My parents used to call me ‘the Ice Maiden’ when I was a kid because I was completely unmoved by killer emo telly stuff like Lassie Come Home and Watership Down and that thing about the dead reindeer, Prancer. With hindsight, I was probably just distracted by imagining my life as the owner of a pegasus, or as a mermaid, or if Kylie and Jason were my parents, because nowadays I sob at anything. Seriously. Guy Garvey’s just come on the radio to talk about his first ever slow dance. I’m crying right now.
Last night, however, at Decade, I was all prepared for a mega-blubfest with no mascara and a big scarf to blow my nose on, but the show was not at all as I had expected. This was no ITV1 special with snot-ridden firemen. Decade concentrated on the years between 9/11 and now; the widows, the immigrants, the politicians, the Ground Zero tour guides, a WTC worker who had taken the day off, and (but of course) Simon Schama. It was gently immersive in that we were greeted as guests in a restaurant with panoramic views of Manhattan and performances were given in booths and on table tops, but the scenes weren’t connected apart from by theme, so there was no cataclysmic narrative climax to get the tears flowing. If anything, it seemed like the gazillion writers, and Rupert Goold who directed, had tried to stay as far away from sentimentality as possible. Turns out I could’ve worn mascara after all.
There were two main things that struck me while I was watching. Firstly, having twenty billion big name writers on the project might’ve been nice for the marketing team, but it just didn’t work. D’you remember that film about race that won an Oscar a few years back? Crash. (Not the Ballard thing about the guy who fucks a car crash leg wound. The other one.) That took one theme and many characters and wound a series of stories together in a really really fucking brilliant way. It showed us a hundred different points of view and also subtley showed how the attitudes of one person effects another and another and another. I don’t often bang on about films but if you haven’t seen Crash, you really should. It’s wonderfully written. It was those kinds of connections that were missing from Decade, and although I’m not implying that collaborative writing can’t produce a coherent thread, collecting disparate scenes by different writers is surely starting off on the back foot.
The other main thing that I noticed is that I’ve started to really like dancing. I used to be all like ‘yes well a bit of movement is fine if it makes a scene change work but hold the tap shoes THANK YOU VERY MUCH’ but last night I was absolutely loving it. There was a bit with air stewardess moves at the start of the second half that’s TOTALLY getting worked into Zumba class tonight.