The other night I noticed, when browsing one of the innumerable streaming services that hound our blank spaces of attention like rabid dogs hound juicy steaks, HBO GO had add The Dark Knight to its roster. I’d seen the flick in the theater, way back when on a hot day in Missouri, and a couple of times sense, so, you’d think, with a gazillion (roughly) options available, I’d go and find something I hadn’t seen before.
In fact, I often find myself picking something I’ve seen before (especially with others) – the question is why?
We could chase this question into the dim corners of the mind and come up with something pertaining to comfort, perhaps. Familiarity. Or maybe there’s less risk; because I know The Dark Knight is a quality movie, I’ll have a good time with it rather than risking my time with something new that might turn out to be a visually scarring experience. After a day of taking risks, choosing a sure thing has a certain degree of relief.
But, and I’d imagine you’d find the same thing if you looked at the pieces of entertainment you come back to time and again, is that you perceive them to be singularly interesting. They matter to you. The characters, plot, or setting connect with you in a visceral way. And so, when you’re given a chance to revisit something that connects with you, it’s hard to ignore that call.
I don’t know that you, as an artist, can or should set out to create something that should connect with people. Rather, you should set out to create what you what to create. Tell the story that you want to tell. Do it as best as you can.
The Dark Knight isn’t the best movie ever made. It’s not the splashiest, the goriest, or the most melodramatic. It didn’t win the Oscar for Best Picture, and my parents, walking out of the theater, said they disliked the overly grim picture, despite its hopeful undertones. For whatever reason, on Wednesday night, The Dark Knight reached through the years and pulled me back.
Tell your story, and it’ll find its people. The ones who connect with it, who reach for something on the bookshelf and find themselves grabbing your story, for the second, third, or tenth time. Because you speak to them, and, at that time on that day in that year, you’re what they want to hear.