Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Modern Love

I've been watching a lot of old videos lately, as a result of trying to re-write my novel about a rock band in the 80's. I miss that time. It seemed that life was less lethal, but then I think that's how everybody views their childhood.
But the videos. I learned everything from MTV back then. I learned how to dress, how to act, how to talk. It was a window onto a world that I wanted to be out in. Instead I was stuck in the basement of a friend, just watching. No MTV at home, so I was rarely there. I've always thought that movies taught me how to write. Star Wars, in particular, and true, I did go straight from that theater to buy a notebook for myself. The first I'd ever bought. But MTV taught me something else. I think in some ways watching the world in two and a half minutes clips made me an observer. It made me an expert at spinning people and places and actions out into whole lives, make them go in the direction I wanted them to go. And I could do it all while lying on the clammy floor in front of the TV. Those videos, "Love is a Battlefield," Let's Dance," "Melt With You," taught me how to spin a story. Make fiction out of just a flash of something.
It was so limited. Now you can watch TV on your TV, your phone and laptop all at the same time. We can control what we see to the second. Now there is no VIDEO. There's no sharpeness to the images. No specialness. People look.... Ordainary now. Effects can be added, but they're effects. We all know those dudes in 300 didn't really look like that. And sticking Brad Pit's face on a baby was just.... It was not really magic. It was a mistake. In the end what we see on screen now is pretty much how the world looks.
In the novel, the main character sees himself on his TV at home, and thinks, "Who is that? Is that really me?" Onscreen he is pristine and sharpe and beautiful. Lying across his bed, watching himself, he is worn and used. He knows that he never looked like that.
No, the world never looked like that. But it does now, in my memory.

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