My dream as a child always centred around the arts, whether it be writing or acting or music and paint. I always joked that my dream job would be working at Blockbuster, recommending all the great movies I could watch with abandon, and writing on the other days. Like Quentin Tarantino, only minus the talent. And the script.
I have been told, on more than one occasion, that I get way too invested in fictional characters. I must confess that this statement is a gross understatement of epic proportions. Not only do I become way too invested in characters in books, movies and even the odd television show, but I end up in mourning, despondent and inconsolable when some of these characters die or the book comes to an end…which ever is first. My husband reminds me of my ‘creepy empathy for people who aren’t real’ all of the time and I gladly acknowledge it. He also reminds me that if I worked at Blockbuster I would have been unemployed by now. Touche.
I think the magic of books and movies is their ability to let us fall into another time or era, another person’s mind, and wander through different countries and cultures while embracing a different reality. I am not really a TV person, (that has sort of changed thanks to cable tv), but I could watch movies anytime. And I do. Hell, I’ve seen Pulp Fiction and Snatch at least 120 plus times. I literally have Pulp Fiction memorized, yet I find myself watching it again and again. I just recently watched Moonlight and Manchester By The Sea, and I’m certain I was not the only one to use up a box of Kleenex while watching these movies. However, I might be the only one who actually analyzed the main characters and agonized over their pain and loss for days after I watched them. I literally felt sick to my stomach for Casey Affleck’s character when he suffered flashbacks of the tragedy that derailed his entire life. (Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans and ruin the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it). Of course, my son reminded me that it wasn’t real and that I was being ridiculous. I snapped back to reality rather quickly after that. Damn kids anyways.
I’m confident I am not alone in my empathy for fictional characters, otherwise all of those books, movies and television series would not be as popular as they are. It would be too easy to change the channel or close the book if we found ourselves not caring at all about the people we are following, no matter how exciting the plot is. Movies and books especially, have the ability to blanket our thoughts with an entirely different realm of emotions and feelings and they force us to think about things in a different light, and to view the world through someone else’s eyes. They teach us how to understand our fellow man, good bad or downright evil. How else can we explain the phenomenon of Breaking Bad? Sure, the plot was exciting and different from any other mainstream television series, but it was Walter White and Jesse Pinkman that truly captivated our hearts and minds every week. We fell down that twisted rabbit hole of fear, power and addiction with them and we felt intimately connected to the timid, inept science teacher and struggling addict as they slowly evolved in to entirely different people as crazy circumstances dictated their lives. Sure, some of it was pretty far-fetched, but we didn’t care. What we did care about, was how Walter White became increasingly powerful and volatile and how Jesse was becoming more conscientious of others and suddenly aware of his partner’s thirst for power over everything else. Okay, I will stop now, as I can go on and on about this for days, proving my ‘creepy empathy for make-believe characters’. And when the series ended? Ya, how about we don’t even go there. Exit stage left…
I can make a list of books that have impacted me from my teenager years onward, and my Top Ten Movie list has over twenty movies in it. Apparently I suck at Math.
My family may make fun of my strange affection for anything to do with the arts, whether it be a play we saw, an amazing art display, or that movie on Cheap Tuesday, but I have come to think of it as a gift. I cherish my memories that I have of certain books I read, and even music that I listened to will transport me back to the story and the characters of a certain plot. Everytime I hear songs from Kings of Leon I am reminded of the summer vacation that I devoured Norman Mailer’s “Executioner’s Song”. Apparently I am a glutton for punishment, because it’s a very long, painfully well done book. And Derek and the Domino’s “Layla”? You may hear a great instrumental showcasing Eric Clapton’s mad skills during the last part of that iconic song, but all I see is the scenes where bodies show up in garbage trucks and sleazy apartments all over Brooklyn when Robert De Niro’s character starts killing everyone off after the airport heist in “Goodfellas”. Every. Single. Time.
At the risk of sounding weirder than I already I am, I share this post with you to let others know that you are not alone in your loving propensity towards fictional characters and made up scenarios. Without us the arts would be just another ‘Creative Writing’ class that no one actually takes. So go ahead, cry when Bumble Bee from the “Transformers” movie is being tortured by the US Military, even if he is just a car. Go ahead and mourn the loss of such greats as Tony Soprano and Walter White. And cherish that final chapter of the latest British page turner that reveals the twist you never saw coming! It’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with you. It just means you’re special.
It also means you probably should read “What She Knew” by Gilly MacMillan and probably check out HBO’s “Big Little Lies” which ended last night in an explosive finale that tied up every single loose end….and still has me shuddering and grinning and screaming ‘Girl Power’ like a lunatic.
The End. Until next obsesssion.