Hi. This is my new column. It’s sort of been thrust upon me, and even now, I’m unsure what will really be its theme. It may never even have one. The idea of having something so undefined and loose is really terrifying to me, but I’m going to go with it, and we’ll see what comes of it.
But a funny thing happened as I was laying in bed, racking my brains, trying to come up with a viable and discussable topic. My iPod inexplicably landed on the Blade Runner score, and I inwardly shuddered, and then realized “Holy shit, I should write about this very sensation, and by doing so, exorcise it forever!”
I love Blade Runner. Every sci-fi nerd or nerdette worth their salt does. I’ve lost track of the first time I saw it — probably 2am on a cable channel — but I can remember the moment it was ruined for me: ComicCon 2007. This was the year they had a Blade Runner: The Final Cut panel and like many eager geeks, I plunked my butt down in Hall H to see it. I was with a group of friends, and we were all excitedly whispering (let me stress that — whispering in the booming audio of Hall H) back and forth about the footage and what We Had Read on the Internet About It. (This was back when I was still a happy reader, working my way into becoming a neurotic writer. I know, it wasn’t that long ago.)
Suddenly, I heard a loud sigh and a woman’s voice boomed behind me: “Well, honey, I was enjoying it until some people decided they couldn’t shut the fuck up.”
Being the hothead I am, I turned around and said “Yeah, I was enjoying it too until some people decided they had to be fucking assholes about it!” Or something to that effect. All I really remember is that her eyes bugged out of her head, and I threw a few more hissed fucks her way, and then we left.
My friends decided I needed a drink. Once out at the Tin Fish, cold Coronas in hand, we bitterly railed about how nasty the con was this year, and traded stories of similar jerks. We all had awful encounters that year, and we were all quiet and good-natured geeks. To this day, the woman’s reaction utterly baffles me. I can’t think of a time before or since that I’ve been in Hall H without similar (and far louder than our breathy “They redid the Zhora scene!” back and forth) discussions of joy and fandom erupted in seats around me. That’s ComicCon. It’s not a movie theater.
Regardless of who the asshole was or wasn’t in that particular situation, the result is this — it has really damaged Blade Runner for me. I’ve seen it once since then, and I enjoyed it with a minimum of salted slug stomach. But it was still there. It remains whenever the score loops into my iPod, and I hastily turn it off. I just think of that awful woman, and the boiling fury I felt when I realized she was talking about us, and I can’t think of anything else.
Blade Runner isn’t the only one. There’s others. Hook has always made me nauseated, and not for the critical reasons everyone else hates it. The day I saw it was one of the lousiest ever, and it fed into a crappy summer of best friend betrayal. In fact, Hook was even (bizarrely) brought up in one of these very childhood friends. My emotionally troubled friend decided she would rather hang out with her baby-sitter and watch MTV, leaving me outside with her little brother. The sitter was your typical psychotic teen, and wouldn’t let us into the garage, the basement, or the house where any of the toys or bikes were.
Her excuse? “Use your imagination. You think the kids in Hook had any toys? They used their imagination!”
Me being a smart-ass, I said “Yeah well, I can’t exactly imagine a bike and have it appear before me like they did in Hook.”
So, yeah. I hate that movie. If I see the poster for it, I don’t think of the movie itself. I remember the awful not-gonna-describe it day I watched it, and I see my friend’s sneering face as her baby-sitter inexplicably bludgeoned us with its life lesson.
Hook isn’t a movie worth reclaiming in my memory. Blade Runner is though. As are a number of things that have been inwardly trounced by my writing about them too fervently and too openly on the Internet. The day I decided to expose my Tomb Raider fandom to the Internet is a day I will always regret, and one I’ve tried to consistently undo. One of the most difficult things about this job is that you are no one if you don’t share what you love. It is the rock of your credibility. I love that film. I love that actor. I love that soundtrack. I’ve researched them to the ends of their existence. I will share my passion with you. And you may ridicule and destroy it, and with it, my love of this thing.
It’s preposterous, of course. I often ridicule people for taking my opinions or criticisms too seriously — “If you loved Avatar, what the hell does it matter what I say? It’s like religion, be secure in your faith!” — and yet I have allowed the same to happen to me. Criticism doesn’t bother me, oddly enough, but a bad memory does. And a bad memory can be the time I was hideously sick watching a particular film, or I got into a rip-roaring fight with someone prior to going into the theater, or someone told me to shut the fuck up at a Blade Runner panel, or the day I exposed a corny obsession too eagerly.
I look at ordinary film goers — the people who plunk down money every weekend, seeing whatever is out, no awareness of who or what it is they’re watching — and I envy them. There has to be so much freedom in not caring too deeply about this medium. I’m sure they have their own version of this (a sports logo, perhaps, or a song) but I’m a little jealous of people who don’t carry so much cinematic baggage, or risk it with every day at work.
Yet if I was like them, I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be doing this. I wouldn’t know the agony and the ecstasy that is cinematic fandom, and I wouldn’t be sharing it with you. We’re here because we care. We’re weird (from a certain point of view) because we get so goddamn involved with movies. They’re bonded into our experiences. They are our life. And life comes with good and bad, so it only stands to reason that it colors our (or at least my) viewing experience.
And what does an overwrought (and as I read this, I fear this is what you will think) person do? Wait for a good memory to come along and recapture the film for you? Simply hope the pain lessens with time?
I don’t know. But I really want to watch Blade Runner again without a salted slug stomach.