Thursday, December 26, 2013

i think this is getting too personal

So, today I was at the movie theater watching her

—which, since several people have had no idea what movie I’m talking about when I mention it, I’ll describe. Spike Jonze writes and directs. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, recently separated with divorce pending, unable to really get on with his life. For a living, he works for Beautiful Handwritten Letters (a dot com I was actually surprised to find didn’t exist) crafting notes, postcards, and letters for other people based on whatever little information they provide. Arguably, he’s more responsible for some relationships than the people involved, with all the work he puts in. The film begins, in fact, with him composing one letter then immediately starting on the response to that very letter. Out one day he buys a new artificially intelligent operating system—OS1—for his computer/phone. His personalized OS—voiced by Scarlett Johansson—names herself Samantha because she likes the sound of it. She calls him at work and during the night. She composes bits of piano music to capture the events of their life together because photos are impossible.

While Theodore still daydreams about his relationship with his wife and while interactions with a female friend (Amy Adams) imply a possible future between them, the film is about his relationship with Samantha. With his phone in his shirt pocket, a safety pin holding it high enough for the camera to see out, he takes her everywhere. And, oddly enough, the film doesn’t really suggest that the relationship is necessarily strange. Reminiscent of Lars and the Real Girl, the film treats the relationship itself as rather genuine and suggests, with its near-future setting, that we have all moved so far into impersonal interactions that this will be commonplace.

I won’t SPOIL the film further except to say that this is common enough in Theodore’s world that sexual surrogates for the OS’s come into play and Theodore and Samantha go on a double date in which the other couple don’t blink an eye at Samantha being a phone. Theodore’s soon-to-be-ex-wife is really the only character within the film to suggest outright that Theodore’s relationship is inherently flawed. All that being said, the film also doesn’t promote this type of relationship either—

Anyway, as I was saying, I was watching her and a thought occurred to me. Theodore is in a relationship with his OS and I think I might be in a relationship with Groundhog Day. I mean, at a basic level, it’s almost obvious. I spend time with Groundhog Day regularly. I’ve spent a lot of time exploring stuff we have in common. I’ve explored Groundhog Day’s interests (eternal recurrence, Christ-Figures, time loops, etc.) and forced Groundhog Day into my interests (all those impromptu quotations, my arguments with religion… actually that one’s probably a shared interest). I can finish all of Groundhog Day’s sentences, though I don’t think Groundhog Day can finish mine…

Let’s do this a little more systematically. Like with the whole Christ-Figure thing, I will start with a single checklist for assessment. In particular, I’ll go with Ask Men’s “Top 10: Ways To Tell Your Casual Relationship Isn’t Casual.” Some of this obviously will not apply. While Theodore Twombly and Samantha do manage a sort of sexual relationship, I must say that Groundhog Day and I do not.

10: Assumed Dates

CHECK. In fact, Groundhog Day and I have not only assumed “dates” but somewhat scheduled ones. Ask Men suggests that these dates are “mapping out invisible rules and boundaries that are difficult to reverse.” In fact, early on in this project, I hadn’t officially set rules, then I did. And, yes, they are hard to reverse. I can’t just skip a day or it seems like the project so far will lose some value. I’ve got to get to some legitimate round number, six months at the least (which is why I began on August 2nd, so the 6-month mark would fall on Groundhog Day [day before it, actually… oops]), a year optimally. Today is Day 147. One could make an argument that 150 days would be okay… but I managed to keep up this blog and the daily “dates” with Groundhog Day throughout the whole fall quarter of grad school, I figure there’s no point in stopping right in the middle of winter break.

9. Pet Names

CHECK (SORT OF). While I do not have pet names for Groundhog Day itself, I’ve got some for its characters and its extras, some of which I listed a while back. If a character doesn’t have a name—the boy who falls from the tree, for example—I will assign him one; that boy is Zacchaeus when I refer to him on this blog and sometimes just Zach if I refer to him out loud. Extras get names like Walrus and Goober and Stache (which I really pronounce Stashy). Groundhog Day, though, is still just Groundhog Day.

8. Public Displays of Affection

CHECK (with a caveat). Obviously, I do not kiss, hold hands with, or cuddle with Groundhog Day in public. But, considering the nature of this blog, the accompanying Twitter and Facebook, and my recent invasion of the IMDb board about the film, I’d say my displays of affection for the film are definitely public.

7. Repeat Phone Calls

NOPE. No phone calls at all. In fact, if Groundhog Day ever calls me, I will be very very alarmed.

6. Dropping the Word “Boyfriend”

NOPE. As far as I am aware, Groundhog Day has never called me its boyfriend.

5. Less Emphasis on Sex, More on “Quality Time”

NOPE. While Groundhog Day and I are clearly more about quality time, we never had an emphasis on sex, so I cannot say this one applies… BUT, then there’s this:

If she’s booking cultural events or holiday time with you months in advance, she is projecting into the future and putting you there.

In fact, it’s me who may be booking some holiday time with Groundhog Day pretty soon, arranging to go to Woodstock for February 2nd. So, in spirit, I think this one might actually apply.

4. Four Words: “We Look Good Together”

NOPE. Aside from the fact this one is a bit sexist—maybe I shouldn’t have just picked a random google result for my checklist—suggesting only the woman could be “fantasising about a world in which the two of you are together and happy.” Groundhog Day and I have yet to be photographed together and we often sit across from one another when on our “dates.”

3. Staring: Lovingly, Adoringly or Longingly

CHECK. Seriously, while I often work on my blog entry during the film, Groundhog Day does nothing but sit there staring at me for 101 minutes at a time. If one can stare without eyes. Well, Groundhog Day has many eyes actually, though they are two dimensional and only occasionally look directly at me. Maybe that doesn’t qualify as staring. I stare at Groundhog Day sometimes, though I let my attention wander to Groundhog Day-related things.

(This is another very sexist one, by the way. “While she is in this trance-like state, get up slowly and back out of the room,” it says. Like we males can’t also stare adoringly.)

2. The Toothbrush Syndrome

NOPE (except maybe in spirit). Groundhog Day has no teeth. Or has many teeth but only in two dimensions like those eyes mentioned above. And, they don’t respond to toothpaste, not that I’ve tried any. However, in spirit, the whole casual moving vibe might apply, considering I’ve got a DVD, a blu-ray, a beanie baby, a signed script, three books and a copy of an old science fiction magazine, and a binder full of printed articles that Groundhog Day has brought into my house.

1. Meeting the Fockers

CHECK (SORT OF). Depending on who the “Fockers” are in this case, I think I spent enough time with Rubin’s How to Write Groundhog Day or dissecting both Rubin’s script and Ramis’ revision that if Rubin and Ramis are the parents in question, I’ve gotten to know them somewhat… Haven’t actually met them, though.

On the other hand, if the parents of Groundhog Day are Ramis’ earlier films or Murray’s earlier films, then I actually knew the parents before I ever met Groundhog Day.

If the parents of Groundhog Day include the likes of 12:01 P.M., the short film, or “12:01 P.M.,” the short story, then I’ve spent some time with those parents. I’ve also spent a lot of time with some of the children of Groundhog Day on my three TV Time Loop Days.

So, my final score is five CHECKS, five NOPES (unless we count that “Quality Time” one as a CHECK). Groundhog Day and I must still be keeping things casual.

Today’s reason to repeat a day forever: to take things to the next level (whatever that means).

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