I'm not saying it to be tough. I'm not saying it to be jovial. I mean it. This is just my experience. I find horror films boring. Truly. I can't buy into the ridiculous fiction that keeps so many on the edge of their seats. I feel as though I'm missing out on something: the fear, the trauma, the nightmares. Then I stumble upon a disturbing documentary. The right doco film will keep me awake at night, leave me with images for days, and traumatise me from its subject matter for years afterwards.
Blackfish, a gorgeously well-made doco, has had this effect. Concerning itself with an Orca Whale who killed a trainer at Sea World, Florida, the insight into the animal's dark history, and the compelling case made against Sea World left a deep mark. The theme park should be tried for severe animal cruelty, and the film doesn't spare us from explaining why. I will find it difficult to return to just about any zoo. A couple of weeks after watching, I still find myself thinking on Tilikum, the murderous Orca Whale. I find myself reading any blog or article I can find on the film's follow-up. Blackfish was released in 2012, and has has gradually built a viewership that has put enough pressure on SeaWorld to release a statement, but not actually do anything. The pressure continues to mount.
There are several other docos on my list that I've spared myself from watching because of the trauma that would ensue. It's one thing to not watch docos out of ignorance, it's quite another to understand their importance and not watch them out of fear. The Invisible War, for example, is an Oscar-nominated film looking at women's appalling experience in the contemporary military. I know I need to see it, I know it's a valuable subject that we should all know about, but I can't quite bring myself to participate in the experience. I know it will make me angry, and complicate my world-view into an uneasy mess. (I'll watch it soon, I promise.)
This is ironic, of course, because I've been known to write several works that educate first and entertain later.My relatives have been known to work from a theatre having seen one of my works and mutter, 'Why don't you just do a nice musical next?'
It's important that these things exist, and I suppose we all avoid them in our own way. Like fruit and vegetables, we know when something's good for us, but we don't necessarily enjoy it. TV and Films, in particular, is arguably no place for fruit and vegetables. Such arguments are hollow when you look at the monumental affect these cultural artefacts can have on us. It can't be mindless popcorn and junk food all the time, as much as we would like it to be.
Works are sometimes 'unenjoyable', but works like Blackfish are never boring, and I always leave such films traumatised but glad of the experience. Maybe give reality TV a break and watch something with a few green leaves in it.