Believe it or not, I have trouble finishing movies by myself.
It’s difficult to force myself to sit through things that are at all emotionally difficult. Left to my own devices, I tend to watch stuff that is low-stakes or cheesy or that I’ve seen before — sometimes all three!
There are plenty of movies I’ve seen a ton of times, as a result of this tendency. I don’t get people who can only watch something once (or read, or hear or play something only once). I mean – it’s okay. I just don’t get it.
I will watch certain movies just to experience the moods inhabit, or to revisit the characters like old friends. Sometimes it’s just to scratch an undefinable itch in my brain. Like when you hear a snippet of a song you love and then you have to go listen to the whole thing.
Sometimes I re-watch a movie chasing whatever head-space it put me in the first time I ever saw it. I have at least one movie I am literally not allowed to watch more than once a year because if I did, I’d watch it constantly chasing the mental space it brings. I usually watch it even less, even though it’s one of my favorites of all time. I want it to retain the maximum possible impact.
Then there are other films I just watch whenever. I can’t even think of a through-line that these movies have other than they don’t jangle my anxiety. Some of them because they aren’t that kind of film, but more of them, I suspect, because I’ve seen them so many times they’ve been de-fanged.
Watching a new movie is something I need to be in the right mood for. It’s easier in the theater when I have no control over when the film starts or stops. It’s one of the reasons I keep on with seeing so many movies in the theater.
It’s easier for me to watch at home if someone else is with me, too. Particularly someone who hasn’t seen the film before. I am fortunate enough to have some friends who trust me when I invite them into unknown fiction, so I get to do this on a pretty regular basis.
And sometimes I can force myself to keep on through something difficult. I watched season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil in 10 minute increments with large pauses to calm down in between. I was also sick enough at the time to feel hazy and somewhat emotionally distant about the grimness and violence.
It’s funny. I know it is. Because I do love movies. And I do love fictions. And some of the ones I love are full of gore and awfulness. I am a huge fan of certain kinds of horror movies. I also love cheesy action and that can be full of violence, too. The thing that gets me is emotional connection to violence. I can’t really watch realistic war movies. I have trouble with torture scenes, particularly ones where someone’s head is being fucked with. On the same spectrum: I can’t watch embarrassment comedy. It really quickly overwhelms any emotional distance I have and makes me profoundly uncomfortable.
All this is apropos of nothing in particular. Just kind of a note to say – however you interact with stories, it’s fine. We’re all weird, somehow. This is just one way that I am. And raking myself over the coals (or being pushed by others) has never even come close to getting me past it.
I decided at some point to give myself a break and roll with it. It’s one of those arenas it’s much easier to change your environment and the way it interacts with you than it is to change yourself to fit the environment.
Life is already hard – don’t make it harder, if you can avoid it. Embrace the weirdness of your brain and find a way to work with it. Your story-times will be happier and so will you.