So, I was talking to my family the other day, and my sister mentioned a childhood film she remembered being rather creepy, but she couldn’t remember what it was. She mentioned a kitten rolled up in pudding, and I knew exactly what she was talking about. It was a tape of Beatrix Potter stories that we watched frequently as children. What’s interesting to me is how indelibly these images are branded on my mind, even though it’s probably been more than ten years since I saw that film. I think this is probably due to the fact that we watched things many, many times as kids, until we internalized them. If I read or watch something now that I don’t understand right away, chances are I’ll get frustrated or distracted, and go do something else. As a kid, I would just go with the flow and watch ‘til the end, and then watch it again, and again until I understood. Take Rock-a-Doodle-Doo, another childhood favorite that recently popped up on Netflix Instant. It’s from the studio of Don Bluth, and it’s a pretty trippy story. I remember being seriously confused the first few times I saw it, but by the 15th viewing, I knew exactly what was going on.
Why am I so much more discretionary with my reading and film watching now? I think this is due to the sense that there is so much art out there that we feel we need to consume, and the fear of wasting our time with mediocre art. I tend to think of my life as a video game, and every time I read a new book, or watch a new movie, a little icon pops up with a chime, saying something like, “‘A Tale of Two Cities’ unlocked!” (Note: I have not actually read A Tale of Two Cities) And then it’s added to my personal inventory, there for me to access forever. Of course, this is often not the case, and I forget it a week after I finish it. I only want to fill my inventory with ‘good’ stuff(the idea of certain kinds of literature being more worthy than other is a whole different debate). There’s an NPR article that talks about the whole idea of completism more eloquently than I could, so I’m just going to link to it(click on the photo). This is definitely an idea that I’ve only become aware of as I’ve gotten older. When I was in middle school, I would pretty much read whatever was in front of me, which gave me a really wide range of knowledge about really random stuff. I had free range of the public library, and my parents never censored what I read, so I learned a lot of interesting things from books at a youngish age.
I feel like I don’t finish as many books as I used to, or absorb them as well as I used to, and that eats at me more than it used to. I miss that need to wholly consume a film, to watch it so many times it’s imprinted on your brain and you know it backwards and forwards and inside out. But then I remember that I still do that, just to a lesser extent. I listen to favorite albums on repeat for months, I have a small selection of books that I frequently reread, and certain films I do watch again and again. It’s just less than it used to be. Part of the reason those childhood films stand out so strongly in my mind is because of the nostalgia; they’re more special because they were a very specific experience I shared with my brother and sister in our basement. Although, as with all shared experiences, turns out we all remember it a little differently. I mostly remember being entranced with the stories and the images, and in my mind I associate those films with the golden period of childhood, while my sister was apparently terrified by many of them, including but not limited to Fern Gully and Beatrix Potter. I loved Fern Gully - that’s pretty much how I learned how paper is made.
I think what I’m really trying to say is, I wish I still had nothing better to with my time than sit around watching awesomely weird videos about Elvis-like roosters and rats baking poor kittens named Tom into pies.