Monday, November 15, 2010

Streaming video is a dubious luxury

The phone rings. It’s Madeline. She’s left her white t-shirt and bobby socks in the dryer. The same white t-shirt and bobby socks that I washed for her at eleven o’clock last night, when she informed me, in a panic, that she needed them for the dress rehearsal of her high school musical today.

She wants me to deliver them to the school for her. It’s only a dress rehearsal, for christ’s sake – what would she do if I wasn’t home? But I am home, and so I drive the clothes over to her school, rehearsing a response to her inevitable dismay when she finds out that they’re still damp – “Well, if you’d gotten them out of the dryer this morning, they’d have dried in your locker.”  I’m annoyed to be interrupted in the middle of the afternoon, when I was busy watching The Human Centipede on Netflix.

She meets me outside, and thanks me profusely. “It’s alright,” I say. “I wasn’t doing anything important.” I go home and watch the rest of the movie.

It’s morbid curiosity that makes me do it. Three people joined, mouth to anus, by a mad doctor – who would make a movie like this? By the time it’s over, I don’t care. It’s an awful movie, and not in a good way. Its badness is utterly banal. There are inept attempts at escape, lots of over-the-top mugging by the mad doctor, and interminable periods of keening and weeping by the captives, all interspersed with long, ponderous shots of the boring interior decor. It’s not shocking. It's not suspenseful. It's not even interestingly gross. Three people joined by their digestive tracks – so what? The only thing I find disturbing about the film is that some viewers might get an erotic charge out of it. I feel embarrassed for the actors. Who would appear in such a movie?

But I can’t unsee it, so I get busy convincing myself that it’s a clever critique of capitalism, a wry metaphor for trickle-down economics, surely unappreciated by unsophisticated audiences. It ought to have screened at Cannes.

The absurdity of this is comforting.

I’m looking forward to the high school production of Bye Bye Birdie later this week.