Friday, March 18, 2005

Reality in a Box

Last night David and I watched "35 Up", part of the 'Up' series mentioned previously. We are well and truly sucked into this series. We watched '28 Up' last weekend, but I haven't written a coherent commentary on it yet. I scribbled pages of notes while I sat in the waiting lounge at the hospital on Monday, but haven't put them together. Last night, when we watched '35 Up', I was even more affected. There is so much going on in their lives beyond what a documentary can show that I think it's rather impossible to be detached about it, not if you are interested at all in the human condition.

The last installment we have is '42 Up' (they're filming/editing '49 Up'), which we'll probably watch tonight. I'm wondering already how I'm going to write about my observations of these people from 7-35 years old, let alone cover the next stage of 42. As David mentioned, onscreen we've watched them grow up, age to our ages, and in this film they'll pass us. All in a couple of weeks. It's a mind-boggling time compression.

What makes it even more hard-hitting, to me, is that I'm watching and writing about this documentary in tandem with "American Idol". It seems a joke to draw a comparison since the scope of reality is completely different between the 'Up' series and American Idol, but they share a common theme of video documentary for the purpose of showing "reality". Other than that they bear virtually no resemblance. I made notes on American Idol on Wednesday night after watching the two segments, but haven't finished putting it together. I think I might combine this week and next week's episodes, because I find Idol's formula wearing on me and -- next to the 'Up' series -- looking more like a dog and pony show.