Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

Tuesday night is movie night.

Filed under: random — alison @ 08:49

We saw “Why We Fight.”

After the credits, hot tears. I sat in my seat, a hand pressed into my face, until the guy who comes to clean up the spilled popcorn turned on the lights and came in. He saw me and came to check on me. “Are you ok?” I just saw a very sad movie. “It’s just a movie!” No, that’s the problem, it’s a documentary! (Wan smile.) “Oh, but even documentaries only show partial truths.” It’s okay, I said, and waved him away. Urgently.

I didn’t say, Even partial truths can be something to be sad about. I didn’t say, Loss of idealism is something to be sad about. I didn’t say, You’re too young yet to have lost yours, you’ll understand when you’re older.

Mark took me home and put me to bed. We didn’t say much.

I don’t watch television news. I have waged losing wars – rather, burbled ineffectual protests – against the presence of televisions in my home. They have been imposed on me by everyone who has lived with me except for my very first roommate, a master’s student from Tanzania, who I believe kept a little set in his bedroom. But at the very least I can refuse to watch the news.

I can handle CBC radio news. The headlines and brief explanatory paragraphs of the hourly updates don’t have the time to reach into my soul. The longer discussions of the evening and afternoon shows, no matter how horrifying, at least reassure me that thoughtful people care about these issues and are analysing them complexly. Presumably something is also being done, to the extent possible.

I didn’t see the Twin Towers burning and falling, over and over again, the way it seems everyone else did. (Except for Betsy, who was busy giving birth (to twins) that day.) On September 11 I heard the news, saw bits of streaming video on colleague’s computers and called my mother, shakily, and talked imaginatively for an hour about American foreign policy. That was enough. I didn’t need to sit transfixed in front of a screen while images of falling bodies burned themselves into my brain all day.

Back in November or December 1985 when I was living with my considerate Tanzanian roommate I stopped in to visit a friend when the evening news was on. The topic of the day was the famine in Ethiopia. Turn that thing off! I shrieked. My friend was perplexed. “It’s the news, aren’t you interested in the news?” Why on earth would I be interested in bringing a child into my home to starve to death in front of me while I did nothing, didn’t lift a finger to help? No. I’m not interested.

I’ve watched the local news on television a couple of times since 1985, but I always walk out before they get to the international news. It’s always bad, and I’m always helpless.

[originally transmitted by e-mail March 29, 2006]

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