My Dear Friends ~
I keep reading how people are tired of masks, tired of being careful in their dining and entertainment venues, tired of canceling out of events and family gatherings and just plain exhausted holding on so tight that one’s blood ceases to circulate. Am I the only one who has noticed the effect this is having on my nightly television watching?
As Covid took over our lives, we were forced to isolate ourselves. Artists the world over were shocked into paralysis and silence. The painters, sculptors, composers, and some writers woke up first. They don’t need collaborators. Patrons, yes! Collaborators, no! The gifts of the playwright, the actor, the singer, the dancer, producers, directors, the life blood of entertainment as we know it, cannot create in an isolated vacuum. Theatre, television, movies are collective art forms; the artists involved in these venues need each other to take the disparate parts of whatever form they are involved in to make them whole. How to do that while everyone is locked away in their solo safety zones? Those who were married or partnered or sharing living spaces with other artists lucked out.
Something had to give. After adjusting to the new reality, slowly, collaborative artists brought their formidable gifts to the most available medium, television. And out of the ashes a Phoenix rose. After adjusting to the reality of being home bound the phrase that most haunted them, “use it or lose it”, shook them awake. Like any muscle, the creative muscle will atrophy if you don’t use it. And performing artists discovered ways to flex their muscles. It’s a fact; creative people need to create. As Covid progressed and spread through Greek alphabet variants, artists used what they could to create some pretty wonderful programing. From the Metropolitan Opera soloists singing in their living rooms to American ABT and NYC Ballet along with ballroom and other dancers found places and spaces to create while they isolate. Television was really the easiest creative outlet for our isolated population. Face it my friends, we were literally and figuratively a captive audience.
There was, of course, the usual la crappe’. I shall not burden you with my taste in what I consider la crappe’. I remember all too vividly friends and family who wouldn’t miss The Apprentice, creating the ground swell that brought a certain person to National recognition. I’m not the kind of person that judges another person’s sin. Don’t bet on it. I was the kind of hungry captive craving the food and drink of entertainment not only as a distraction but as a necessary vehicle for thoughts, ideas, opinions, past and present situations encompassing subject matters that kept my brain ball alive and challenged.
During this recent drought, the networks and most particularly streaming channels opened their doors to quality producers and directors begging for projects to fill their empty schedules. We were witness to a wonderful creative surge. I know the beginning of Schitt’s Creek happened before the pandemic but its popularity took flight after. The streaming channels gave us newly released movies, concerts, foreign programming.
We connected with each other after viewing to compare our thoughts, ideas, and feelings with what we were watching. And it was only getting better: Ted Lasso, Julia, Ricky Gervais, PBS documentaries. Let us not forget the many creative people who produced videos sharing their own pandemic realities.
What were your favorites?
I think it’s Netflix who actually has a subtitle of selections entitled Binge Worthy. Binging and pandemic are synonymous.
I am now finding it more and more difficult to find programming that challenges and stimulates. My dinner hour is spent surfing channels looking for something to watch as my dinner gets cold. I am waiting for my television set to blow up. I can’t tell you how many shows I start and then 10 to 20 minutes later I am forced to surf for something else. I find myself spending whatever time I have allocated to watch going from one unfinished movie or show to another. Like I said, my television is going to explode from the discarded mediocre fare I refuse to watch.
All right already, I am a snob. However, I shall not abuse my aging eyes and earballs. I know so little of the world and other peoples. I used to know more, but that was when I traveled. As I do that “thing” nobody wants to talk about (aging… sshhh) television has become my means of exploration and discovery. It is the miracle that allowed us to view the landing on the moon.
I don’t know. Could we have imagined it without seeing it? I think some of us actually could. But I think most of us were really grateful for those moments that brought history into our living rooms.
Here’s the truth of it for me. I hate being dumbed down to. And for a while as the pandemic was frightening and isolating, I found it was also a stimulant for more authentic, interesting and challenging material.
Does this mean creation is born only out of fear and chaos?
I seem to recall a book about creation coming out of chaos. Something about taking a week to create a new world with lots of animals and a man and a woman? Anyone remember the writer????
In the real world I live in, I recently watched the HBO new 6 part series, The Last Movie Stars, about Paul Newman and Joann Woodward. In the height of the pandemic, the Newman/Woodward children asked Ethan Hawke if he would write and produce a documentary of their parents’ story. He assembled a group of gifted talent to help tell their story. As Hawke put it together, it is so much more than Newman and Woodward. However, without them, there is no story.
And all of this and other excellent material was created during the fearful and isolating pandemic. Proving what? I am not sure.
What I do know is that it is very difficult today as I attempt to return to life as I once knew it, which to my thinking is never going to happen… get over it S.J.. During the heat of the crisis there was so much more to choose from. Now I have to allow more time to choose my evening’s program before I take my dinner out of the oven. I can’t stand cold food.
Right??? Of course, right!!!
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. I just thought I might remind you of a few videos in the world of the arts that went around during the height of the pandemic.
Such a continuity of originality, spirit, and talent connecting each of us to the other… ain’t it amazing. It absolutely freaks me out. So tell me, please, What happened? Like separating the yolks from the whites of eggs, how did our isolation separate us enough to stop caring?
Come on guys, don’t tell me we have to be in dire trouble to come together. Not that we all have to agree. Never that.