I went on a date the other day. We can call it a first date though it could also just as easily be known as a last date because I highly doubt I will ever see her again. In fact, I can even imagine a scenario where she would send me a very expletive and CAPS LOCK filled text message if she ever has the misfortune of stumbling across this particular editorial.
The troubles started almost immediately after she revealed that she had both graduated college with a degree in film and completed a Masters in screenwriting. Normally that’s the kind of thing that makes me squeal like a little piggy with a nice dirty trough to play in, but somehow I could sense that something was a little, well, off. She just didn’t seem to strike me as the kind of person who gets so excited after discovering an amazing new film that she wants to tear off all of her clothes and run naked through the streets. (To be honest, I haven’t done exactly that either, but I’m proud to say the potential for acting insane always lies just within reach.)
So, we began talking about movies, and within five seconds the truth, the horrible truth, was revealed. I realized that my date knew essentially nothing about film.
After a stream of “ummm” and “hmmmmm” she was finally able to remember a movie she had recently seen (“Ohh it’s been so long since I’ve seen a movie… I don’t watch many… hehehe”) and could recommend.
She recommended The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
In a fit of shock, I took a wrong bite and began choking on my hamburger. I tried to revisit great memories, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that this girl, this film student, actually went to a theater and paid money to see that piece of shit movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Okay, I know we have all spent money on terrible things, so let’s not throw her under the bus too much for just that. Rather, it’s the issue of the recommendation that is the true problem.
We’re talking about a person who has just completed five years of studying film and has gleefully recommended seeing an absolutely mediocre Hollywood movie. If she had recommended a terrible film because it fell in the category of “So Bad It’s Good,” sure that could be fine. But, no, instead she recommended a film that is completely average in every respect. And I totally understand the fact that I am coming across as a huge pompous indie foreign film watching asshole, but I just cannot comprehend how someone could spend so much time and energy learning about GREAT filmmaking and then somehow feel as if the world needs to know about the erupting volcano of averageness that is Walter Mitty.
Am I wrong here? Is it wrong to expect something more from someone who studied the arts? Majoring in a subject like music or creative writing or film is nice (and the lattermost is exactly what I did), but fairly impractical if you are looking to immediately dive into a career upon graduating. Generally, (and yes I’m aware this is a gross overgeneralization) the people who study the arts do so because they really, truly like what they are doing: they play music in their free time, they craft stories while in the bathroom, they doodle and draw in their textbooks instead of taking notes, etc. These people love their art and want to explore it further in the classroom – regardless of whether or not they will be able to turn their arts degree into a career.
So, yes, I do think it is a bit odd when someone studies film for so long and is both ignorant of the subject and (seemingly) uninterested in learning more. Did she dive into her film studies because she “really connected” with Lindsey Lohan’s character in Mean Girls? Did she fall in love with Hugh Grant due to his stretch of marginally above average rom-coms? Did she realize while watching Leonardo DiCaprio’s suicide scene at the end of Titanic how powerful and emotional a film could be? Who knows!
Maybe I’m blowing it completely out of proportion. Maybe I shouldn’t look too deeply into the fact that she could only talk about Disney animated films and a feel-good Ben Stiller dramedy. Maybe there’s more to her than just that.
But I don’t think so.
Because it’s not just about the films. It’s about art. It’s about expanding your mind. It’s about asking questions and challenging yourself, about pushing to the limits of reason and beyond. It’s about obsessing over something you love, about spending entire days, weeks, months, and years sucked into something you live and breathe and bleed and shit. It’s about knowing something, really knowing something, and, yeah, being a little proud of that fact.
It’s about all of the things I find most captivating in this world: the weird, the disturbed, the unusual, the amazing, the awe-inspiring, and the life changing. It’s everything to me. And it’s clearly nothing to her if she can only recommend the same standard mediocrity that is shoveled into our faces at every turn.
Where is your thirst for the New? Where is your lust for chaos? Where is your addiction to the strange?
Nowhere to be found.
So, we had a couple more hours of increasingly stilted conversation before parting for the night.
I walked back to my car full from dinner and empty from keeping a conversation flowing when I had no interest. I drove home, changed into a pair of sweatpants and a T-shirt, and fiddled around on the computer for an hour. As I sometimes do in the evenings, I spent a few minutes on OkCupid searching for obscure films or bands I like. Generally, the people who list things like Pink Flamingos or 56 Up in their profile are going to have some other odd picks on display. Using this method, I had stumbled upon the YouTube crowdsourcing film Life in a Day a few days earlier.
I grabbed a snack, leaned back in my chair, and turned off the lights. As I watched the film, I fell in love with the thousands of people who had submitted videos of their life to the producers. I wept for the billions upon billions of stories around the world that I would never know, and I dreamed of meeting someone who consumes art with a passion that rivals my own.
More from Dominick at dominickjgrillo.com or holla at him on Twitter @dominickjgrillo