all images ©missyweimer 2017

all content ©missyweimer 2017

Monday, January 4, 2016

Watching American Cult Classics with my Turkish Husband: An introduction

Since this will be a semi-regular installment on my blog, let me give you a little info:

About a year ago, I moved to Turkey. In September, I got married to my Turkish/Kurdish husband. He has never been to the United States. İnşallah, he will get his visa in the next
few weeks and we will go together. He has a very high level of English proficiency and has for many years. In fact, like most of my friends here, he speak a number of languages. Like many people in other parts of the world (not the USA) they have been exposed to the many strange incarnations of lost in translation American Pop culture (more on that later) and he has seen tons of Hollywood movies.

Shameless take a walk on the Westside - image from fanpop
It's true that people are essentially the same everywhere - we eat, sleep, struggle and strive to find meaning and fulfillment in our varied lives and then - we die. Most of my life I have lived in big cities, which share many urban commonalities. Maybe for this reason, as an artist, I have always trained my eye to the sometimes very subtle differences. My husband and I love to laugh and discuss the many interesting cultural confusions (which I have written about here) but there are still times when I feel a bit homesick.

My homesickness manifests itself in a surprising way, namely, a yearning to watch old movies and any TV show filmed in Chicago (with the exception of Prison Break and the Lake House). Growing up, I had a notoriously short attention span while sedentary and consequently didn't watch much TV. In fact, before I went to college, where I dated a film major, I could only recall ever seeing two movies in a movie theater:

1. E.T. (1982) which must have been a re-release because I was only 3 years old then. It's also possible that this is some sort of made-up memory. I guess we'll never know.

2. The Bodyguard (1992) starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Huston (RIP).

While I may have seen more movies than that, I have zero recall of them. Lucky for me, art school was great place to catch up on movie watching. There, I saw everything from Koyaanisqatsi (1982) to Schizopolis (1996) to William Wegman's early films from the 1970s (some of his best work in my opinion).

I spent the first 30 years of my life in the American Mid-west (Chicago) and later moved to California. I was raised in the 80s, I have pale skin, brown hair, green eyes and a middle class upbringing. In my new life, half way across the globe, sometimes I want something to assure me that the world of my childhood existed, because I don't see the remnants of it here.

Last winter, just after I arrived in Turkey, I watched all of Shameless, which is filmed in and around my old neighborhoods in Chicago. As the brilliant Kathy Acker said in Empire of the Senseless, “When you reside in a city which isn't the city of your childhood, whatever you perceive lacks the resonance of memory.” It's
Shameless on the CTA. Image from reader101
true, the buildings and familiar streets feel like a hug. I watch these shows alone and I let their resonance wash over me.
However, I have made a list of movies which I have decided that my husband must see. Since he has never been to the U.S. and gotten the “On the left, you can see my High School...” tour, he must see these movies so that he can better understand me. These cult classics and oddball flicks are what I want to share with him. Movies which were/are less likely to make their way to international audiences.

While sitting at our desks in our shared office/studio I will blurt out. "Download Goonies! And 16 Candles. Aaaaannnnndddd Dazed and Confused and Friday. Heathers, and the Virgin Suicides...." you get the idea. So far, I have had a pretty good time making him watch these films and then forcing him to discuss them with me later.

The first installment is Heathers (1989), coming soon.
Trucks Triptych, from the series Lake. Sky. Vans, 2004. On display and For Sale at WolfBait & B-Girls in Chicago.

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