Underneath my yellow skin

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Picky media consumer

I am not a picky eater. At least, I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for my sensitivities. There are only a few things I don’t like, and the list includes kiwi, water chestnuts (I LOVE regular chestnuts, though), and coconut. I like coconut curries, but coconut itself? Not so much. Other than that, I’m pretty much a fan more or less of food. When it comes to the media I consume, however, it’s a much different story.

I once flummoxed a professor in my grad program ((Writing & Consciousness) by saying I didn’t like movies. She said that was like saying I don’t like sandwiches or soups–both of which I like, thank you very much. Part of the problem is that at the time, there weren’t many movies that reflected me. Taiwanese American bisexual fat woman? Yeah, good luck finding something with that, mate! In addition, I’m always conscious that I’m watching a movie. When I read a book, I disappear into the pages and am absorbed in the world. With a good book, I completely forget that I exist. With movies, I’m always removed from the action except on very rare occasions. My three favorite movies, Once, The Station Agent, and Japanese Story, are all movies I actually lost myself in, even if it weren’t for the whole time. Another difference is that I can read my favorite books a million times, but I don’t often feel compelled to watch a movie more than once.

I find movies limiting. When I read books, my mind provides the details that the book doesn’t give. With movies, it’s all on the screen, and I find it a much more passive way of ingesting media. I think there’s less room for error, too, because continuity can be a problem. I remember watching a movie (don’t remember the movie now) that was so bad, I noticed that the color of a shirt wasn’t consistent in what was supposed to be the same scene. I’m not that detail-oriented, so the fact that I noticed meant I was not into the movie at all.

Another problem with movies for me is that my brain can’t always differentiate between reality and fabrication, so horrific images in movies stay with me a long time in the way horrific scenes in books don’t. I know that seems counter to what I said earlier, but I never said my brain was consistent. There’s a suicide scene in Girl, Interrupted, that stayed with me for years afterwards. Any time I thought of it, I would feel as if someone had actually died. With books, the whole experience may stay with me, but I’m less likely to remember horrible scenes with such a vivid reaction.


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