Life’s a Big Hot Mess: A Tone-Deaf Explanation for Why I Couldn’t Focus on ‘Targets’

Life’s a Big Hot Mess: A Tone-Deaf Explanation for Why I Couldn’t Focus on ‘Targets’

Day 6

Is it time for this column-type-diary-thing to get petulant yet? There is an element of reading the room that I try to do each day before I write, while simultaneously trying to not enter the room whatsoever. I have no idea how people are feeling right now, really. I imagine most people are feeling similar to how I am each day, a potent emotional cocktail of despair, optimism, pessimism, realism, unease, and frustration. I dunno, maybe ya’ll are out there killing the game.

Nobody probably wants to hear me whine about the privileged things that I am missing, but also, I’m using this as a personal forum to excise feelings. Again, this has been, and I hope it will continue to be, therapeutic for myself in some capacity. Is it poor decorum to claim that I really miss movie theatres? Honestly, without a doubt. But good heavens do I miss movie theatres.

I am not that oblivious to think such sentiments are not tone-deaf. I am at least aware that I am, relatively speaking, in a comparatively well-off position to outlast this damn pandemic. As a graduating student, there was already a hell of a lot of economic uncertainty in my future. This just means that I won’t get a chance to start said job hunt until sometime in the summer. I have no major immunodeficiencies to speak of, and thus, I could probably deal with the virus much better than those who must stay extra vigilant. I’ve got a roof over my head, and I can turn on the heat to make this weird one-day cold spell more comfortable.

The real struggle for myself is with depression, anxiety, and general creeping suicidal ideation that have always been there, but I’m trying extra hard not to get hit by this week and in the future. I’m at the mercy of routines that I’ve developed, the twenty minutes I try to go for a walk every morning, and just regular text messages with my partner, who is, on the other side of the country.

So yeah, it is probably more than a little-tone deaf to admit that I miss movie theatres at a time where there are probably more pressing concerns for many. I’m also reconciling with the fact that just being able to take the train into the city to see First Cow on a whim is something that gave my life meaning. It’s probably what I would’ve done on this nippy March morning. Instead, I’m writing about Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, and trying to mask the fact that I struggled to pay attention to it. Hell, part of me worries each day that talking about a film is more than a little tone-deaf.

I also doubt that I’m alone in my longing for the things that previously gave my life meaning. My partner has been consistently informing me that she is craving tater tots. I try to shut down this conversation when it arises, because I personally do not wish to be also craving tater tots at this time. This is just one example. I am certain that there is something completely trivial most people who have the ability and desire to read this are missing, that isn’t simply their colleagues and close friends. I will try not to judge you for yours, even if you are judging me for mine.

The climactic scene of Targets takes place at a drive-in theatre. It stars Tim O’Kelly as a gun enthusiast who goes on a killing spree. He hardly ever misses, and thus, kills a lot of people. It reminds me of the fact that, in the midst of this present epidemic, there are still countless other epidemics going on. One is the gun violence epidemic that has been plaguing most of the Western World for the last few years, and is linked to White Supremacy another epidemic that has been ongoing for centuries.

This is the duality of my rapidly metastasizing mental state. It swings like a pendulum. Yesterday, I extolled a can-do spirit, this feeling of “awe shucks guys, we can make some real sweeping change in the aftermath of this.” Today, I’m feeling that the return of normalcy will just leave us susceptible to a greater fall the next time a “once in a century pandemic,” arises. This crisis is doing a lot of things, but one is absolutely adding another global anxiety to the fire. It’s not enough that we have to stress impending illiberal technocracy, global nuclear holocaust, and irrevocable climate change, we now have to worry about mass epidemics being exacerbated because of globalization.

Targets should be a film that is right up my alley. It’s a maximalist cousin to John Boorman’s Point Blank, one of the all-time great hyper-masculine, art-deco pieces of the New Hollywood wave. Like many of the early films from the New Hollywood era, Point Blank hits different. Boorman’s film exists under a peculiar sense of dream-logic, where the explanation that it’s all a death dream doesn’t really fit, but it fits better than any of the other explanations you could possibly have. Targets too, belies explanation. It’s a dual pronged story, clearly commentating on real world gun violence, and also, lamenting the decay of traditional Hollywood “B” movie structures. I would’ve probably adored this in a big-screen setting, and would’ve definitely really liked it in a streamed setting that wasn’t attached to a global pandemic.

I am tired today. I should probably take a day to do nothing. I would also like to continue plugging away at the things I need to complete. The thing about routines is that they help you find that order you need when your sense of equilibrium is in pendulum mode. They keep you from falling into the lowest lows, and help you from peaking too high on the good days. Maybe I will take an afternoon to sleep, read, and make pasta. Who knows? Check back in tomorrow for another tone-deaf report.

This post was written by
Thomas Wishloff is currently an MA student at York University. He is new to the Toronto Film Scene, but has periodically written and podcasted for several now defunct ventures, and has probably commented on a forum with you at some point. The ex-Edmontonian has been known to enjoy a good board game, and claims to know the secret to the best popcorn in the world.
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