Monday, September 21, 2009

My television is anti-literacy.

I'm taking a three-day mini vacation from work... and I'm already bored. Of course, I've got a stack of books to read... about three or four stacks. But digital cable is a harsh temptress, rewarding watchers with quality entertainment and enthralling trash, and I've found myself sucked into another viewing bout of... Misery:

I'm giving myself a pass on this one, mostly because it's really entertaining, an over-the-top thriller that, although teetering on the edge of ridiculousness, never goes off the rails completely. Also, and this is kind of hard to explain, I have a weird crush on Kathy Bates from watching Misery.

Yes, she's psychotic. Homicidal. Maybe she doesn't have the best grip on reality (or, at least, not a grip as good as the one on her sledgehammer). She seems to be obsessed with a fairly mediocre romance series, which doesn't exactly indicate the best level of reading taste (but who am I to judge?). Obsessive? Absolutely.

But, other than being a homicidal maniac, Annie Wilkes has some redeeming characteristics. Seriously! She's brave, strong, resourceful. She's an avid reader. She's caring and even hospitable. But more than anything, her intense obsessiveness is party to her even more intense observational talents. She has a keen eye and devotion to continuity and will not settle for less than the best from her favorite writer:

So, most viewers witnessing that would say, "What a whackjob! It's just a stupid movie. Bitch is crazy."

Indeed. Bitch is crazy. But that doesn't mean that bitch is wrong. Despite her craziness bringing about all kinds of physical and psychological torture on Paul Sheldon, there's a strange clarity to her comments on his work. Yes, he's being forced to bring his character back from the dead by a lunatic that has him virtually shackled and imprisoned. But that's no reason to be lazy. Your number one fan is reading this, Paul, and she's keeping track of everything, every character, every move, every comment. It's a credit to Annie that she is as critical a reader as she is crazy a person. This clip cuts it off, but Annie gives Paul a bit of simple, but astute advice: "Misery was buried in the ground at the end, so you'll have to start there."

Plus, I kind of love her overwhelming, creepy enthusiasm. "I've known from the very first book that Misery had to be born of nobility, and I was right!" "Misery's alive! Misery's alive! This whole house is going to be filled with romance!" Annie's also got a kind of folksy charm. "I'd have to check which one of my legs was being pulled!"

Unfortunately, she so often seems to go from extreme high to psychotic low. Oh, and she's a killer.

I'm not saying it excuses her behavior, but it's rare to meet a killer whose also an avid, enthused reader.

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