Wednesday, January 31, 2007
She Spies, I Get Sad
There are a million ways to perceive the world, a million shades
The saddest thing about the sexy spy comedy starring Natasha Henstridge, SHE SPIES, this canceled old network late night TV show now available on DVD, is that it’s so self aware that it becomes lost in itself and still is what it is. For me as its target audience it's devastating to see how refined banality can be. There’s nothing “wrong” with the show per se, but it just leaves itself nowhere to go in its post-modern archness. It also splits viewers between those in and those not in show business. If you are in show business, advertising, television or have ever freelanced in these areas, then you know the bizarre depressing nature of watching TV shows while at work, the steady digital editing and toying, images repeating over and over, facile banter straining for wittiness amongst your trend-hogging colleagues. In this show it seems as if the editors are editing as it goes along, live, and bored.
What saves it is Natasha Henstridge, who has a genuine gift for comedy. She plays it in this loose, fun way like she's a big Groucho Marx fan. She transcends the need for perfect comic timing by sheer not caring. As the star of this show and aware obviously of its zero budget. Actually, the show makes fun of its zero budget in its post-ironic way, but the third time you see a show become hip to its disposability, even that becomes disposable. Then you are in trouble, because fourth wall winks aint been new, modern or relevant since the Weimar era. If the spies were to perform some Brecht, then as Chico Marx would say, you a gotta something.
We all think there is a common reality in which there is no god or there is a god or black people suck or black people are groovy or there is no difference but in fact our own minds can be changed and opened incredibly… if we all followed our own path towards bliss, if we all dropped our guards at once and embraced each other in unconditional love then the world would change instantly for the better.
Great feats should be done because one is thrilled to be discovering their inner potential, the way a kid opens presents at Xmas, or someone discovers there’s a whole other floor to their house they never knew about. That would be a good story, the one where they discover the extra floor in the house for real and someone’s living in it, like Anne Frank.
We all have an Anne Frank in our heads, squirreled away,.
But instead we do our great deeds to… what? win an award? get ourselves noticed by the hot chick or dad? Why do want to get the hot chick? What will she bring us? Will she bring us the admiration of our friends? Will they love us more? Will we explode in ecstasy copulating with such excellent alien DNA? What about dad? Will he ever really think we're adults as long as we keep expecting him to tell us so? Is it for this admiration, or is it that we like the chemicals the brain sends us when we get noticed. Our excellence is its own reward, the system works, admiration begets confidence which begets stronger workers.
I mention this in regards to SHE SPIES for a very simple reason. The show is afraid of excellence, afraid of pushing for relevance and in doing so it collapses under its own irony and disaffection. The only way to succeed in a show like this is to play it absolutely straight... like BATMAN with Adam West, or STAR TREK with William Shatner. Camp can't be made, folks. Camp has to be earned... through earnestness not self-awareness. Sort of like how the French are funny... except when they do comedy.