Assessing Entertainment

So, I feel like this post can apply to all types of media, whether it be music, books, movies, comics, tv shows, etc. This particular example will focus on literature, as it’s the current book I’m reading, which has made me think about this. I’m curious how most people process and assess what they read, see, and hear when it comes to “old” entertainment.

I’m currently reading a book entitled Dark Dance by Tanith Lee. It’s been 30 years since it was published. I was 18 at the time of publication, so it wasn’t published at a time I had no reference to. I didn’t buy it back then. However, probably around 1993/1994, I purchased Tanith Lee’s Personal Darkness. Either after the first page or first chapter (I’ll need to find it and check it out again), there was a character reveal, and it made me think I was supposed to know who that was. I felt like I was reading the continuation of a story. Pre-internet (or, at least, pre-me getting onto the internet), it wasn’t as easy to find information about everything. I can’t remember if I finally discovered that it was indeed part of a series or not, but I never read the book. I was in a used bookstore a few years ago and saw Dark Dance. It looked like the beginnings of a story. Since I never read Tanith Lee, I decided to purchase the book. As it turns out, Dark Dance is the beginning of the Blood Opera trilogy, of which Personal Darkness is the second. Anyway, I’ve finally gotten around to the book. As of this writing, I’m on page 122 of 409.

There are parts of this book, so far, which are making me roll my eyes. I’ve taken a pause and am now trying to remember what things were like in 1992 when the book was written. This was after mid-80s masterpieces like Near Dark, Fright Night, and The Lost Boys. It was after Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were in print but before the film adaptations. It was published the year after my favorite vampire movie, Subspecies, was released, as well as the great, new iteration of Dark Shadows on tv. At the time, I don’t think we were over-saturated with vampires. Should I go easy on the book? When I read something that’s a no-no now because it has been done so many times before, do I pause and think how this wasn’t a no-no back when it was written? It’s not the author’s fault that I’ve finally gotten around to reading the book 30 years later. Or, should that not matter? Like, I was let down when I read Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby because I already knew the story and felt like he telegraphed it in such a way that it wasn’t shocking. Were people shocked when they first read it? Then, I also think of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and how it was still an impactful book, even after seeing the movie countless times. Do you base your views on a book at the time of your reading? Or, do you try to base it on the time of its writing? If it’s really a good book, would it transcend the tropes we don’t care to see anymore? Or, if it’s a really good book, would it not bother us as much when the tropes appear?

That’s another thing about the book so far. I’m on page 122, but I feel like I’ve read about 25 – 30 pages worth of story. I don’t mean it’s so good that I can’t believe I’m that far into the book. I mean there are almost 100 pages of text that probably don’t need to be there. The reader wouldn’t lose anything if those 122 pages were condensed down. I like a slow-burn story as much as anything, but this one is tough to get through. Maybe that’s causing my brain to wander and think about things like the modern tropes in classic books instead of focusing more on the story itself.

I don’t know. I was curious how other people approach their reading, viewing, listening. Do you also have a need to finish what you start? I’ve thought about putting the book down a few times now. Over a quarter of the way through it, I feel like I should keep going. Does it bug you to leave things unfinished?

Current State

I don’t know if I have anything to write, which hasn’t already been said. Maybe this is nothing but another voice in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. What can I say? It’s disgusting how people are treated.

Full disclosure. I am white. I am male. I cannot be empathetic with how a person of color feels (whether it be brown, black, yellow, red, blue, orange). I cannot be empathetic to how a woman feels when she feels objectified or not given the same chances as men. However, I can try to understand. When I say understand, it is not from personal experience. I get that. It’s like learning something in a textbook. I’m learning based on other people’s experiences. I think we all need to try to understand and be sympathetic.

When the #blacklivesmatter movement started, I will admit my first reaction was “All lives matter.” If we are to get past racism, we need to try to be colorblind and work towards unifying all races. I didn’t understand the meaning of the movement. Like many people today, I instinctively read the movement with the word “only” in front of it. No one has said that. No one is saying we should only be concerned about the lives of blacks, but we should be concerned about them, just as we are concerned about everyone else.

My son is diabetic, and we are heavily involved with an organization called Beyond Type 1. When we ask for donations, we are not saying that diabetic research, education, and community is the only medical cause that matters. Even in the diabetic space, we are not saying people should not donate to JDRF, ADA, etc. When we would do our fundraiser, no one ever walked through the doors and screamed “NO! ALL MEDICAL RESEARCH MATTERS” to us. It’s understood we are focused on this one specific disease and calling attention to it. Not only that, we are focused on one organization in that space because they fulfill what we are looking for. Why is it so difficult to see the same thing about race and the BLM movement? Like asking for a donation to your favorite charity isn’t minimizing all the other charities, Black Lives Matter is not minimizing any other race. It is simply calling attention to a group of people who have been treated unfairly. Like stumping for your favorite charity to help fund research to possibly find a cure and stop needless deaths, the same can be said of BLM – calling out attention to avoid the needless deaths seemingly occurring on a daily basis. The worst part about this is that the people propagating these behaviors continuously seem to be let off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist or are even deemed as heroes.

I read a meme about how, on a daily basis, nurses deal with people who are out of their minds – whether drunk, high, mentally ill, agitated, etc. Somehow, nurses are able to calm these people down without any violence. There may be some kill or be killed situations, but I would think a well-trained police officer should be able to handle most of those situations in a non-lethal way. You know, I’m guessing they do. It’s not exciting journalism to report on a crazy situation being peacefully remedied. I always think back to Lethal Weapon (I think this is accurate – I haven’t seen the film in many years). There shouldn’t be a need to kill a suspect. You should detain them – shoot them in the leg or arm (this may cause them to drop their weapon). How many times is a lethal blow really necessary? I’m not in law enforcement, so I don’t know.

The media doesn’t help things either. Can you really believe anything you read? You can read separate accounts of the same event to match up with whatever your belief system is. Everyone has an agenda. Is there any true non-biased reporting anymore? I don’t know. It’s tough to read anything with the confidence of its accuracy.

A part of me wants to unplug. I watch my kids & their friends and think they may change the world (all parents probably think this). I was talking to my 11-year-old today, and he was saying how he can’t believe we are in 2020 and racism is still a thing. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is his hero, and he truly believed Dr. King helped end racism. The kids in our area appear to be colorblind. At least, they are much more so than what I remember growing up. I think it’s going to be a tough road to get there, but I really do hope these kids can get things on the right track. As their mentors, we need to lead them there.

I’m not re-reading this one. It came out, and it says what was on my mind. Basically, yes, ALL LIVES DO MATTER. Right now, there is a focus on Black Lives Matter because we (and when I say we, I am speaking about my fellow whites) are acting like they don’t. We can’t respond with fear WE will be discriminated against the same way WE have discriminated against others. We all need to work together to make sure everyone is treated justly and fairly. Currently, we have a specific race at the forefront of being treated unfairly, and it is needs to addressed.