May 31, 2012
On Tormenting Myself for no Apparent Reason
Some time ago I was channel-flicking out of sheer boredom when I stumbled upon something that surprised me. Instinctively, I put down the television remote and stood for some time, slightly mesmerized that what I was now watching was even on at all. And I didn’t watch it haphazardly; rather, I stood there, eyes glued on the action that was unfolding. There in front of me was a high school basketball game played by a teenager who just happens to also be a werewolf, and there were the adoring spectators going absolutely crazy every time this genetically-cursed young man scored a basket. I continued watching though – I watched the werewolf be seduced by the most popular girl in school, and I continued watching as his teammates became increasingly frustrated as the wolf became a ball hog. In fact, my eyes were still fixated on the screen when the young man comes to his senses and leads his teammates to victory in the championship game. Of course, he does this without changing into his more athletically-gifted, wilder half, and all the while, his actions are accompanied by one of those quintessential 80’s movie theme songs. You know, one of those tunes that flawlessly matches the events taking place on the silver screen. (The singer belts out “I’m gonna win in the end” as the underdogs are trying to make a comeback. How perfect is that?)
Here’s what puzzles me about my actions: I hate this movie. I hated it when it came out in 1985, and I’ve never had any interest in seeing it again. Yet there I was: watching it. What was going on? Perhaps I was subconsciously testing myself to see how long I could endure the torture of seeing one of the most classic combinations of horrible acting, terrible make-up, awful writing, and ridiculous resolutions. Maybe I was seeing how much time would elapse until the reflex to flee kicked in and prevented all of my intelligence and good taste from completely being sapped from me.
I wish this were an isolated case. Unfortunately, I find myself watching embarrassingly bad movies just to see scenes that I can’t stand or hear dialogue that I know my eyes roll at. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve observed Vin Diesel hopping and rolling around while doing the Peter Panda dance. And for some reason my hands go numb whenever I come across Michael Bay’s truly awful film Armageddon. Whenever I come across it, I can’t help wondering if I’ll be able to see Ben Affleck play with animal crackers on Liv Tyler’s stomach. I’ve watched a half an hour of Bruce Willis’s underwhelming film The Last Boy Scout just to hear Bruce Willis tell Damon Wayans about Satan Clause and being prepared, and I can’t seem to turn the channel until I hear Gloria Stuart’s Rose utter the ill-advised phrase, “Did we do it?” in James Cameron’s Titanic, a film that I’ve never liked. Here’s another one: Every time I come across Star Trek V, I can’t leave until I’ve either heard Kirk, Spock, and McCoy painfully sing a round of “Row Your Boat” or watched the three of them do a sigh-inducing double-take as they translate a tapping sound into the phrase stand back. If it’s late in the film, I don’t seem to be able to leave until I’ve heard the line, “Why does God need a starship?”
I can’t explain this odd behavior pattern of mine, and it’s slightly embarrassing. I mean, I’ve seen Optimus Prime say that his group of refuge robots learned how to speak English by plugging into the World Wide Web more times than I’ve watched the Man in Sunrise realize that he can’t live without his wife, and that’s my favorite film. What’s going on? Does anyone else have this condition?
As always, I welcome your thought on the matter. I’d even welcome the number of a good shrink if you’ve got it.