Monday, December 05, 2005

Theater chill

Ted Koozer, a poet Laureate from Nebraska, used to get up at 5:30 in the morning and write before going to work at his insurance company. As much as I would love (and probably need) to get in that routine, I usually opt for the 'hit the snooze bar until the exact minute where you'll have just enough time to take a shower, dress, gather your lunch and CDs, go outside, scrape the frost off of the car window and speed through morning rush hour traffic to get to work by 7:58 a.m.). I need to get up earlier, however. Every time I do the 7:58 routine, I'm hyper sensitive at work - I don't speak to anyone until my first cup of coffee and the slightest banal bit of conversation from a co-worker can usually result in me biting my lip to prevent me from mumbling something I will later regret. Take the co-worker who comes into the lounge and says only one word - but with enthusiasm. It's usually a food associated word - and that's all he says. (e.g. "COFFEE" or "POPCORN" - basically, whatever is out for consumption).

Anyway - that tangent aside, I saw Walk the Line in the theater a few weeks ago. Good movie. Really good movie. A tad 'too' straightforward in its storytelling, but overall, the director did his job - little distracted you from the performances. One of the two dozen previews screened was Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. People sad lazily and impatiently at previews that featured movies with torture scenes, the tragedy of the 1972 Olympics and a few horrible comedies. But Brokeback Mountain had people laughing nervously, squirming and fidgeting. It was like the seats in the theater malfunctioned and set off a magnetic current throughout the audience.

Few reasons for this uncomfortable reaction. First off - it's too close to peoples' comfort zones. I saw this preview in Omaha. Gay relationships are supposed to happen in big cities ala Will and Grace, not somewhere like Chadron, Nebraska. Secondly, the relationship is not played for laughs ala The Birdcage. The couple in Brokeback Mountain was conflicted and risked being outed in a community that would make living there almost impossible.

If the couple were straight, this movie would have barely registered a nod for most of the audience. Most would be looking at their watches and grumbling about why it takes 15 minutes of previews before a movie to start. And no matter how much we believe we think we have come as a society in acceptance, there are still social situations like the one I just described that show that social progress usually takes decades. Hopefully in about 30 years I'll be sitting in a theater for the big budget remake of Pulp Fiction and see a preview of a movie like Brokeback Mountain and the only physical reaction I see from the audience them getting pissed off that they have to sit through 45 minutes of previews for the damn movie to start.

Preemptive Strike
SUV drivers who are amazed that their vehicles did not handle well in the first ice storm of the season. No matter how high a vehicle is centered or what sort of 'drive' it has - hitting an ice patch at 40 miles an hour and braking is still hitting an ice patch at 40 miles an hour and braking. Sucks for you that you bought a car that you saw scale a small mountain in the TV commercials, but it somehow can't crawl its way out of a ditch.


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