Casablanca and What It Says about my Entertainment Tastes

Note: Very slight Hunger Games spoilers below. You are warned.
Other Note: This was supposed to post yesterday but…long story. Basically I got my dates confused.

Jennifer and I went to see Casablanca in the theaters yesterday. We saw it advertised when we were seeing Lockout last weekend. Jennifer expressed interest in seeing it and I told he that if she couldn’t find someone else to go, I would gladly accompany her, but it wasn’t my first choice of entertainment.

We went, and it was great to see Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart on the big screen. Casablanca is a good movie, which I have seen before, but it’s not my top choice for movie watching. None of those types of movies are. I’d rather watch Super Troopers1 than Casablanca.

I told a friend about this and we got to talking about choices for entertainment. My choice can generally be summed up as “escapism”. I read, watch TV, and go to movies to have fun, not to worry about grand geopolitical ideologies or deep thinking. When I want those topics, I head for the news stand or CNN. I want a popcorn muncher of a movie, or a TV show where I can laugh with the characters, or at least be entertained by the machinations of the drama. I need a story arc, even if it’s contained solely within an episode, or a single movie. Conflict has it’s place, but when it’s the be-all and end-all, it tends to drag.2

Let’s talk about recent movies, books and TV shows3 that I like so you can get a feel for my tastes:

Like Don’t Like
Warehouse 13 House
Downton Abbey Eureka
One for The Money The Holiday
Mirror Mirror Harry Potter Deathly II
Super 8 Lord of the Rings (movie)
Lord of the Rings (book) Hunger Games Books II & III
Doctor Who A Crying Game
Ed TV The Day the Earth Stood Still
Roxanne Fargo
Castle Wizard of Oz
Once Upon a Time4 Heroes
David Weber’s Honor Harrington Series David Weber’s Safehold Series5

This list should probably clue you in about what I like to see or read. It’s not all inclusive of course, and the number of “buts” and exceptions that I might throw in are enormous6. In retrospect I probably should have included a “meh” column, but that’s too much work.

Another illustrative list is comprised of movies7, TV shows, and books that I will not see or read because I just don’t care to, no matter how “quality” or “classic” they are:

  • Ulysses (I can’t believe anyone reads this voluntarily)
  • Atlas Shrugged, Les Miserables, War and Peace and all other EFT8 books out there that are more about philosophy than story.
  • Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Moby Dick, The Jungle, other “classics” that are typically high school literature books
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is an exception to the “never seen it” rule. I’ve seen it, it was awesome, but I never want to watch it again.
  • The Battleship Potempkin
  • Bladerunner (see 2001 above)
  • Schindler’s List
  • Diary of Anne Frank
  • 1984 (movie or book)
  • Anything authored by Salman Rushdie
  • Lolita
  • LOST
  • Grey’s Anatomy
  • The Office (either version)
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes9

I read or watch for fun. I don’t like to have to wrestle with soul-tearing conflict while I’m immersed in a fictional world. I remember distinctly when I started (and never finished) reading Atlas Shrugged and just couldn’t get past the fatalistic depressive mood that was set in the first few chapters. Likewise, the second and third books of The Hunger Games. They start depressing and end depressing, so my opinion is “what the hell’s the point?” If I want depressing, well the war news or the election coverage isn’t too far away.

At the end of the day, I want to watch or read something that I’d want to watch or read again, not just to say that I did. I’ll leave that for the connoisseurs or the professional critics.

  1. Well, maybe not Super Troopers, but definitely Ed TV []
  2. The TV show House is something I’ll specifically call out here. I don’t understand why people like that show. It’s conflict for conflict’s sake. I don’t care for it. []
  3. Recent also being defined as “recently released to Netflix streaming.” []
  4. Although this is coming very close to a “not like” in my book []
  5. My relationship with David Weber’s books is complicated and difficult to break down. I thought about not including this, but it might give me something to point to in a later posting. []
  6. For example, the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series: I love it. This defies my “popcorn” requirement stated above. []
  7. As a part of the research for this posting I went to 101 102 Movies You Must See Before… by Roger Ebert, figuring that he’s an authoritative source on movies. []
  8. Enormous Fucking Tome. []
  9. Although this is a favorite book of a good friend of mine, so I might crash through it someday []
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