In Defense Of Shutting Up

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Some housekeeping for those of you who have subscribed and are getting these posts sent to your email inbox—This is something a few people have asked for and I’ve fiddled with off and on for a while, although this FeedBurner solution isn’t ideal. I just wanted an email link or notification of a new post to go out, not an RSS feed of the entire thing, blowing up your inbox with images.

This is mostly because of MailChimp, which I use for a client with no problems but doesn’t seem to want to play nice with my blog. I understand this, or I think I do: there are so many bad actors out there, using every tool, that someone who tosses out potential time-bomb words willy-nilly without worrying about flagging a line of code in a TOS breach probably isn’t going to win.

But I can turn off the feed whenever I want, and I may do that for a while, off and on. I do like to stick with a plan like this, just to see what comes out on the other side of the calendar, but it’s mostly for me. The point isn’t for any one person to read every single post, although I don’t mind that. The point was just about doing something for a period of time, etc.

My apologies, then. Working out some bugs.

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Several people who read this blog emailed me about my comments on The Good Doctor, with pretty much the same reaction all the way around; we were intrigued and hooked. We all seemed to keep it in perspective. As I’ve noted several times in this space, there are over 500 scripted TV shows broadcast or streamed every week. Even if these averaged out to 30 minutes each (and they can’t), it would still be 250 hours’ worth of viewing. There are 168 hours in a week, of course. Math is fun.

So the odds of finding a fellow fan aren’t great, although maybe easier with something as splashy as an old-fashioned network (ABC) hour-long drama with millions dedicated to its success. Gone are the days, even, of Breaking Bad and social media, where the people I knew mostly were fans of the show and people were talking (and spoiling, I should add) online.

Now I mostly read poorly-written recaps by strangers, if I read at all. Not really with something like this. It may be Prestige TV now but it’s not boutique, it doesn’t function as a cultural undertow, sucking us down. It doesn’t stir up something true, or unpleasant, or revealing. It’s too slick for that. It’s just a procedural, a medical show like the other medical shows that have existed in this medium since time began.

But I brought it up with a friend the other day, this show, being on my mind. I didn’t even get to the show; I just mentioned Freddie Highmore, the star actor, whom my friend had mentioned several times in the past as being impressive. It went off the rails almost immediately, as this friend began griping about Highmore getting too famous now that he was on “some horrible show.” Apparently my friend watched five minutes of an episode and declared it dumb, awful, unworthy of decent people.

My friend is kind of a snob about these things, and in the past I might have pushed back, taken the discussion into a fun argument place. Now, either as a result of late-onset maturity or too much exposure to social media, I’m not interested in arguing. Even the implication that my judgment or taste is suspect doesn’t move me a bit. I don’t care, and the whole thing feels absurd. It’s a TV show. I can discern what entertains me and what I appreciate intellectually, creatively, artistically. Sometimes it’s the same thing, sometimes slightly different. I can’t even imagine why I should care.

This is part of what’s happening right now, I think. I didn’t attempt a digital detox for Lent; I doubt those are effective or even practical. I just tried not to engage at all, just to see how that felt. How important is it to me that I send you a heart emoji or add my two cents to whatever silliness you’re promoting?

Yesterday I snuck into Facebook and looked around. A friend made a joke about Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman managing to turn their current scandal into a sitcom. Nothing to see here, a joke.

But another friend, someone from high school, commented that both women were only successful because of their looks. Apparently I have a few pushable buttons hanging around.

I honestly didn’t understand who Aunt Becky was; sorry for my Full House ignorance (I was aware of the show and even saw some of it, but not enough to get the reference). I have no opinion on Loughlin, then.  She seems attractive.

So is Felicity Huffman, although in a less flashy, more Barbara Stanwyck sense. I’ve seen her in a lot of things. She was nominated for an Academy Award, for God’s sake. She’s a great actress, no matter how much her personal ethics seem questionable.

And then just the trope, the stereotype, the boring and dated and cliché and ignorant part of this stupid comment. A woman getting ahead based only on her appearance (and I assume her sexuality)? Never heard that acute observation made before, gosh.

This idiot acquaintance was asking for it, then. I was locked and loaded with some righteous wrath. It would have been warranted.

Well. No. It would have been virtue signaling, actually. This guy made a stupid comment, because he’s kind of stupid, at least in this regard. I’m not going to fix anything, make the world a better place, enlighten the unenlightened. I’m just feeding the urge to tell the world that somebody on the internet is wrong. I resisted. I wrestled with it for a while. Because I was feeling very righteous. But I resisted.

And if that’s what I take away from this Lenten experiment, that I don’t have to share, that I don’t have to comment, that I don’t have to engage with every thought or image or GIF that crosses my screen? I will call it success, and vive la résistance.

Chuck SigarsComment