Brian: I became yearbook photographer because I liked the idea that I could sort of watch life without having to be part of it. But when you're yearbook photographer, you're, like, never in the picture.
Most people may no remember where the above line comes from. Especially considering that it came from a short-lived series in the 90s that introduced the waking world to one Claire Danes. My So-Called life was emo even before emo was a word. Perhaps the failure of the show was due to honesty in it's dialog. Unlike shows like Dawson's Creek or One Tree Hill, it didn't have the eloquence that made characters seem more engaging or more world-weary than their supposed age. Instead we are subjected to poorly constructed Valley Girl English, full of "ums" and "like" which felt awkward yet honest and authentic. Of course, this meant that the tension was surreal and hardly fit for entertainment. Despite everything, the show had it's moments, and I tried to religiously watch it every chance I got.
It wasn't long before that one season would end with the show getting canceled due to low ratings. It then proceeded to fade into obscurity with Ms. Danes' claim to fame being more recognized as a slew of movies which included a reimagination of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and the big screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust. Still, like most young teens at that time, I was looking for answers in the wrong places, particularly more interested in the leading female protagonist who was, as that time, a rising star. Looking back, it seemed silly, but re-reading the quotes from the show with the help of wikiquote.org put the show in a new light.
I specifically looked for the lines shown at the top of the post because it was one of the snippets of dialog that stuck to me. Brian Krakow (Devon Gummersall) played the token Nerg/Loser Guy for the show, who was secretly in love with the main protagonist Angela Chase (Claire Danes). The borrowed lines served as the opening narration wherein Brian shows just how much on an outsider he feels, yet seems to enjoy it despite the bittersweet predicament he usually finds himself in.
Personally, the concept of viewing life merely as an observer has its merits. The methapor is exquisitely sound since it's a matter of capturing moments without being part of them. Simply watching allows us to see moments as they happen, observe and guess what goes on through the lives of people without suffering the consequences. We save ourselves from the responsbilities of each action, viewing solely to judge, assess, and study; shielded from the negativities of these interactions such as heartbreak, sorrow, or pain. A welcome reprieve for many, but a huge price to pay if one considers the fine print.
At the same time however, we lose out on feeling the joy, the glory and the affection of such moments. Seeing happiness in people and realizing the pure joy that they're expressing isn't the same as feeling and experiencing it firsthand. The realization is empty and devoid of meaning. Simply put, we cannot expect to recieve such blessings without going through the hardships and the struggles that come with it. Otherwise all we have are hallow observations that lack the understanding of what such moments are truly about, a mere shell of that reality, a S0-Called Life so to speak.
Stepping back and playing behind the scenes is nice if looking for perspective, but all it offers is a look into a world without your influence. Step in, act, and react. Otherwise, succumb to the void and live in a world filled with glass borders where you get to simply watch life unfold and be powerless to affect it.