When I was younger, my media consumption was based on looking for things I would rewatch as often as possible. As I’ve said before, when I was a child, I would obsess over the one movie for a few days at a time. In my early twenties, while I regularly searched for and engaged with new series, I also had a large stable of TV shows and movies that I would rewatch on an annual and sometimes biannual schedule. The past few years, I’ve noticed my interest in rewatching old stuff has been replaced by a craving for novelty; when I do rewatch something old, especially a television series, it’s because I feel like I haven’t unlocked all its secrets yet. I’ve read that people with anxiety can take to rewatching old favourites as a way of relieving it, because the predictability is comforting; I can definitely see some of that in my shifting tastes. A large part of it comes from writing for this site, as I finally lock down and solidify the fundamental truths I see in these works and carry them with me, rather than only drawing on them when they’re physically around me. And some of it is just straight up a shift in my brain chemistry – aside from the lack of anxiety, I can feel that my brain stopped growing when I was twenty-five. It’s not that I’m incapable of learning new things – in fact, quite the opposite, my brain feels as it has stabilised and I am now free to explore avenues that would have been too hard before.
The point that I am ambling towards is that I’ve taken on a greater appreciation of movies that I know I’ll only watch once. It’s something I first noticed when I watched The Irishman; even as I watched it, I felt that what was pleasurably enervating now would be tedious upon rewatch, when the novelty had worn off. The movie is extremely simple, both in what it has to say and in the filmmaking it uses to say it – none of the overwhelming stimulation of Goodfellas, none of the depth of story of No Direction Home. But I was okay with that – the emotional sensation the movie provided was both unique enough and intense enough to have justified a single watch, and I found I was rewarded with one more point in my overall conception of movies and the world; I found it’s entered my thoughts when I consider my work in aged care and my general conception of older people and how they feel and act. This conception of pop culture consumption feels nice, as if I no longer have an all-or-nothing approach to media; it can entertain me and be important without totally rocking my conception of the world or myself. I’ve noticed it carry over to even the genuinely great stuff I see; I watched Seinfeld and 30 Rock this year, and I can see that I would have obsessively rewatched at least the latter at one time in my life but I’m satisfied with what I’ve seen for now.
What are movies and shows you’ve only seen the once and only needed to see the once?