Home Movies

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know what a movie is anymore. 

Movies used to be these films that you’d go out to your local theatre to see. 

Sure, you could watch them on your TV, or in recent years, via your screen/tablet of choice.  But this was only AFTER we had to move our asses out of the house and out to….well, somewhere.

Leave… the … house??

Now we have the chance the watch them sitting, lying or doing god knows what else in our living rooms, bedrooms or kitchens.

Heck, we could even be the FIRST on our block to view next year’s Academy Award winning best picture sitting on our bathroom toilets via our iPhones if we so desire.

Gonna work all day to get that out of my head

Too vivid an image, I know, and who’d want to?   (Note: Okay, you know someone would).  Still, this is more than possible and, in certain circles, could be viewed as progress.

The groupthink in the ad world right now is that consumers, more than anything, desire OPTIONS and will pay handsomely for the privilege of getting what they REALLY want in that moment.

And, let’s face it, which of us at some moment doesn’t desperately want to be the FIRST?

ME! ME! ME!

Of course, the latter doesn’t seem to apply to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in far too many communities in the Deep South.  Despite more than 50% of the US having already received at least one dosage there are millions of holdouts determined to be the lastor in the (not) over my dead body category.

These are the kind of people who have stubbornly vowed to never watch Titanic or The Lord of the Rings.

And lest you think I’m any different, just know to this day I’ve never seen Jaws. Sure, I’ve always blamed it on my lifelong love of the beach and body surfing.  Why put those images and ideas in my brain?

But at this point, well, it’s just a matter of pride.  And since June is PRIDE month for all LGBTQ Americans, I don’t see any reason to end this 47-year boycott.

:: wink ::

Still, Jaws admittedly became a seminal MOVIE movie back when it was released in 1975.  Meaning, that not only was it a box-office smash action film but it also had a story and characters.  So much so, that it likely paved the way for films like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.

That is, at least in the minds of the movie studios and film financiers everywhere. 

Jaws might not have actually won the best picture Oscar, but it’s worth noting that it did receive an Academy Award nomination in the best picture category.  And that’s really saying something since that year its fellow nominees were classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville.

One of these things is not like the other

I’d venture to say the only one of those that would be likely to be given a green light as a movie today is Jaws. 

I think what THEY’RE really saying is that only the threat of a shark attack would be enough to get us all up and out of our homes and back to our local theatres.

The rest, well, they could be binge-watched.

Thanks, Steven (Note: Spielberg, that is).  Despite your penance with movies like Schindler’s List, Lincoln and the upcoming West Side Story, you literally did create a monster that has stayed with us to this day and morphed into all kinds of variants.

“You’re welcome Chairy”

Once studios realized they didn’t have to delve too far into the human psyche and take very many risks away from funneling their money into tried-and-true formulas, they didn’t.  Or mostly didn’t.

This brings us back to not leaving our homes and what the definition of a movie is.

In the last ten days, I’ve binge-watched two extremely watchable movies that are not considered movies at all – Amazon’s highly original, bold and superbly reimagined historical drama The Underground Railroad and HBO Max’s infinitely engaging murder mystery, character-driven drama about the American working class, and the rest of us, Mare of Easttown.

Both a must

The UR is 10episodes and M of E is 7 episodes.  Total then up and they’re approximately a 17-hour movie.

In 1975 they likely would have been 8 different movies made by various studios on similarly themed subjects over a decade. 

I’m not sure if that’s better of worse than what they would be considered now, which are stellar episodes of two contained limited series able to dig deep into the human condition in a way few theatrical features can or seldom try to do in 2021 (Note: Pandemic not withstanding).

Give them all the awards please

I only know that MOVIES like these, which are solely being shown on television, are the reason that I, as a young person, wanted to go OUT to the movies in the first place.

Oh sure, I’d leave my bathroom or get off the couch to be frightened to death by The Exorcist or Poltergeist or even The Shining. And as a prideful LGBTQ person I couldn’t wait for the spectacle of something like the next midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Or even, well, okay, Funny Girl. (Note: I was VERY young and my aunt and Mom took me when I begged).

Me, at the movies

But spectacle wasn’t ALL the movies offered.

What got me out of my bathroom, off my couch and out of my house was the chance to connect with something recognizable and human and identifiable.

It wasn’t solely the in-your-face thrill but the thrill of realizing, among a group of other humans, that you were not alone and that others had the same fears, loves, dysfunctions and battles with the establishment as you did and that it was okay – or could be.

Most importantly, it was finally, the knowledge that you were not alone.

Also you were allowed to openly weep in public

I loved feeling that not alone feeling among other people watching something deep and human that up to that point had, unbeknownst to me, been plaguing me in the darkest, most dangerous depths of dread in my brain.

