How often do you re-watch things?
As a child, I’d do daily screenings of favourite movies/episodes. It was almost a point of pride. I remember one school holiday period where I watched The Mask 20 times. Mortal Kombat, The Lion King and Street Fighter The Animated Movie all got the same treatment. The first episode of Pokémon I saw (Battle Aboard the St Anne BTW), I watched it 9 times that weekend. I could recount these scripts from beginning to end. Even now I could probably remember Earthworm Jim‘s “Queen Slug For A Butt”s full name (pulsating, bloated, festering, sweaty, malformed, pus-filled? Gah. SO CLOSE. Seriously though, that name did wonders for my childhood vocabulary). I etched it into my memory and the more resonance it had with material that was already in place, the better. I’d created a reward system for my own recollection abilities. Things weren’t any less funny because I knew what the jokes were, the jokes were even funnier because they were mixed with the pride of knowledge. It probably drove my parents crazy to hear endless streams of Jim Carrey films, but I think that dose of manic obsession with the things I loved helped me hone down the things that drove me crazy with joy.
As I aged, this behaviour lessened. I was less concerned with having a picture perfect recollection of something I appreciated. My mum periodically did dinner and a movie together. We alternated film choices and a pattern emerged. I’d usually stick with what I knew, she’d often pick things I wouldn’t have considered. Almost universally she made better calls. I’d still have a few things I re-watched obsessively (High Fidelity, Juno), but these were the outliers. I saw something in my mum’s trend of movie choices. A new thought pattern replaced the old. Excitement sparked at the notion of widening my range of experiences. I began to look outside of the circles I’d come to know and love to untouched pastures. I’m not saying I opened up overnight (still, I do like films that resonate with my already held world-view), but the appeal of seeing a film for even the second time in a year felt wasteful. If I knew where it was going, how could I expect myself to be pulled along for the ride?
Of course there will be outliers. Community instilled in me a type of hysteria I hadn’t known since childhood. Something about the unconventional plotlines, meta commentary and densely layered jokes encouraged a kind of wonderment in me that I hadn’t experienced for some time. Sure, I’d been into things since then. But that kind of obsession? Nigh on forgotten. It also made conscious one of the primary reasons for this repetitive madness: I just wanted to share. Knowing that others enjoyed the stories that I enjoyed reaffirmed my love of them and assured me I wasn’t an idiot for enjoying them. I wasn’t alone and I could bring this appreciation to others. At the zenith of my lunacy (post hiatus season three) I was watching each episode four times in under 24 hours. I’d get home from work on the Friday and watch the episode. When my flatmates arrived home I’d watch it again with them. Then after my girlfriend arrived home around midnight I’d watch again. Once more in the morning, just to make sure it was a good episode. A bad episode affected me on a personal level, because it made me feel like I was throwing my chips in on a losing bet. If the series went south, I was a loser for putting a personal stake in it.
As the years have passed on, I’ve cooled off again. Re-watching seems to be reserved for nostalgic reverie or introducing beloved people to stories I feel will enrich their lives. Even shows I adore, I usually only watch through once, maybe with occasional second glances after the season has ended. Consequently I think I connect less with the media I choose to consume. My viewing isn’t without passion, but it feels like I’ve forgotten how to get lost in fictional worlds. The more I diversify my viewing habits, the less I give my heart to each text. Is this a straight up scarcity model? Now that I can see anything I want whenever I want it has less value? Concurrently time feels like such a finite resource as an adult and the cost of investment has been hiked up.
That being said, I still have yet to watch the entirety of Cops. That’s not a re-watch, so it’s U.S.A.Okay.