Grim. Bleak. Sad. Absurd. Frustrating. Weary. What to do in times like these? Exercise, eat healthy food, get some rest, go to some parties, throw some parties, see a show, make some art, meditate, take a nap, take a vacation, call a friend, hug someone, have a lot of great sex. All good options.
Anything else? What about changing your media diet?
A recent op-ed in the New York Times supposed that soon, people who enjoy the spoils of cutting the cable TV cord will soon find themselves paying just as much in individual streaming subscription fees (for content that they don’t really want) than they were when they had cable service.
TV is an escape from the bleakness of our time. Talking about series we are watching has come to represent a tiny step back toward community, or at least, communal experiences.
I really enjoy great content, but I am increasingly weary from the amount of visual, video information that I seek and take in — and annoyed at the amount of time I spend watching it. Furthermore, the proliferation of streaming options is starting to feel as dystopian to me as everything else does — “if they are sitting home, binge watching, they can’t be paying much attention to what is going on in the real world.”
So what? I am not the type of person who wants to eschew access to film and TV entirely. But, I can make different choices about what, when, and how much I watch.
Last night, after a much needed trip to the gym, I watched, “The Biggest Little Farm,” a documentary that I had meant to see on the big screen. Directed by John Chester, the farmer (who is also a filmmaker), and also featuring his wife, Molly, a chef, as well as their 60 person staff including men who have farmed the Chesters’ land through five previous landowners, and a team of wwoofers who help work the farm, this is ultimately a story about nature. Rather, it’s a about the way that large-scale farming techniques deplete the land, and possibly how to regenerate it through biodiversity.
The movie unfolds like a dramedy, beginning with a dramatic cliffhanger involving the recent California wildfires, and then flashing back to the time when the Chesters (with the help of an unnamed venture capitalist) buy what is now known as Apricot Lane Farms, a certified biodynamic and organic farm in Moorpark, CA, an hour north of Los Angeles.
The film is as beautifully shot as any National Geographic or Planet Earth episode. You quickly stop focusing so much on the Chesters’ personal story as it is replaced by the much more fascinating dramas that play out as the farm’s ecosystem works (or doesn’t) over the course of seven years. The end result is transcendent and, ultimately, hope inducing. I might watch it again.
(Image URL: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Apricot+Lane+Farmsfirstname.lastname@example.org,-118.924105,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!1sAF1QipP418G7dgwz22XfQfBc6RagAblpXRLhbHHvqej9!2e10!3e12!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipP418G7dgwz22XfQfBc6RagAblpXRLhbHHvqej9%3Dw114-h86-k-no!7i2000!8i1500!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x554523fbe7b4ef24!8m2!3d34.3139705!4d-118.9243958 ; no photographer credited.)