Loz (lozenger8) wrote,

When is a cigar just a cigar?..

I had a really interesting discussion with my mother last week about entertainment and analysis and why the hell can't I just enjoy something, what's the point of deconstruction, and hey, aren't I reading too much into it?

My mum's scarily intelligent, and critically aware. And when I ask her her opinion on a TV show, or a movie, her answer is either, "I liked it", or "I didn't like it." And unless I ask her very specific questions, she cannot tell me why or why not. She doesn't exactly like me much when I ask her these questions, either (although thankfully, I never hear the reasons.) I think she's grudgingly learning to accept that I am the way I am. Maybe one day I'll accept her for who she is too, but in the meantime, I quiz and glean information.

Now, I've done a degree in this kind of stuff, admittedly. I've been trained to care about filming convention and narrative convention as it pertains to the small and silver screens, but obviously, I did that degree because I was already interested in these things. From a young age, I have never been an "I liked it" person. I have always been, "I liked this, this and oh, this, and this was great. And this! But I thought it could have been better there, and maybe included a little that..." If I dislike something, I can give you twenty reasons that I consider good. They can range from content to delivery and I will go on for hours. If not, uh, years.

I'll be the first to admit that perhaps I sometimes take criticism too far. That maybe, occasionally, I do 'read too much into it'. There was a while there I found it hard to enjoy anything fictional because I'd spend too much time tearing it into its component parts and trying to see how they fit and if, in fact, they did. I'd get annoyed with small flaws and judge the whole against one or two aspects I disliked. I couldn't turn it off. It frustrated me. And was made all the worse by me being keenly aware I was unable to produce the kinds of stories I wanted to engage with (I still am, but that's a rant for another day.) I got over that, mostly due to sheer boredom. I try to concentrate on the things I do like, that I think are done well (these aren't necessarily mutually inclusive.)

Our discussion went on into critical analysis as pertains to gender, race, power and socio-economic issues in television and I was making the case that this criticism, this critical evaluation, is important in unearthing the inherent tropes found in popular fiction. Clichés that we're so used to we don't interrogate them. I was saying that if no ever does examine these issues in entertainment, we're just perpetuating the same (often inaccurate and occasionally covertly derogatory) stereotypes and ideas. I was saying that entertainment is not only a reflection of idealogy and understanding, but an influence. And we needed to look at these things, question them, in order to turn things around.

I thought I'd done a good job of explaining why I get into obsessive nitpicky detail about many of the things I watch. At the end of the conversation, mum said something to the effect of, "well, that's good for you, but I prefer to just sit and enjoy." I said, "that's fine, there will be ten others who'll do it [the analysis] for you" to which she said, "I still wish they wouldn't."

I was heartbroken.

[ETA: Not really. My mother was joking. And this post is largely me joking too. Clearly the internet doesn't translate tone as well as I would like it to without dastardly emoticons.]

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