The Second Time Around

After seeing Wicked last month, I couldn't help thinking that my parents (particularly my mom) who'd be visiting, would really enjoy it. Within an hour of being in Chicago, my mother brought up that she'd heard about Wicked and The Color Purple, so we booked tickets the next day.

I thought they needed context to be able to enjoy the story, so we rented The Wizard of Oz, the night before. My mom made me pick up The Devil Wears Prada as well. As a result, I did something that I haven't in a while. Guiltlessly paid for, and sat down to enjoy, art for a second time.

One rule I've informally followed for a very, very long time is to try to never repeat watching a movie, a TV show or even reading a (fiction) book. The somewhat iffy logic has been that the time could be better spent learning something new, enjoying something different or just more productively. After b-school, I know enough to characterize this as the opportunity cost argument.

I realize that this really makes no sense applied to life. I really enjoyed Wicked even more the second time around. I noticed little things I hadn't noticed before. I got the significance of lines that I'd missed the first time around. I enjoyed the songs so much more, and even compared things between performances. When I'm watching reruns on TV (it doesn't count if you don't plan for it, and it just happens to you:)) I've noticed I always enjoy certain sitcoms and movies more the second time around. I either enjoy the nuance more, or think about it a different way, or just have more of an opportunity to admire the actor/writer's skill when I know what's coming.

Now this shouldn't really surprise me! Good art has layers. Even if the creator didn't intend there to be, if its good, the layers are there! And you need the multiple iterations to be able to peel back one layer to look at those below. Sometimes its not even about the layers. If art evokes certain emotions within you, its just about feeling those emotions again. For example, when I was about 11, I watched the video of about half of this movie 32 times. To give you a sense of my emotional fix range, I've watched about (the first, ridiculously sweet) half of this movie (on cable in India) about 10 times as well. My mom, for example, regularly reads a book that she likes multiple times.

This doesn't hold for every work of art, but does hold true for enough of them that a second viewing shouldn't be something that we (at least I) avoid, and indeed may be something that we should actively plan for.


shmoo said…
I rarely re-consume, but there are definitely a few movies I've seen many times (usually ones I loved as a kid). There are a few books I've re-read, usually after many years. Plus I've seen certain Simpsons episodes many times. I've seen certain plays more than once as well (Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, Les Miserables, My Fair Lady) but it was always a different production.
i, OTOH, am a rampant re-consumer. i think it goes hand-in-hand with being fangirly about stuff (though, one does not necessarily need to re-consume in order to be fan; i.e. shmoo). some of the discussions (IRL and online) i've had about, say, the use of violence as a metaphor for sex in the Buffyverse only work if the participants in the discussion have (a) really really good memories, or (b) are rampant re-consumers. ITA that with "good art" you get layers. especially with art where there is a lot of metaphor and subtext at work.

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