When I was in high school, I watched the same movies over and over again: The Basketball Diaries, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks. Sure, there were others, but these were my old standards, the movies I returned to again and again because I thought they were special in some way that other movies weren’t. I thought they were bold, daring, edgy. I thought they had things to say that other movies didn’t.
While I still stand by my devotion to Clerks, Kevin Smith’s genius observations on minimum-wage life, I recently attempted to watch Reservoir Dogs again. I settled in with some popcorn and the remote, intent on losing myself in the tale of jewelry-heist-gone-wrong. I still think Quentin Tarantino is one fucked up cat who writes some incredible dialogue, but I no longer have the stomach for his shoot-em-up movies. Tim Roth squirming and squealing in the back of a stolen car while Harvey Keitel navigates Southern California roads toward the hideout is enough to make my stomach do somersaults. And the scene with the ear? Forget it.
As for the Basketball Diaries, I happened upon it while channel surfing. “Oh,” I said to Donna, who was sitting on the couch with me, “I love this movie!” I could only stomach about five minutes of it – the fight scene outside the fast food restaurant, after Leo DiCaprio’s basketball team stole from their opponents, used to seem so badass and tough. Now it just seems juvenile, a childish prank spiraling out of control. And it’s followed almost immediately by the scene in which DiCaprio and his friends are hanging out on the front steps of an apartment building, and Diane the Crackwhore (played oh-so-convincingly by Juliette Lewis) comes strolling along, promising the boys a good time for a hit or a few bucks. I felt ready to vomit. As Diane makes her pitch, one of the boys says to her, “Yeah, we’ll all jump in on ya’.” Diane’s face, registering this statement, is a mixture of confusion and fear – she’s not quite sure she heard what she did, and she’s not quite sure if he was joking or not. But sadly, trumping the confusion and fear is the desperation of her addiction – and I just don’t have the emotional capacity to watch those movies anymore.
I’m not sure what changed in me; my anxiety and my fears have increased since Jacob was born. But I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I have always been able to put myself in the position of all parties in a situation (whether I chose to or not was a different story), but lately it seems I can’t help but do that. I don’t have a choice about it – and even when I know something is a fictionalized account, I have trouble removing myself from the situation.
I don’t know if this is anything more than incoherent rambling, and now I’ve got to split to get out to school.