feel pressure to like certain kinds of books and films?
- Do you agree that, on some level, entertainment should be an escape and we should permit ourselves to enjoy a range of stories cinematic or scribbled?
- Do you feel pressure in your own writing to stick with more serious themes?