In my last post, I wrote about the tragic destruction of an imaginary world. Did I flesh out the topic as well as I was intending? The post received a number of comments, mostly from people comiserating about being similarly upset by the end of season four of the British Skins. There we were, talking to each other about television.
Sure, sometimes I like to talk about television. I visited the imaginary world, and you did too– it makes sense we might want to share notes on our travels. It doesn’t matter that we are talking about a pretend place. If the imaginary seems real enough that we care to talk about it, then by talking about it we have made the agreement that it really exists. It’s so bizarre that a world can just be invented out of thin air. In the place of what used to be nothing there can suddenly be a huge amount of sensation and importance and meaning. You might think that because a team of young writers made up a story about a group of teenage friends, it would be okay for them to be whimsical about how they manipulated the characters, since none of it was actually real to begin with. But it’s not okay. They invented a place that I believed in, and when they treated it carelessly it registered to me as an actual loss. They f–ed it.
It is possible to create a world, and it is possible ruin a world. I don’t mean a cataclysmic ending like taking the show entirely off the air. I mean something more like making choices that make the show so crappy that it just breaks your heart to see it, because you remember how great it used to be. This is the kind of ending of the world that I am talking about. If I am using television as a metaphor to talk about something much larger (and of importance to people who don’t care about television at all) it is because I haven’t yet found words to describe the bigger thing in a way that doesn’t sound puny, or hysterical. Basically, this is my thesis: I think it’s cool to care. Some kids stand on the edge and when something gets ruined they say that they never cared in the first place, or maybe nowadays they start right off the bat not caring much about anything. It feels like this is the approach that the writers of Skins were taking when they wrote their show off the cliff. Not giving a shit is sometimes a cool looking pose to strike, but it can also be pretty depressing.