Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fellini It Isn't

For someone who has, in her life, taken great pains to appear smarter and more cultured than you, the evolution of taste takes its toll. The truth is, on any given evening, I would prefer to watch Dune than The Seventh Seal. In fact, on any given evening, I would prefer to watch Dune over most other things. I have a Dune problem. I'm going to attempt to not cast my lower-brow tastes in any kind of hipsterish rejection of the highbrow and merely say that after an adolescence of total modernist immersion with some Renaissance epic poetry thrown in for good measure, I'm ok with the fact that I can't stand the New Yorker and generally won't even read it on the toilet.

We saw the movie Red over the weekend and I loved it. Now my love of ensemble action-esque movies is nothing new. I have been a Poseidon Adventure, Towering Inferno, Murder on the Orient Express, etc. fan for many years. Little pleased me more than the original Ocean's Eleven simply because I hoped it was the start of more 70's-era ensembles of silliness. Red, which is decidedly lowbrow was a delightful romp with all the attendant irony I look for in such things. Also, Helen Mirren has a sick body. Sick.

But it dawned on me that maybe I have ever so little less to prove by my choice of media consumption. After all, as devoted partner notes, my humor tends towards the eight-year-olds never so apparently as when I'm watching Family Guy and laughing at doodie jokes. When I reach for a book to reread, it's true that it's frequently Foucault's Pendulum, but the others that get reread often are American Psycho and Tim Cahill's Road Fever. So it's not all semiotics and fancy words. I have tried, and disliked, many of the new guard of intellectuals, leading me to believe that what I'm looking for has changed, not merely that the new guard of intellectuals is a bloviating morass of mediocrity (see how I used really snooty words there?).

And, as is a case I have heard from other recovering, or semi-recovering, self-satisfied asshats, I'd rather read good non-fiction these days than mediocre fiction. Philip Roth, a shining example of self-satisfied asshattery, has become more of a punchline than a good read. After all, I know of no one other than Philip Roth as interested in Philip Roth's erectile dysfunction. Now, I'm not yet at the point where I salivate over the newest biography of a nineteenth century politician, but I don't discount the possibility that that time may come.

As for film, or shall I say movies, I never much went in for the idea of film as art and I'd much rather laugh at a movie than feel consternation at one. Again, a good documentary would serve me better than a mediocre thought experiment.

Now, I'm not over the hump yet. I will still disdain the bottom of the barrel with full voice. You need not worry about seeing me thumbing through Danielle Steele or any of the author's who have ads on the subways, nor will you catch me waiting in line for Jackass 3 or a Rob Schneider movie (were another to ever be made), but I'm just no longer interested in subjecting myself to what is cast as High Art for the sake of having experienced High Art. I've experienced a buttload of High Art and it's taught me that not all of it is actually good (I'm looking at you, D.H. Lawrence, you pitiable hack).

Devoted partner, on the other hand, is not off the hook for his choice of reading material, and frankly neither are you if I catch you reading a book about Vampires that wasn't written by Bram Stoker.

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