2020: A Film Odyssey Image

2020: A Film Odyssey

By Sean Stapleton | June 28, 2020

A love letter to VHS and a celluloid celebration, writer Sean Stapleton composes a poem inspired by cinema, 2020 and movie theater memories.

Escapism, the treasure I cherish,
From the leisure of youth ‘til the day that I perish,
Real life’s been a pleasure, I’m hiding from nothing,
But infinite worlds are colliding and bustling
for all my attention, for a matter of hours,
Inside a dark room with ear-shattering powers,
Chattering’s pointless, sweets at the ready,
Scattering popcorn, geek confetti

Plugged in to a world where you don’t have a voice,
A little like Neo, compelled with a choice,
You reject the blue pill and now Dru Hill’s a cowboy,
In an MTV video lacking in joy,
The type of Western that shuns the spaghetti,
Sisqo the thongslinger, guns at the ready

But it started for me with a JVC telly,
Aladdin on tape, butterflies in my belly,
Enchanted by genies and carpets and glee,
And a whole new world was opened to me

That VHS was stretched to the limit,
Along with some others, the joy was infinite,
Pint-sized heroes maintained my fervour,
Kevin McCallister, bane of the burglar

I remember at six, lazing in bed,
Evil Knievel, insane in the head,
Midway through March, too late for a sled,
So I went down the stairs on a skateboard instead

Yes, kids and their mates will imitate madness,
Click on their heels and eliminate Kansas,
It teaches them fun and it teaches them sadness,
But above all it teaches them ‘Sprinkle the canvas
with stardust’, and dream for a while,
Stare up at the screen with a beam of a smile,
Entranced by the costumes screaming in style,
Believing the lot, not a gleam of denial

I learnt similar lessons in different ways,
The topic of death at a difficult age,
My Girl destroyed me, my big brother cried,
And I still s**t myself when a bee buzzes by,
My boys Bill & Ted, they lightened the mood,
They faced the Grim Reaper, a frightening dude,
Eschewed the morbidity, even in hell,
Played him at Battleships, beat him as well

Then along came Pixar and drawing was dead,
They ripped up the rulebook, tore it to shreds,
And before we knew it, toys were alive,
Clownfish were missing and houses could fly,
Technical wizardry, visual art,
And beautiful scripts with incredible heart

I was too young to watch my ol’ man’s favourites,
Intrigued by gangsters and violent behaviour,
‘To watch all that shooting, you must be grown!’
So we met in the middle with Bugsy Malone,
Spoofing a genre that I’d never seen,
Straight over my head, guns full of cream!
Wit and panache from the opening scene,
With Fat Sam the terror and Jodie the Queen

The splurging continued into my teens,
HMV raided, no criminal streams,
Clearing out aisles with minimal means,
By swapping Sale stickers, a cynical scheme

I’d go on a road trip with Harry and Lloyd
and Petey the budgie, sadly devoid of a noggin
because it fell into the void,
Then draw out some ligers, mythical beasts,
Do Rex Kwon-Do to Jamiroquai beats,
Take some sweet jumps in slapstick style,
Afro on point, chapsticks for miles

Then I met Donnie and Frank the rabbit,
And learned abnormality’s fine if you grab it
with both hands, and challenge the trends,
Suburban decay through a Lynchian lens,
Then I’d sink in the Thames with Big Luca Brasi,
Old enough now to view all the nasties,
Violence and sex, bazookas and arsecheeks,
Sitting there grinning, strapped in like a carseat

The arthouse came knocking, hipster heaven,
Couldn’t put me in a box like Gwyneth in Seven,
Bonjour Amelie, oh hi Oh Dae-Su,
Yes I like calamari, how about you?
In the corner, Russell is bitterly strumming,
We’d better get out of here, Little Ze’s coming,
I want to stay in The Grand Budapest Hotel,
Doused in cologne, the zestiest smell,
Forget the rest of the world, lounge in bed like Lennon,
Any room’s great, except 237

I got carried away there, adventurous rover,
Straight down the rabbit hole, fiction took over,
Sometimes real stories are needed to show you
that we are all human in need of a shoulder
to cry on, or just find some support,
Amy showed me that life can be short,
Work hard for your dreams but be wise to the thought,
That vulnerability dies on the spot
when you’re famous, it isn’t the case,
So many losses, a pitiful waste,
Sugar Man vanished, no physical trace,
Invisible cloak, left a cynical place,
Came back from the dead with formidable grace,
And warmed all our hearts, left a grin on our face

My typical taste shifted slightly,
TV got better, did it despite the
restrictions of fiction revisited nightly,
They slow-burned the scripts, fiddled them tightly,
Took antiheroes, got into the psyche,
Made characters count whether little or mighty,
And let Tony Soprano make you piddle your nightie

It’s safe to say he’s a little bit feisty,
Emotional blunderbuss riddled with spite
he belittled his wife, destroyed adversaries,
Did what he liked and inspired so many
characters ravaged by their inner hell,
Vic Mackey to Walter, straight through Stringer Bell

And just when you thought that you knew the routine,
Ned got the chop, and nobody screamed,
It didn’t seem real til they showed you his face,
And from that point onward, no one was safe,
Despite the warning, they lured you back in,
A vengeful hero, scourger of sin,
Girl by his side, led by his mother,
I watched the Red Wedding, and never recovered

Then I switch off, have a tea and a wafer,
Life seems mundane, but it also seems safer,
Gogglebox watchers, please do me a favour,
Shun this debacle, don’t let them enslave you,
Engage in stories, sensational tales,
Don’t sit in silence, painting your nails,
Watching a family wasting their vowels,
Demand something better, look what HBO did,
It’s just gone too meta, my brain has exploded,
So when I feel crummy, I go with the fellows,
To the land of Bill Murray and exploding marshmallows

Sean Stapleton released his first poetry collection, The Rhyme Capsule, in the UK in 2018. Not too long afterwards, he found himself packing a suitcase and heading to Medellin Colombia on an expedition to gather rhyme ammo. This 18 month mission was cut short by COVID 19, but was successful nevertheless.

Sean has been a movie lover for some time, and can’t wait to be immersed in a dark room again.

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