Editor's Letter: May 2018
The summer movie spell is beginning to unfold—a time for big, bombastic stories that will break the bank, ones that we’ll assuredly buy into, just because it’s 'blockbuster' season. We don’t think twice about overpaying for this sub-par, air-conditioned entertainment; mindless mash-ups of concepts, plot points and stars we’ve inevitably seen many times before—if for no better reason than it’s just ‘what we do’ this time of year.
And like every time before, they’re certain to be tales easily summed up in their trailers, yet we crave the full experience. Desperate to be in on all of the action, not just the highlights. Uttering ‘I haven’t seen it yet’ feels sacrilege as we crack open a cold one and celebrate the small slice of year where it feels OK for life to be as lazy as the on-screen action we’ll voraciously consume. We’re not expecting award-winning achievements, so we cut them slack; we pay the ticket, take the ride.
In our real, day-to-day lives, however, it’s fascinating how the antithesis is true. Digital culture has undeniably advanced us, but at the cost of turning our lives into our own cherry-picked trailers through the lens of social media. Excerpts we happily consume, for free, bite-by-bite instead of having to stomach an entire story. We’re not at all interested in the mise-en-scène—the dialogue, mood, and character development are completely inconsequential. Just a taste— devouring the dalliances but please, no details.
Knowing this, we select and curate our own stories carefully. Choosing the teaser that make the footnotes of our existence most intriguing; the one that will sell the most seats and bring us the biggest fanfare. We have the principal authority to adapt our own account, yet so easily overlook the power that comes from the privilege of self-selecting the narrative. We’re negating the nuances that make us most fascinating for the same reason that summer movies usually suck—because we just thoughtlessly accept it to be that way.
How quickly we’ll cash into below status-quo entertainment but have no interest in investing in the full picture of our friends, families, neighbors and communities. We choose not to take on the responsibility of asking tough questions because that has consequence. We’d rather not pull the curtain back and have to put it all into context. We know the crux is on the cutting room floor—but when it comes to our own lives we just don’t seem to care much for veracity.
Alas, it does seem easier to tell half-truths, to cut the scene so it looks just how we’d like. It’s exhausting to not know the ending—will we slay the beast, tie it all up in fancy bow? It’s undetermined. So we just keep haphazardly syphoning the script, hoping that people like what they see. We fail to recognize that we’re caricatures of our own making— creations of artificial verisimilitudes for a jaded, dejected world. Authenticity is terrifying so we inexorably crave escape; the salve that monotonous summer blockbusters provide.
Going forward, I’m going to strive to make more meaning by doing the work. To shun the shortcuts that dilute my own story and discover what realness lies behind the headlines of others. I want to look beyond the face of our facades, to weave a grander theme together. It’s time to be unabridged, to seek out thoughtful answers and then sit quietly and unpack the significance behind them. With so much sham out there, we owe it to each other, and ourselves, to seek a nobler, more cinéma vérité, less sensationalized summer spectacle, kind of truth.