In the 1990s, Bravo was a cable network that didn’t have a reputation. When my cable provider first began offering the network, it was not known as a haven for reality programming (such programming had hardly constituted a recognizable genre by that point—something like MTV’s The Real World still retained an aura of authenticity). Rather, it appealed to me because it seemed to buck popular orthodoxy. It showed old movies. As a teenager, my definition for “old” was clearly wanting: “old” meant anything made before I was born, meaning anything produced during the gray and obscure years of the early 1980s (or before).
By this point, I was well on the path to cinephilia, despite not knowing the meaning of the word. What’s more, had I been accused of cinephilia, I would have probably giggled at the word’s seeming relation to necrophilia (though the cinephile and necrophile, I now understand, aren’t so far off: both have an irrational love for a dead object). The years 1998-2000 were key for my formation of an intellectual sensibility. I was ending middle school and starting high school. Some of my tastes remained resolutely and unapologetically populist: I believe I got a copy of Doom II that year, and remember wasting (was it wasting?) a large chunk of the car ride of our summer vacation from that year reading about episodes of The Simpsons. Read more