The rest of the family keeps trying to get me to spend more time at the digital big screen they put in our parlor. Not that it’s anywhere near the Black Wall of Death I’ve seen elsewhere in our midst. Admittedly, winter can be a long emotional struggle in this remote fishing village, and for much of it, I’ve been alone in our toehold here. Even as a writer’s retreat, those depths can be a challenge.
As an additional aside, let me admit I’ve always been more of a “radio guy” rather than TV, one skewered toward classical, opera, jazz, and folk music at the more esoteric edge of the dial.
Now, as I must confess, their push has led to some binge viewing, as if I even knew the term previously. Being able to stream programming does make a huge difference in the selections. Maybe this is what I get in a remarriage that has made everything (and kept everyone) younger except me.
And yet, I hate to confess, much of what I’ve viewed has even been extraordinarily fine writing, acting, and production.
The latest round they’ve introduced me to, though, might be considered slumming. It’s the so-called reality show Project Runway in its several incarnations.
The appeal is puzzling. I’m anything but a fashionable guy, despite my personal flair. And I’m definitely counter-consumerism, even in the face of the TV series’ shameless appendage to the clothing industry and the lingering impact of “brand placement”.
But I do understand having to work against a deadline, with little or no time for correction. That’s the daily news biz where I made my career, for one thing. The idea of having to create quickly within limits and obstacles also resonates, even or more commonly on a low budget. Oh, yes, do look to newspaper newsrooms for that. Besides, as the series demonstrates, the reasons an editor or a reader or a fashion judge goes for a certain work or rejects it outright is another connection for me. For that reason, I do love the insights into a decision, even when I’m vocally objecting to the outcome.
Many facets of the Project Runway series deeply bother me, even offend. Much of the judging is blatantly biased and a strand of cruelty is engrained in the series, yet overall, what remains is addictive.
I think that the center of that is the fact that within the creative process, fashion creates something that is more concrete on video than say a poem, a dinner, or a string quartet.
As a male, I see that there’s far more to wear than long pants or shorts, or an oxford dress shirt versus a T-shirt. You know, a very limited range. As for neckties? I doubt most young men even know how to tie one today, something that was a requirement for employment in many careers in the past.
There are glimpses into the much wider range of decisions women face, but even that soon hits barriers, as we find in the the show’s focus on women’s wear, still largely in the realm of dresses.
As for the line between “fashion” and “costume” or just “clothes”? Or “youthful” and “juvenile”? If the labels were more definable, this could be educational.
Beyond that, some of the young designers become fascinating characters in their own right.
Fortunately, my binge viewing’s moving out a bit with “Shrinking,” “Community,” or the quirky, original, rough-edged, and hard-to-follow “Reservation Dogs,” which almost puts Oklahoma just one town over from us. Or some other series that should be back soon with more episodes.
Don’t I have better things to do in my “spare” time? Or, for that matter, others in my now scattered family?