I tried flipping thru the channels, which is my major activity most Satruday nights, but it was useless. I knew better. But you know how when you have cable, and each time you get to a new channel, there's that display at the bottom of the screen, telling you the name of the show, the time, the network? So I get to the local FOX affiliate, the images flickering of an American ex-president on the screen, and the pre-empted program name below, Just Shoot Me. Indeed. I knew it would be pointless to try to watch any television for the entire weekend, if not longer, so I went out to rent some movies, to avoid the inevitable onslaught of god-awful oversaturation of this moment we knew was coming.
My "80's boyfriend" called later in the night, after he had gotten home and heard the news on the radio. Feeling much like me, not wishing ill of any human, but having survived the era together, we chatted for awhile. Before hanging up, he said "It's mourning in America" - to which I groaned, getting the bad joke, but worse, realizing we WILL be seeing that bad phrase, perhaps MOURNING IN AMERICA 2004 with spiraling graphics leaping out at us from the tube. I returned to one movie, the Bill Murray one from last year, which I liked. Then switched to Before Night Falls, a film I knew nothing about; but it was on the very top shelf at the video rental store - the Gay Section (odd, I had thought, in this day and age, in Manhattan, that R-rated gay-themed films are put beyond my 5'7" reach). Turned out to be quite fascinating, a gay Cuban writer, in Cuba thru the 60's, the 70's, poverty, imprisoned, torture, etc etc etc.... and finally escapes to America. I didn't see it coming. The wonderful shot of him and his friends in a convertable, driving thru Manhattan, mouths open facing the sky as it snowed. Gay man, Manhattan, 1980's. Finally, freedom. Then the scene of him, drenched in sweat in bed. Awwww crap, I thought. I was hoping to escape these thoughts.
The rest of the film was hard to watch. Don't get me wrong, it was well done, simple, poignant. Brief scene in the hospital, then the claustrophobic final scenes in his little NY apartment. But just too much of a reminder of growing into adulthood in my 20's, in the 1980's, during the Reagan Era. Turning the TV off, I fell asleep. But this morning I woke up angry, very angry. Remember the so-called controversial CBS film on the Reagans? He didn't really say that! Yes, the same people who give him credit for single-handedly ending the Cold War will argue that one man, even a president, couldn't have done anything about AIDS. Fascinating argument, one that tens of thousands of Americans will never have the opportunity to engage in.
America should be mourning.