Wednesday, June 04, 2008

An Apology to those suffering from Audio Commentary Phobia

I used to silently snicker at people who would tell me that they couldn't stand to watch movies on DVD with the audio commentary on because the behind the scenes secrets revealed through that narration would fundamentally ruin the film watching experience. To me, if I loved a movie, whatever a director or actor said in such a viewing would likely not ruin the experience for me, and I didn't really understand where my contemporaries were coming from.

And then I had an experience with a different medium which allowed me to see the error of my ways.

You see, recently I started reading Juliana Hatfield's blog. When I was in college, I was just so into her music, and I still enjoy those albums even though my tastes have changed since then, so I thought it would be interesting to check in on her blog to see what's been going on in her world.

Now the problem for me is, she started writing some entries about individual songs and explaining the backstory behind them, and I sort of liked living in ignorance about those things. In the world of music, I enjoy the arbitrary interpretive act of determining what a particular song means, as it is half the fun, especially when you can't be entirely sure what a particular singer is saying anyway.

But it isn't Miss Hatfield's fault. She is providing a genuine service to her fans, and for that I salute her. However, when one has come to their own conclusions about a particular piece of work, having the person who created that same piece of work nail things down in an entirely different way than you expected is a little disheartening. I think the only song that I could really get into the singer/songwriter breaking down would probably be Don McLean's American Pie, because that thing is just so full of allusions that the waters need a little clarifying from the man who wrote it.

And the strange thing is, when it comes to comparable forms of artistic expression, like poetry, narrative fiction and the like, I really don't have this problem. If I loved a poem, and I read the author's version of what it is all about, it doesn't seem to diminish my love for the work. I don't know why... that's just how it is.

So to those people I had made fun of in my thoughts because of their stance, well, I am willing to admit that I was wrong and you do make some valid points. So I am sorry for mocking you, even though you didn't know I was doing it.

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