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Archive for January, 2012

A Postscript

Two things.  First, my next port of call in making up for lost time, culturally speaking, will be to watch an Alfred Hitchcock film.  Yes, it’s true.  I’ve never seen any of his work. I am very conscious that I’m exposing my vulnerabilities here and am likely to be taken for a knuckle-dragging oik, so be nice.  I blame my early childhood.  I remember my mother watching The Birds while ill in bed and very heavily medicated.  She seems to have suffered some sort of mind-altering trauma as a result.  That, plus I’m a snivelling wussy.  So if anyone would like to suggest a good starting point for a Hitchcock neophyte, fire away.

Second, my Present Husband has pointed out that I have in fact been to Ballyporeen.  I don’t remember it at all and apparently we were only there because we got lost after my poor directions.  Nonetheless, very disloyal of him to point it out.  Fear not, I’ll cook up some fiendish twist to upend him.  Hence my real need for a Hitchcock film.

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I’m not a fan of New Year Resolutions.  There is something arbitrary about the whole process.  And the fact that I am not a size 10 should tell you how effective they are.  Nevertheless, I thought I would start the New Year by resolving to expand my horizons just a little. I’ve decided to explore some experiences that have passed me by.  I speak not of solvency or sanity, since seeking those really would be futile.  Instead, I’m going to concern myself with a few milestones that I seem to have skipped along the way.

 
Let’s not get carried away.  There are lots of experiences I haven’t had that I’m in no rush to embrace.  I’ve never broken a bone.  I haven’t had my tonsils or appendix removed.  In fact, all my original parts are still intact, except of course my marbles.  But, like tonsils and appendixes (appendices??), a person can live a long and happy life without them.  No, that sort of things doesn’t make me an oddity.  Nor does never having been to Minsk or Slough or Ballyporeen.   Or never having been arrested or divorced (although, I’d be prepared to give either a punt if I thought they would bring me a little free time).

 
But missing out on some experiences does seem to mark one out as a sort of socio-cultural deviant.  And so I thought I would begin my project today with one such experience, which was to watch Citizen Kane.  No, seriously, I’d never seen it.  I don’t know how you accumulate decades of adulthood, incorporating four years of college life with some incredibly pretentious bores, without having see this cinematic classic.  But I hadn’t.  Until today.

 
I wish I’d watched it years ago.  It’s a remarkably achievement.  Everything about it is just right – cast, dialogue, lighting, sets, editing.  And so prescient.  It predicted so much of what is insidious and wrong in modern society – venal bankers, gutter journalists, megalomaniac media barons, rampant consumerism, the great heights the mediocre can reach with the media behind them and the erosion of all manner of personal liberties.  Is it possible to see the megalomaniac Kane, manipulating public opinion for his own ends, and not think of Simon Cowell?  Is it possible to look at Xanadu, that empty shrine to the worst excesses of an amoral businessman, and not be reminded of countless zombie estates in Longford?  Is it possible to see Susan Alexander, a mediocre singer with a media machine behind her, and not think of Jedward?  But for all their faults, the characters are possessed of occasional wisdom.  Kane was right about news becoming a twenty-four hour business.  He was also right about the relationship between politicians and journalists and about the pointlessness of jigsaws.  Susan Alexander was right about the compulsive need for love in those who are fundamentally unlovable and also about the awfulness of picnics.

 
Not only do I wish I’d watched it years ago, but that I’d done so before I’d seen any number of later films.   The Godfather, The Truman Show, loads of Simpsons episodes, Pinky and the Brain,  Apocalypse Now and Blazing Saddles, to name but a few.  Yes, you heard me.  I now know where Hedley Lamarr comes from.  (Ooops, that’s Heddy!)  This process I’ve embarked upon strikes me as something like filling in the blanks in my cultural worldview.  Or, if I may extend the Citizen Kane metaphor, completing a jigsaw.  Except, like Kane himself, I think they’re pointless.

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