Monday, October 18, 2010

Getting under my skin

I've recently watched all three Jason Bourne movies, and the process of trying to figure out what I liked about them made me dig a little bit deeper into my own tastes. I've been inspired by Jesse Burneko's post 'Examine your source material'; he talks about examining the things we read and watch, and trying to articulate what it is about them that really speaks to us:
[T]here’s a gap between simply what one enjoys and what actually speaks to one on a personal deep inspirational level.
So I ask you, look at your media. Draw that line in the sand. What have you enjoyed vs. what has gotten really and truly under your skin and into your heart?
Articulating the difference between what I enjoy and what gets under my skin has been pretty useful. See, I enjoy action sequences, and gunfights, and space battles, and complicated brain-boggling mysteries.

With the Bourne movies, I felt that each of them was better than the last in terms of action ... but it's the first one that has the most kick for me. Jason Bourne's dilemma of whether - even with amnesia - he can transcend being the killer that he used to be, whether he can stop sliding back into being an assassin holds a lot of appeal for me. While the action sequences in the next two movies are exciting, that theme of trying of trying to not be a bad person, holding on to your new identity is only sporadically dealt with.

And actually it's that question that really attracted me to Lost in the first season; when the survivors crash-land on the island, no-one knows who they were in their previous pre-crash lives; they have the opportunity to start fresh, to try and transcend their own instincts and habits and flaws ... if they want to. At a deeper level, this is about people trying to change and being dragged down by their own pasts.

Another book that really speaks to me is Marooned in Realtime, a murder mystery set fifty million years in the future, when there are only a few thousand human beings left alive, and the death of any one person is a real threat to the survival of the species. In the same way, I realise that it's those stakes that really appeal to me about Battlestar Galactica: sure, there's space battles and mysteries about the cylons, but the thing that always gets me in that show is Laura Roslin keeping a tally on her whiteboard of the number of humans left alive. It drives home the stakes of the show, and the fact that murder, mutiny and civil war have a cost; you may get what you want, or gain power, but at the cost of jeopardising the survival of humanity.

One final example: I love the first Harry Potter book - to me it's a great examination of a child who's lost everything and who's been alone and misunderstood his whole life finally having the opportunity to make friends with people. The subsequent books, where friendships are tested, and the movies, where friendships are assumed and where Harry Potter is kind of presented as a kid who not only deserves this sort of success but is actually kind of totally entitled to it, leaves me cold.

I'm sure there's more, but it's late and that's a start. What about you? If you dug deep into the things you love, the things that you keep coming back to and that feed your soul, what would you find?
Post a Comment