January 23, 2005 by Allen George
Five years old now, and yet I watched it for the first time last night at 1AM. I’d heard so much about it, almost always in a positive vein and I was curious. What was it about? How would I react? Would I even be able to relate? But no, if I try to place myself last night, the overriding emotion I felt was anticipation. Perhaps I just wanted to like the movie.
I’ve never bought into the cult of stardom, though I attribute that more to pure circumstances as opposed to any grand design on my part. Since I arrived in Canada over a decade ago I have not had a cable or satellite TV connection at home. For six years we used rabbit years on a little Sony TV, but even that tenuous grip on mass entertainment was lost in the dying years of the 90’s. Our flat screen sits silent now, every channel tuned in to snow.
It’s only when you don’t have television that you realize just how much of people’s conversations are structured around the medium. Phrases picked up, the latest shows watched, the latest movie trailers, the funniest sitcoms, schedules arranged around favorites – all of this was foreign to me. 400 channel universe? I can’t remember anything more than 10 channels – 11 on a lucky day. Reality TV craze? I read about Survivor and still haven’t actually seen it. Last episode of Friends? Heck – Friends for me ended sometime in ’99 – or was it ’00? “So and so did such and such on The Apprentice”. The Apprentice? What’s that? When people start talking TV, I shut up, ’cause I just don’t have a clue.
It’s definitely easier to get along when you’re in tune with popular culture. Social lubricant, source of witty one-liners, inside jokes shared and an easy ‘in’ for any conversation – what ever it’s function – TV’s there for almost everyone.
I’m…I’m at a loss to explain why I mentioned all of this. Maybe it’s because not having something so many people share – and perhaps take for granted – puts you on the periphery. You find yourself observing. Maybe there’s some comfort in knowing of a tangible difference, something that sets you slightly apart?
I found myself less absorbed in the dynamics of the band itself, the music or the rivalries and jealousies of the band-members than in the (side?) story of William Miller and Penny Lane. Voyeuristically watching it all unfold I had to ask myself – just how many times does this same dynamic play itself out? Different settings, different people, but how many times?