Posted in Of Psyche

Of Distraction

Simon Baker

I am sorry I have been missing from the blogging scene for a few weeks. But, I have a solid alibi for where I’ve been.

It isn’t the usual excuse – having a blogging/existential/both crisis. Well, it sort of is, but it has been more of me trying to avoid having a crisis in the first place.

Or I’ve been hypnotised by the very pretty Simon Baker, which has resulted in me bingewatching his TV show The Mentalist.

Yes, I’ve substituted every spare moment I have (including blogging time, exercise time, contemplating my place in the universe time…) with watching the surprisingly funny crime show The Mentalist. I feel a little bit guilty for wasting time like this but hey, sorry but not sorry.

Sure it’s a bad habit to be procrastinating like this, but I sincerely believe our distractions tell us more about ourselves than our occupations. Superficially, it seems like a case of the lotos eaters – a mythological tribe of people who were too distracted with eating lotos to get on with their lives – but if you read between the lines, your obsessions tell more about you than your responsibilities.

Apart from my latent talent in solving crime, the most obvious clue in this case lies in the beauty of the lead himself. Simon Baker is so obviously beautiful, I’m even disappointed by how easily and consistently I am distracted by it. Of course, his character – the playful, manipulative, cowardly, 100-carat-smile-flashing ex-psychic Patrick Jane – has enough charisma to hook anybody. Not just a pretty face, he exercises the mind too, with stunning admissions like, “Everyone should do arts and craft.”

Relationship Status

Next, are the episodic crimes themselves. It’s probably endless repetitions of commercials that lent TV the nickname “Idiot Box”, but the best whodunnits are excellent exercises for the brain. You, as the audience, start solving the problem in parallel with the detectives, and while the detective has the advantage over you in exposing the motivation in the final act, it’s the clues, the trail of breadcrumbs that act as bait for you. Every piece of televisual entertainment is a revelation of some kind, but the satisfaction gained from a whodunnit is different from any other.

I wondered what Patrick Jane would observe if he had to, uh, mentalise me. “Intelligent but lazy. Has weak resolve, easily led by the pleasure principle. However, is hard on herself, plagued with constant guilt, stemming from childhood restrictions. Copes by laughing it all off.”

There’s this idea from High Fidelity – What matters is what you like, not what you are like. That, how you choose to spend your time, your tastes, your preferences, tell more about who you are, than any assessments made of your person. In cinema, I preferred quite sordid, slice-of-life, independent fare for a long time. I don’t know why I chose it, or why I grew out of it. I suppose, because I did not see cinema as an escape, a kick, a relief, but as something serious and important. A responsibility even, something to deeply engage yourself in. Whodunnits are a fine line between the serious and the frivolous, because they may appear shiny and dreamy, but real things happen in them all the time.

I still have a few seasons to go (no spoilers please!), but I think it’s time to get back to reality. One didn’t cause the other, but I have been bingewatching more because I’ve been anxious about a couple of things, things that are unlikely to be resolved any time soon. Sometimes, it’s better (and easier) to just forget, keep aside, than actively try to resolve an issue. No self-help book would tell you that. They’d ask you to be proactive instead, or change your life altogether. But, if momentary distractions, relaxations, obsessions can do the trick, why not let them?

What have you been watching lately? How do you distract yourself?



Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

19 thoughts on “Of Distraction

  1. I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself here! While writing *should* always come first, watching TV can actually be really valuable if you do it with intention. It teaches us about storytelling, character building, and genre conventions — both what works and what doesn’t. It seems like The Mentalist is a good fit for just that … and you’re making me want to watch it. I love trying to solve mysteries!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and sharing, Kate! I hope you’re doing well. I think you will definitely enjoy The Mentalist! Really strong female characters for one thing, and given the premise (based on the CBI), it’s actually quite funny!

      Writers can definitely learn from TV. It’s storytelling after all, and good TV can show how to chop things or stretch them to keep the momentum going. And we’re in the golden age of television anyway. All the best talent seems to be there!

  2. I just started watching a BBC police show-Shetland. Kind of your standard fare police show, albeit with some beautiful scenery. I was watching the Canadian private detective show Republic Of Doyle (yes, the name sold me!) but it has gotten rather silly the further it goes on. Those are the first two that spring to mind.

    1. I think I’ve heard of Shetland. Isn’t it on Netflix? I like British procedurals. Somehow, limited resources and modest settings make things more rewarding, though I do like flashy whodunnits too!

    2. As a Canadian, I am fond of Republic of Doyle. We are not very
      sophisticated in Canada with the
      * red neck approach. Humor is Canadian and Doyle was a son who adored his father, a veteran. The show is a laugh at the chronic crime nature.

      1. I’m sorry-I meant no slight to fans of the show or Canadians especially! I loved seeing Alan Doyle on the show! I should have said I personally found it to get a bit more silly as it went along. I love the relationship between Malachi and Jake. And I love seeing Newfoundland on a tv show….not to mention Jake’s sweet car!

      2. The ridulousness of the satiric humour is enjoyed because of the ridiculous motivations in the criminal justice which for us in Canada are a refreshing pleasure where we either imitate Americans or copy the British. My Irish cousin accused me of wanting to be too Irish when I already am Irish. My Mom was an immigrant.

  3. Wow you sound like you are hard on yourself like I am! It’s okay to have fun and binge watch shows (I’m telling myself this too right now). Probably not all day every day though. I love mysteries and crime shows too. Congratulations on your mental marriage to Simon Baker by the way! Lol

    1. Ha ha! Thank you! I hope it truly is a “marriage of true minds” between us.

      I tend to obsess over whatever I get hooked on. Be it a book, a show or even an album that I listen to on loop. I realised ‘The Mentalist’ was a problem when I wanted to watch it all day long! But, that’s the problem of our age, right? With streaming, it’s hard to resist watching ‘just one more’ episode, and so on!
      Thank you for reading and sharing!

  4. The gift of TV is great。 I
    watched the entire “Gilmore Girls” series and had not known why people could talk about the show。 Now I write poetry or make illustrations
    as I do not have TV。

    Taking a break with TV is fun and rewarding。

    1. I LOVE Gilmore Girls! I adore Lorelai, and #TeamJess all the way!
      I do take breaks now. It’s easier to do that with Netflix, Amazon etc. It’s also easier to get hooked!

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