11) Moviegoers Reading The Moviegoer
Rebecca Baker / What One Has to Do with the Other: A Semiotic Reading of The Moviegoer
Elizabeth Duffy, Dorian Speed, & Amy Welborn / Following William Holden on Twitter
Matthew Luter /The (Fictional) Character Projected Upon the Page: The Moviegoer and the Semiotics of the Celebrity Self
I'm looking forward to the presentation without the word "semiotic" in the title.
This is going to be a doozy of trip, starting with riding 13 hours to New Orleans with Betty Duffy. Everyone's staying in the same charming hotel, and with Darwin and Lickona leading the pack, the carousing will be epic.
The only thing left to do is to actually read The Moviegoer.
But I'm on it, friends. My copy arrived today, and so I'm going to live blog The Moviegoer (or at least transcribe my reactions as I go -- I'm taking notes).
So we meet Binx -- I know that's his name because the back of the book told me so, although he's first addressed as Jack. He seems essentially passive. None of his actions, at the beginning, are positive. Everything's a response: his civic duty, his work, his movie watching. He's so lacking in drive that he can't be bothered to take his car places. At least at the movies, passivity is the proper response.
Drama: choices and change
One can read The Moviegoer in terms of cinema, but I'm remembering taking Acting class in college. Drama, we learned, springs from change, and Binx isn't there yet. Even staring at his pile of stuff, he's still analyzing, and the drama is still waiting for the inciting incident.
When there's drama between two people who know each other well, the confrontation usually takes two forms: either "You always do that" or "You've never done that before." Binx is definitely in a "you always do that" phase at the beginning.
His reaction to watching movies reminded me of a phenomenon I've pondered lately: the decline of creativity in the age of YouTube. Time was, when my siblings and I would get together, we would go into creative overdrive: singing, playing games, throwing together skits, being involved. Now it seems like we huddle over the computer and watch YouTube videos. There's creativity there, but it's not ours. We're passive.
Watching a movie takes a certain pre-determined investment of time, but YouTube videos are pernicious because they're short. It feels like there's no time commitment because look, this one's only two minutes long! Then you stretch out your cramped legs and compressed spine and realize that everyone's been crouched in front of the screen for two hours.
Holden as peculiarly real
The thing is, it's not enough just to be near William Holden, because everyone on the street is near him. It's not enough to be spoken to by him. He has to approve you. And the approval is key not just because you yourself think he's great, but because everyone else acknowledges his greatness. Which is why the boy can't be perked up simply by the affection of his new wife. She's fine, of course, but no one else cares. But everyone cares about William Holden,
I think Binx is being disingenuous. I bet he wouldn't mind if William Holden spoke to him as well.