Greetings from scenic Ohio, where I’m spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s with my partner’s family.
While a yearly trip at this point, it’s not a place I’ve gotten used to. I’m an only child who has never needed to rely on other people to get where I’m going, at least at home in New York. But here in Ohio, we have to cadge rides from her parents, and I have to learn about the fine art of family teasing: Patty has a brother, and there’s a mode to the household humor that I often don’t get and can sometimes rub my desperate need for approval very much the wrong way.
But this is a week each year that I need in its quiet and during which I tend to catch up on random pop culture I might not otherwise seek out. This year, that’s included the second Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes film, a Jeff Dunham comedy performance in an arena (and wow, does that need a post of its own; I have never so felt the truth of New York City as another country so uncomfortably), and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo.
It’s Hugo, of course, that really seems like the best place to wind up this blog for the year, because Hugo is about what this blog is about — the love and loss of stories, the nature of fame, and the tonality of magic. I loved it, desperately, and, towards the end of the film, when a character describes their first experience of cinema as “the kindest magic I’d ever seen,” it seemed like a balm to some of the unpleasantries of this inside/outside life that I, and many of my friends who also write about pop culture, inevitably lead.
Loving media and stories can be unkind. It is an act that does, in fact, often break our hearts: whether from within the narrative or outside of it. There’s a reason that “life ruiner” seems to be one of the most popular Tumblr tags for cute celebrity boys of the moment, no matter how much it’s meant as a joke. We measure, not just our lives in stories, but also our smiles, our bodies, and our hearts. And we measure these things not just against tales we love, but the people who create them; and so what is meant to make us feel more, can so often make us feel less.
At least, that’s what true for me and many of my friends, and none of us are snowflakes that special.
So we’ll see if I find the time to catch up with writing about some of my misadventures out here in a state that Patty insists is on the East Coast and I insist can’t be because it’s not on the coast or producing a piece on the horrors of being a girl and liking stuff that I’ve been promising my friend Rae since the night we met.
In the mean time, if you have any love of the sentimentality I can never seem to avoid when talking about pop culture, do yourself a favor and see Hugo. But be sure to follow it up with the 2000 film, Shadow of the Vampire, which is its own strange tribute to the silent era and really represents us all when the vampire grasps at the light from a projector that displays his long-forgotten the sun.
Because who here hasn’t touched the screen or held hand to heart in response to a story or a movie or a moment or a smile that moves us? We are all, I think, greedy and waiting in the dark, even when the kindest magic is also sometimes made of sorrow.
As ever, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Happy New Year.