“Oh, be careful little eyes what you see.”
The song kept ringing in my ears. The words seemed to be on an endless loop in my head. A simple melody. A children’s tune with delightful gestures: small hands covering smaller eyes, fingers pointing to “our Father up above who’s looking down in love.” A wonderfully simple message and—for me—a difficult reminder: Be careful what you see.
I couldn’t wait to watch Outlander, the Starz television drama based on the book series of the same name. I loved the book. I loved the concept of stepping back in time. I enjoyed wrestling with the notion of changing time, struggling with the foreknowledge of events in time—good and bad. I watched the free preview of Episode 1 several times.
With Season 2 unfolding on Sunday nights, I used my DVR to grab the “Encore” episodes from Season 1. I watched episode after episode, becoming more and more distraught, but hoping against hope that the series I wanted would be the series I’d get. By the time I got to the final episode in the first season, I had to stop the recording midway through. Feeling overwhelmed, I deleted all my saved recordings.
Unfairly, I wanted Outlander to be a Downton Abbey-esque version of Diana Gabaldon’s book, a Jane Austen travel-in-time adventure. Watching unspeakable acts of violence and difficult sexual encounters, I shook my head, wondering how it had taken me thirteen hours to realize the series was not for me. I winced, knowing there would be images forever seared in my mind. I cringed, knowing the recordings could be erased, but not the horrific scenes of hate, the sadistic moments of cruelty, sex scenes that verged on the gratuitous.
Gabaldon’s series is well-written. The books are true page-turners with an engaging plot. I just chose to remember the good and forget the more graphic. On the big screen, there was no turning away and that just didn’t work for me.
Saturday night I watched Brooklyn, a story about a young woman’s immigration to the United States. Sunday afternoon I watched Becoming Jane, a biographical film about Jane Austen’s early life. I’m no prude, but I know what my eyes can see. I know when I need to step back, step away, step aside. I know life is not an Austen novel of beautiful people, romantic adventures, misunderstandings that get resolved by the last chapter. I also know I don’t need to see it in color on the big screen to know it.