Along with comfort-food, I have comfort-TV. These are the movies or shows that give me whatever emotional strength I need at that particular moment. Now I have to find something new.
Whenever I wanted brain teaser oh-my-god-people-are-like-this, I re-watched Netflix’s House of Cards. It was the perfect show of political maneuvering.
I found Kevin Spacey’s Francis Underwood too crass compared to Ian Richardson’s Francis Urquhart. Richardson was charismatic; Spacey was simply nasty. I marveled often that Netflix really cast the perfect actor to play Underwood. I hated him, yet I enjoyed watching him crush innocent and not-so-innocent characters. Probably, this was an insight into my own psychic.
I repeat watched this show when I felt the world around me was going nuts. It was an escape to an imaginary world where humans stooped low, yet didn’t get a slap of karma.
Then I found that Spacey is the real-life Underwood. He is manipulative, conniving, mean, liar, grudge holder, egoistic, pervert . . . the list is endless. Since then I can’t get myself to watch the show. It was different when an imaginary character was doing all those things. Now, I feel if I watch the show, somehow, I am giving permission to the Spacey’s pervertness, just so I can enjoy mindless television.
Way before Frank Underwood, I was in love with Beatrix Kiddo. The first time, I watched Kill Bill, I was a grad student at TAMU. I had basic cable, but for few months, due to some glitch, I had extended-basic cable. Those were days before DVR’s and clouds and smartphones. I worked on my school assignments with the TV in the background for company.
Over the years, I have watched both Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2 few times. I always rewind my favorite parts. The way Uma Thurman’s character escapes from the hospital in the ‘Pussy Wagon’. (Every time I cry.) The fight at the ‘House of Blue Leaves’. Escape from the buried coffin. (Every time I clap.) Snatching of Elle’s remaining eyeball. And the ‘five-point palm exploding heart’ technique. (Every time I count.)
I loved the fight at the ‘House of Blue Leaves’ so much that I wanted to buy a yellow track-pant suit like Beatrix Kiddo. I wanted to fight like her. I knew I couldn’t get the yellow motorcycle and helmet. But I tried my best and searched for the similar apparel. Alas, it was physically impossible for me to have such lean body, strength, and technique.
The movie was more than clothes and martial arts. It was that people can change, revenge was possible, and a reminder that never tout your accomplishments. And karma will always come back—be it good or bad.
Mostly, I related to the character of Beatrix Kiddo. I felt that every day, I wear a mask, so I am accepted in the society. Like her escape from the hospital and the grave, I escaped my parents physical and emotional abuse and the Indian society. Like her I want to take revenge; my revenge is living well.
Like many others, I waited for Kill Bill: 3.
Yesterday, I read Thurman’s interview and subsequent discussions. I wasn’t shocked by the Harvey Weinstein stories. Men like him don’t discriminate when they are assaulting women. Off-topic, I don’t believe Meryl Streep didn’t know anything.
I am shocked by Thurman’s report on Quentin Tarantino’s behavior during filming. That he put her life in jeopardy to get the perfect shot. That he spat on her and tried to choke her. Now, when I think of the movie Kill Bill, I think of the human pain behind it. I will not be able to watch that movie again.
Last but not least, my most comfort-movie is The Shawshank Redemption. Recently Netflix added it to streaming.
I don’t remember when I first watched this movie. I know I lived in New Delhi, India with my parents. It was a highly edited version. But it made an impact on me.
Tim Robbins’ Andy Dufresne, a wrongly convicted man, swam to his freedom through miles of shit—actual feces. Of course, I weep every single time I watch the escape. There is nothing better. Dufresne stands in the middle of the pond, his hands raised over his head, rain beating down on his bare chest, and thunder roaring and lighting piecing through the night sky.
My last therapist once told me that I rose through a swampland and emerged as a flower. Need I explain more, why I keep on I re-watching The Shawshank Redemption.
I just pray that in the coming days I don’t find any shenanigans related to The Shawshank Redemption. I am running out of option of comfort-television.