Sometimes you need to know
A while back I ran across a music video by a singer that I like. I own a few of his albums, and several of his singles are in some of my favorite playlists. I had never heard the song, but the title seemed familiar. As I watched this video scenes from what was clearly a movie kept appearing. I found out that the song was the theme song for the movie in question. Then I remembered that I had read about the movie, which was written and directed by a director whose previous works (a pair of gay romantic comedies) were movies with which I was familiar.
I really liked the theme song, and it was available in iTunes. I went to buy it, and saw that the entire soundtrack of this movie that I had never seen was available. And as I browsed the track list, I saw that several of the songs were recorded by other singers I knew and liked. I listened to samples of several of the tracks, and the next thing I knew I bought the whole album.
Soon I had several favorites from the album that I had added to various playlists. And when I noticed that the movie in question was available on Netflix, I added it to my queue.
And while I continued to listen to music from the movie, including the theme song, the film sat there in my queue. Several weeks back, I got an email from one of the sites where I buy hard-to-find movies that they had a DVD sale going, and this movie was part of the sale. I decided that I would be more likely to actually watch this movie if I bought it, so I did.
Lately I’ve been watching movies from Netflix on Friday nights. But rather than watch movies from my rather full queue, I keep watching cheesy old sci fi films. This last Friday, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for cheesy sci fi, and I checked my queue, noticing this movie still in my list.
Rather than stream it over the network, I figured what I ought to do is watch the disc, since I’d actually bought my own copy, right? Besides, since we bought the Blu-ray player, I haven’t tried out its up-sampling from DVD feature. Another good reason to watch the disc.
Even though I’ve read some reviews of the movie, I didn’t know much about it. I knew the main character was an aspiring actor trying to break into the business in Los Angeles. I also knew that the reviews had been positive, several of them specifically saying that the director was maturing, compared to his earlier work.
I was enjoying the movie. At about the halfway mark, I realized that there were only two logical endings from that point. Either things were going to go very, very badly for the main character and he would meet a bad end, or things would get very bad, but he would pull a happy ending out of it.
And I wasn’t sure I was in the mood for the former. Especially when I was watching something by myself (Michael having decided to take a nap just before our pizza arrived).
Part of the problem is that I’ve seen more than my fair share of stories where the gay character meets a tragic end. Now, to be fair, those are usually older films, and usually the gay character who meets the aforementioned tragic ending is the film’s token gay character, rather than the protagonist.
But not always.
I wanted another slice of pizza, anyway, so I hit pause and headed into the kitchen. When I came back to the living room with a fresh glass of juice and a couple of slices, I decided I should take a bathroom break since I had the movie paused. When I came back, I decided I should do a quick check of twitter to see what my friends were up to. Then I started eating the pizza.
I still hadn’t picked up the remote and unpaused the movie.
I really had been enjoying the film. I found the lead character very engaging. I was definitely invested in finding out how his story turned out. And that was the problem, I cared about the character and was really, really was not in the mood for a tragedy. Especially the “young queer person spirals ever downward to an untimely death (or equivalent).”
And what really worried me about that being where the movie was going were all of those reviews that said this film showed the writer/director “maturing.” His previous movies, at least the ones I’d seen, were all romantic comedies of one sort or another. Fun, fluffy movies with happy endings. A lot of critics believe the totally false myth that a happy ending equals shallow, dumb, frivolous, and/or immature; and that a storyteller isn’t discerning, thoughtful, serious, or developed unless they tell bleak and dismal tales.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a well-done tragedy. Get me on the topic of Shakespeare’s Othello, for instance, and I will talk your ear off about what a wonderful and powerful tale it is and what a delightfully wicked and witty villain Iago is.
I kept finding excuses not to pick up the remote. Which was silly.
I thought about my reluctance some more, trying to decide whether it was simply that I wanted the story to end the way I wanted it, or if something else was feeding my reticence. I eventually decided I was overthinking it.
So, I googled the movie, skimmed through a plot summary, saw which ending it was going toward, and unpaused the movie. The movie went to a pretty dark place before the end. It wasn’t easy to watch just how bad things got for the character I had become attached to—even knowing how it was going to end.
Sometimes we want to be surprised. Sometimes we don’t. And sometimes we just need to know what to brace ourselves for.