Monday, May 8, 2017

"I Have Always Been Squeamish"

As opposed to Squamish, which is an Indian tribe living in Southwestern British Columbia. 

I have never been Squamish.

“Squeamish” I have been, probably since “Day One.”

“Birth!  Waaa!  Take it away!”

(It turns out nobody likes a whiner about having been born.  My first recollection was the kids in the “Baby Room” organizing a lynch mob.)

The preceding is my meandering way of saying, “It’s not them; it’s me.”  (And by “them” I mean the forthcoming entertainment I shall shortly be talking about.)  Although, for broader identificational purposes, I hope, as usual, that it’s not only me.

I can’t seem to help myself.  I have an exceedingly low threshold for “squeam.”

Which, not coincidentally I believe, rhymes with “scream.”

Unless it’s the unformed mispronunciation of a tremulous youngster who, after seeing a scary movie and their parents later ask them, “How was it?” replies,

“I squeamed.”

That would have been me at The House of Wax (1953), if I had actually gone inside the theater instead of remaining insistently in the lobby.  (I had pestered my older brother to “take me with” to the movie and when we got there I refused to go in.)

Nothing has changed in that regard.  Except that, over time, my engramic “Groove of Squeamishness” has detectably deepened.

I appear to be more squeamish than ever.

And not just about new stuff, where, over the years, the inexorable “one-upment” of cinematic gore and mayhem has challenged the “even less squeamish than I am.”  I can’t go near that stuff. 

But even the old stuff, like when they rerun Hondo (1953, which was apparently a tough year for me at the moviess) on The Westerns Channel, I know the scene where the Indians kill the dog is coming up and, though I consolingly remind myself, “They don’t actually kill the dog; it’s only a movie”, I get heart thumpingly “close to the precipice”…

… and I change the channel before the Indians kill the dog.

Or the heartbroken farm boy shoots the hopelessly sick horse.

Or they find the Frank family hiding in the attic.

Or they conquer the Alamo.

Judgments aside – if that’s possible and it probably isn’t – I cannot metabolize upsetting material.

And now, it seems to me…

It’s everywhere.

And by “everywhere” I specifically bemoan those places I habitually frequented to successfully escape it.  That being,

Carefully selected “harmless entertainment.”

(Which is probably why I was attracted to comedy.  For you therapists scoring at home.)

More and more, this genre of “harmless entertainment” – and there has been wonderful “harmless entertainment”; See: The Court Jester – which I could once turn to for solace has become harder and harder to locate.

I heard a line, I think from a promo for an upcoming movie:

“No one is a civilian.”

To the “Chronically Squeamish”, this is a “Troubling Indicator”, a restaurant menu announcing, “Everything here is spicy.”

How does that ominous “Promo Line” suggest that the moviegoing options for the impressionable likes of myself have almost entirely disappeared?

Well, used to be – and it marginally got me through such movies – the majority of people that were gunned down in them got justifiably what they deserved.  Thankfully, that scenario had nothing to do with me; although hardly perfect, I do not need to be gunned down.  So as far as identifying with those victims was concerned, I remained very comfortably in the clear.

Now, however, in a time when “Nobody is a civilian”, every movie they make,

I’m the frickin’ target!   (You too, of course, but that’s your problem.)

Think about that.  The villains in contemporary movies – The Russians.  Islamic terrorists.  The North Koreans.  The Chinese.  None of us is immune to their simulated murderous attacks because… all together now…

“Nobody is a civilian.”

Tell me, 

How exactly is that supposed to be entertaining?

So I skip those movies – meaning I miss a high percentage of movies, including some otherwise commendable ones – and I stick assiduously to TV. 

TV- at least commercial TV – is historically “Home Free” (as in “Hide-and-Go-Seek”), a salvaging sanctuary from anxiety and dread.

Or so I believed.

All I had to do, I thought, was to confine myself to shows like Law & Order, in which, before the “Fade In”, the heinous terribleness has already been committed.  (They find the bodies before the “Opening Titles”.)  

Unfortunately, since such shows traditionally attract an older viewership, they also attract sponsors targeting that older viewership’s needs, apparently first and foremost of which are “miracle” medicines (if you can handle their “side effects”) and professional care.

Okay, so yesterday evening, I turn on Law & Order during a commercial, and there’s an accredited doctor proclaiming,

“I want you to feel comfortable saying the words ‘colorectal cancer’.”

Ladies and gentlemen,

I now officially have no place to hide.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

You may want to avoid last week's tense, dramatic, and awesome finale of SUPERSTORE.


YEKIMI said...

Wow. And here I thought "Squamish" was a game invented by Mad Magazine writer Tom Koch back in the 60s. I didn't know it was an Indian tribe in B.C.! [Maybe they took their name from the game.]

frank paradise said...

As a kid remember being held up with parents on the road to Squamish as they were filming a scene for 'The Littlest Hobo'. Later scored a photo head shot with paw ink stamped London autograph in a Vancouver mall. Wish Netflix would bring back The Littlest Hobo for more X-File squeamish Squamish scenes.