There is something about the promise that you will do something regularly that turns into a chore when you start thinking people are watching you. I started this series because it occurred to me that I was going through gigabytes of content every week and not really letting anything sink in, like stuff was just washing over me without leaving any trace behind. I realised something was off when I started rewatching movies I had watched a while back and couldn’t even remember the ending. The thought passed me that I might be going senile, although it’s impossibly early, but maybe more obvious than that, that I was just not really engaging with anything I watched or read or, especially, listened to.
So writing this series of posts became my way of holding down whatever thought or emotion I experienced while “consuming content”. I also thought it might be a good way to keep a record of all the things I’ve been reflecting on, seeing that I no longer have a blog per se or write any of my normal musings on design and marketing or the Internet.
The trouble is seeing people engage with some of these writings has started making me feel like I have to write. And there are weeks when I don’t watch anything worth writing about, or listen to any new podcasts or read anything other than my work stuff. Does that count? Should I be writing about that as well? I don’t think so. The point of this was to record what made me reflect on things that were interesting or mattered, and while work stuff does matter, it is not something I can freely or openly write about at times. But more than the lack of subject matter, what seems to be a recurring obstacle is exactly what seemed to irk me about Facebook and then Twitter and now here. It’s that the minute someone’s watching, IT no longer is something you do for yourself but rather a performance for others, something they’ve “paid in attention” to get and you’re indebted to them to keep doing it, at the same time, every week as you had initially “agreed”. I’m not sure there is an implied contract between myself and the people who read this, but to me it feels like there is. I feel like maybe there is one person out there remembering “hmm, it’s Sunday and Bogdana normally writes something on Sunday” and I have a responsibility not to let that person down.
Of course, I could choose to interpret this sense of pressure as positive stress, as a way to order my life and to give a cadence to my weekends. Ultimately, the looming “deadline” of my Sunday series should make me wonder if it’s worth consuming a particular piece of content, listening to a podcast, rewatching Friends for the nth time, etc. It could be a carrot. It sometimes feels like a stick, and every Sunday afternoon I feel I am maybe letting someone, myself / others, down if I’ve not managed to write something. Maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe.
At any rate, last 10 days or so have not been completely bare of new things. We watched Official Competition, a movie with a very Almodovar-like cast (Penelope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Oscar Martinez) and it was fun and smart and we laughed a lot. I also rewatched Basic Instinct since it’s going away from Prime at the end of the month. Basic Instinct was quite a thing when it was released and eventually reached Romania. We’d barely been out of communism for a few years and the movie was a major no-no, being considered borderline porn and really impossible to watch unless you were sneaking a VHS behind your parents’ backs. I don’t remember watching it but I do remember that for a very long time all I could seem to recall when talking about it was the “no underwear” scene, and having watched it last week it occurred to me that the movie itself is actually a pretty entertaining, well made example of its genre. I think having Sharon Stone expose herself to a roomful of men probably did the movie a disservice. Without that, it may have been less infamous but maybe more generally appreciated.
Watching Basic Instinct reminded me of a podcast series I really enjoyed called Fatal Attractions which my boyfriend introduced me to. We took to watching the movie, then listening to the episode and then seeing if we agreed with what was being discussed and it made for a pretty entertaining winter watching ritual. You should give it a listen.
I also wanted to start something new last week, podcast-wise, since I have been listening to the same ones (Death Panel, with a great episode on the US response to the COVID pandemic, Oh God What Now, Origin Story and, of course, The Rest Is Politics); I eventually came across something called If Books Could Kill which sounded really amazing: two people reading really famous non-fiction and discussing it. I was excited to see them tackle some real “gems” like “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and “The Game” and tried the episode on “The Game” — which I have read myself because I could not believe it was a real book. Sadly, I would not be recommending this particular podcast. And that is my very diplomatic way of saying that I don’t know why we have so many podcasts where two — ostensibly reasonable and somewhat amusing people, just talk shit about things, with limited context and even more limited research. If podcasting is just reading a book and then making fun of its absurd parts by pointing them out, well, I too could be a sensation. I already have tens of ideas of things I could look at and then make fun of: Emily in Paris, all advertising ever, season 5 of Friends, Asos fashion hauls, Amazon shopping lists, how Starbucks names its specialty coffees…so, yeah. That podcast is a no.
Anyway, let’s come back to regular programming. Reading wise, the desert continues. It’s a reading Sahara for me, having only managed to read the review of Spare (Harry’s memoir) in the LRB. No comments will be made on that account :) the review was hysterically funny. Other than that I have been feeding my spleen by reading the latest on the Guardian which did surface this gem for me. And I would not have paused for a second, if I had not been one of THOSE PEOPLE, the people who for no apparent reason watch stuff with subtitles on more and more frequently. For me it started with Amazon Prime, where the score and the dialogue come through my TV at completely different volumes, the score incredibly loud and any dialogue barely audible. So, in order not to antagonise our neighbours, we started watching Prime stuff with subtitles on. But for the life of me I don’t know why I rewatch Friends with subtitles on and I have been making a genuine effort to stop. Incidentally, through the magic of algorithms, I was also served another “gem” on LinkedIn in response to this article: someone (a creative director :)) who was responding to this article by wondering why we aren’t “getting creative” with the subtitles, “the last frontier of cinematic creativity”. And there, as you can imagine, is yet another idea for a podcast: talking shit about people saying things on Linkedin :)
But that, my friends, is all for now.