Digital Polyphony

film, games, memories & random thoughts


Escapism and I

Posted on February 8, 2012 at 7:25 AM

Escapism and I

I like to lose myself in movies. I like to escape reality.

Of course that's obvious because everyone does that, but let me put it in terms of my own perspective. I'm rarely one to "get lost" in a moment. My mind is always moving a million times a minute, sometimes over simple things as "I need to do laundry" or "have to pick up so and so at the airport," and other times over more serious or creative-minded things like "I need to make time to do that painting" and "I need to make a list of where to submit this material." Often I'll just be standing around and should be concerned about the present, the here and now, but I never am. I'm always with a sense of planning or anticipating. Setting up one thing to achieve something else, wondering how I could do something or planning my day when it's not even that day yet. Even as I type this, my mind is going "as soon as I'm done with this I need to do this other thing then that."

Moments of just not caring about all that, forgetting about any problems or issues or concerns, are pretty rare. Then there's movies.

When I watch a movie, nothing else matters. I absolutely turn off my mind and just let it consume me. This is probably why I can watch movies multiple times. Even when I know the twists or what might be coming, my mind is in a state of a pure escapist purgatory that it's like watching it new again. Sure, the "surprise" may not be there, but the anticipation of it still is.

I sometimes wonder if I'm in a rare group of people with this, for lack of a better word, condition. Or two, I should say. One, in that watching films is the only time I can tune out reality - so much so to the point that I can't stand to be distracted from them and get upset if I feel someone else around is taking me out of this state of mind of mine. The other in that I'm so lost in that hour and half to two hours, hopefully more, that I no longer think about what might come or what has come. At any given second, I am lost in that moment and it's the only time it actually occurs on a consistent basis.

In case you need a definition...

In rare moments, I can "get lost" in a video game, or a song, or maybe when I'm with someone I like and so on, but they're brief.  Games can be too frustrating, music something I'll leave more in the background, and books, the only comparable medium I can really have a similar feeling towards, can take too long, can be too active in nature and too easy to get distracted from. Movies hit the sweet spot in length, variety and impact. Movies aren't just escapism for me, it's almost like a vacation from reality to such a degree that when I snap back into it, I'm utterly disappointing. It's like going to the Bahamas for a week and that sense of "well, here we are again" when you return to your home and normalcy. I feel it, like getting kicked in the stomach.

Maybe it's that Normalcy I don't like. Maybe I just get bored with it and the nature of film and stores being told are what I find myself most stimulated by. Movies are never normal. They're movies, they can't be. Maybe I'm abnormal. Maybe that's the appeal. Maybe I just need an excuse to get away from it all and movies are the easiest vehicle to do that with.

Despite all the maybe's, there's even another level to it. Though I may have genres I personally enjoy more than others, for the most part any movie is fair game. There's no one style or genre that is excluded from this "me being lost" aspect when viewing it. Now when it's all done I might soak it in, think a bit and write a review on it, but for the runtime of that film it has me. It has every chance to wow me, impress me, make me feel something or just enjoy. One thing I'll never say about a movie is that it "bores" me. Sure, it might be slow, sluggish, bland and banal, but that's a retroactive response, not an active one. "Boredom" is something I feel when at work and tapping my fingers (or writing this blog). I can't call something boring if it has me hooked, no matter how bad it might be.

Escapism isn't just fantasy and science fiction for me, genres across literature and film often associated with the term due to their fantastical natures, but it's the process of the film itself that does it for me no matter the genre or style.

There's a certain simplicity in that. Maybe that's why I like writing about film so much as well. I go in with certain assumptions and expectations, get lost for a few hours without really ever thinking much about it or even writing down notes (save for the credits), then come out of it and think back. Writing a critique or review is often not an emotional response for. I might feel certain things during those hours of escapism, but once its done I think back it less as a response and more like a surgeon dissecting said responses and the reasons behind it. Cold. Clinical maybe. But it allows me to focus and talk about film in a manner that isn't "it sucks" or "I hated it" as often is the case (especially on the internet).

All that aside, the helpful nature of my few moments of thoughtless bliss in front of a movie or television screen, I take time to watch the movies because I need to. It's always scheduled for me in my head. "Tonight I'll watch…" then throw a dart at my far too-large dvd collection. That explains the too-large collection in the first place. I know I'm going to watch movies. I know I'm going to rematch a good portion of them too. I like to have options mingled with a bit of convenience. Thank God for instant streaming in that regard, though I should probably curse it because it's almost too much now.

I always look forward to seeing a movie, but I do have prerequisites in that I hate being taken out of it. That's why I sometimes can't stand going to a theater, especially with a children's film playing. One of my worst experiences in a movie was going to see Up. It was full of kids, obnoxious adults and nobody paying attention to the movie. "Shut up and sit down!" I wanted to scream. But I never do. When that happens, my enjoyment is probably hindered more than most. Sure, nobody likes to have loud kids and people on phones when they're at the theater, but when it was done I couldn't tell if I liked the movie or not. I was so taken out of that escapist moment and thrust into a bitter reality. I need the silence. Sometimes the darkness depending on the film (darker films, either tonally or visually, need to be seen in the dark, whilst, say, a brighter movie I could watch anytime). I need as few distractions as possible. I don't get the moments of escapist any other time, so when that's taken away from me, the only times I ever ask for myself, I become an angry bitter man.

My ideal situation (the empty theater, not the woman...though she's not bad looking...nevermind).

Then again, maybe I'm just bitter by nature and I use my OCD-like obsession to movie watching, and protecting my ideal escapism, as an excuse to vent and point a finger.

Either way movies are to blame, but blame in a good way. You have problems, then you have good problems and loving film, becoming lost in it for whatever reason, is a good problem for me to have. With it comes an unprejudiced love for everything. From foreign dramas to westerns to space operas to adventure. If I didn't have this problem, I wouldn't love film as I do.

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