Just My Imagination

Why do we women make up imaginary expectations with imaginary deadlines for ourselves and then feel guilty about not reaching the pretend finish line? This week, I had an idea for a post for my (totally made up by me) blog. I was going to finally watch those Halloween movies friends have recommended that I’ve avoided all these years – two scary movies and two fun movies. The problem was that the first scary movie I watched took me four days to finally finish. So last night, I started stressing out about finishing the other three (totally unnecessary) movies for my (totally imaginary) deadline.

I tried a scary movie and gave up before the end of the opening credits. I googled other possible scary movies, saw my screen filled with cringe-inducing images, and I just couldn’t do it. And then I felt guilty. Guilty! Here I was trying to talk myself into watching stuff that creeps me out just for a pretend deadline? So stupid.

Then I tried watching Hocus Pocus because everyone loves it and tells me I should love it too. I didn’t. I made it through twelve painful minutes and had to stop when I realized they actually talk like that through the whole movie and there was no way I could listen to them talk like that through the whole movie. Then I felt guilty again over a totally made up expectation I had created for myself. I recognize that I’m doing it and I recognize that it’s not rational, but I still do it.

So here I am, beating myself over the fact that I’m reporting on only one measly movie, but to be fair, it really was hard work. I watched the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Even after having to turn it off several times out of boredom or annoyance or just falling asleep, I stuck with it to the very last shriek. That’s something, right?

For those who haven’t seen Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it’s the story of aliens taking over the world through botany, and the tireless health inspectors who try to stop them. It’s a pretty weird movie, and not just because the cast includes Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy.

Strange editing choices and camera angles sometimes add to the suspense, but often are just choppy and weird. The soundtrack is especially creepy, with the high strings matching/imitating the sound of the aliens’ shrieks, and there was one especially cool shot in the chase scene with shadows growing and shrinking as people walked past a building. I also appreciated the relative lack of gore – I only had to look away twice.

The fact that it was set in San Francisco in the ‘70s made me wonder if it was trying to make a statement about drug culture. The blank, not-really-there stares of the cloned bodies, free of pain and emotion, sometimes just seemed like they were stoned. No wonder the characters often couldn’t tell the difference between real and switched people.

During this election season where so many are confusing wild conspiracy theories with fact, I was uncomfortable watching a movie that seems to reinforce the idea that the government is out to get you, that no one can be trusted, and that everything around you is not as it seems. It seems too close to all of the fictional paranoia being tossed around haphazardly lately with no sense of responsibility to fact or truth. Unlike my imaginary expectations I create that only affect myself, the lies being tossed around lately camouflaged as fact are much scarier to me. That might be the real reason I kept having to take a break from the movie. It hit a little too close to home. I just want the world to be recognizable to me again.



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