Those are the movies I loved and the movies that, post pandemic, I still long to leave my home tablet and screens to return to.   And the ones I seldom find anywhere, pre or post pandemic.

Yet strangely, I do remain ever hopeful.   Because the one thing the movies have taught me is that I am NOT alone.

“Day After Day” – Badfinger

Not Over Till It’s Over

This is not meant to scare anyone.  But here are some facts.

The U.S. is about THREE TIMES the geographic size of India. 

Yet India is home to 1.3 BILLION people as opposed to the U.S. population of just 333 million. 

That means FOUR TIMES as many humans live in India in about ONE-THIRD of the space we have.

To put it another way:

Imagine if EVERY U.S. STATE IN OUR EASTERN TIME ZONE suddenly vanished and EVERY PERSON WHO LIVED IN THOSE STATES instantly materialized into the states that remained.

That’s how much physically closer we would all be and that’s how socially distanced we would all be, mask mandates be damned. 

Okay, are you with me so far?

Uhhh…. yes?

Good.

Now even though none of us want to think about this, let’s briefly look at the latest statistics about Covid infection rates and deaths.

U.S. infection rates are now 50-60,00 per day, which sounds like a lot but actually is pretty great considering in early January, prior to the Biden-Harris administration taking office, we were at an all-time high of just over 300,000 per day.

Know what the infection rate was last week in India – OVER 400,000 PEOPLE PER DAY.

Putting it mildly

Yup, after enduring a first wave of infections surprisingly well considering its size, India is now exploding with Covid disease and deaths, so much so that crematoriums have been overrun and mass groups of corpses are now being burned in the streets.

I watched one news report that showed 44 ambulances with dead bodies lined up at one site with nowhere to go.

Sad, tragic but, um, thank god (Note: Our whoever you believe Her to be) WE’RE safe.  Right?

You can go ahead and press that

India survived surprisingly well in the first wave of COVID infections but it is now in the midst of a much more deadly second wave.

Why?

Because the second wave in India is due to a NEW COVID VIRUS VARIANT that is much more lethal and virulent than anything that came before it.

This is what viruses do.  As they get eradicated or slowed, they mutate to survive.  Sometimes they do this ineffectively and, other times, quite efficiently.

Not so fast everyone

For instance, I recall vividly being told in the last half of 2020 that the UK variant of COVID was starting to be found in California and today, mid-2021, it is now, by far, the dominant variant.

See how this stuff happens?

This might all seem potentially manageable if the Indian variant behaves like the UK variant.  But there is not yet ANY EVIDENCE of that.

In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave an interview on NBC this weekend where he unequivocally stated that, according to early research, in terms of the current science and the vaccines available, the India variant was so far PROBLEMATIC.

Now after decades of going to doctors for various medical conditions for myself as well as for my elderly parents, let me translate to you what problematic means from a physician.

Me, hearing the word “problematic”

 It means not good, it means we don’t have an answer, it means this can be worrisome.

At the very least it means, you are by no means cured or even out of the woods.  It means this is SOMETHINGOr worse.

Q: Oh come on, Chair, wait.  Why are you sending us into mass panic? Will the India variant even be here?  I mean, I just read that the US has restricted all air travel from India.

A:  You mean that edict this week, after we’ve intermingled aerially for several months when their cases were only 200-380,000 per day?  Right.  No reason to think an airborne virus from another country overseas could possibly get here and take over.  (Note: See several paragraphs above)

Sigh

In the interest of fairness, let’s note that the head of one German biotech company that helped develop the Pfizer vaccine, said that his vaccine was “clever” and “would hold” against this new variant.

Well, let’s hope it’s VERY clever because even though Mr. Biotech noted he wasn’t worried” he also let it slip between press sound bytes that they were “still testing” its effectiveness in combatting this new strain.

Meanwhile:

INDIA: 19.2 million Covid cases; 212,000 deaths.

U.S.: 32.5 million Covid cases; 580,000 deaths.

Yes, we’re still in the lead but soon they will soon be nipping at our heels.

 Literally.

My summer plans

And through no fault of their own.

Because the sad truth in all of this lies in something I heard one Indian doctor say live on TV this weekend. He spoke it in his native language but then translated in hopes that the rest of us might hear and then take action.

If it affects some of us, it affects all of us.

What to do?  Well –

– Getting the vaccine and any inevitable booster would be a start.

– Following CDC guidelines on mask wearing and social distancing could also help.

– Listening to science and facts vs. political dogma and conspiracy theories from your favorite cable TV news host or dark web site definitely wouldn’t hurt.

Lighting this nightly

-Donating a small amount of money, time or attention to help out someone/anyone/anything in support of any of the above would also be noteworthy.

And when all else fails, be kinder to others, even yourself. 

Because you never know what’s just around our MUTUAL corners.

Ben Lee – “We’re All in This Together”