But whereas pumpkin spice fever will give way to peppermint and eggnog by the time Black Friday rolls around, you can expect biopic season to trudge along all the way through the end of December, the Oscar eligibility cutoff date.
However, when I asked Google to explain why biopics are so popular, a quick scroll through the first few pages of results left me deeply underwhelmed. So I’ve spent the past two weeks doing a lot of reading and enough number-crunching to make me seriously question at least half of my life choices in search of a satisfying answer. While I have not transformed into an all-knowing font of biographical film knowledge, I have learned some things, condensed for your convenience below.
In the weeks leading up to the end of our five-year relationship, my boyfriend and I spent all our time together watching Alone. The show—a History Channel original—follows ten contestants as they self-document their attempts to survive alone in the wilderness. The winner is the last person left standing. They call it tapping out, but really what that means is that the contestant presses a button on their emergency satellite phone and the rescue crews swoop in.
We didn’t know it was the end then, but in those final weeks my boyfriend, Jamie, and I sat on opposite ends of the couch together, watching in the dark of our small house as, one by one, each of the contestants reached their breaking point and went home.
Midwestern Girl goes to New York City and reminds the protagonist (of course she is not the protagonist) of everything he has left behind. He covets her innocence and despises it. When she gives up and returns home, he is sad, but not surprised.
A flick of your wrist. Midwestern Girl stands alone at a house party. The protagonist smiles at her, as if to say, Cheer up and I notice subtle things, and this reminds the reader that the protagonist is secretly sensitive, no matter what he has done or will do. He and Midwestern Girl never speak and the story leaves her to sip her beer in a corner. In the living room, the protagonist punches his best friend. Will he turn out to be like his father? He ends the night with two strangers. They walk to the East River and throw rocks into the fathomless dark deep.
Extraordinary how Beckett, taking an axe to the relation between words and things, conveys and entertains so much more than the novelist who confidently puts words to his inner thoughts. We should read our great authors, not mythologize them.