Inside II

Published in Film and TV - 4 mins to read

At the weekend I watched Inside again, and I think it deserves a follow up post, especially as I don’t feel like I did it justice the first time round. There are some minor spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t watched it yet then you should do so as a matter of urgency before reading on.

Firstly, there is some stuff I completely misinterpreted the first time round, namely his song about being problematic. Somehow I didn’t pick up on that being satire until viewing numero dos, and when I got it, it made a lot more sense and it was probably one of my favourite bits. It felt good to see Bo take a swipe against people who do the whole public-martyrdom-born-of-pure-narcissism thing, when it seems like nobody else will for fear of drawing the ire of the public.

I couldn’t figure out the shot where he projects a video of himself talking about suicide onto his own chest while playing absent-mindedly on his phone either, although not for lack of trying. I think there are a couple of things he could be getting at here - firstly that it’s a comment on the dangers of parasocial relationships that replace meaningful support with lowest common denominator platitudes. Secondly it could be that while in some ways mental health has become less of a taboo subject, perhaps especially during the pandemic, we still shy away from talking about anything other than fairly run-of-the-mill anxiety and depression. It still feels like most people don’t want to engage with a serious conversation about suicide.

I think there is a lot of genius in the both the short songs about Jeffrey Bezos. They’re very simple and Bo doesn’t even say that much about Bezos, largely repeating his name, nothing he says is overtly negative and even the lines that are mockery would be relatively tame out of context. In context however, somehow the fact that Bo has chosen to devote two songs specifically to be carry Bezos' name, regardless of content, are the most damning indictment Bo could possible give him. It’s clear he thinks Bezos is an utterly deplorable lizard-person, and I find it hard to disagree.

Bo makes a lot of obvious criticisms about the issues with parasocial relationships and their prevalence today, but he makes a lot of more subtle ones too, perhaps reflecting that he thinks its a nuanced issue. Given his personality and recent extended break from the public eye, I wonder if a lot of his commentary on the relationships between consumers and creators of content is a function of his discomfort at the idea of people feeling personally connected to him through his work, rather than a blanket statement that the internet has blurred the boundaries between friends and entertainers. Throughout the special he makes no attempt to hide that he struggles with the idea of being a creator or an entertainer himself, and many of the songs and bits are explicitly about how difficult he finds that role. While he outlines many of the components of the problem as he sees it, there’s one he doesn’t necessarily address head-on, but is also abundantly obvious from watching the show - he is a perfectionist in the extreme. Inside is perfect, every little detail is in place, everything has been meticulously practiced, curated and crafted by Bo himself, it is an artisanal piece of media. Without the pandemic forcing someone to stay inside on their own for so long, I’m not sure how anyone could spend so much time perfecting anything without losing their mind, which clearly Bo nearly did. It’s almost absurd how well polished the special is. I don’t think I mentioned it in the first post, because I didn’t want to acknowledge it - I’m not sure this kind of perfectionism should be rewarded. Obviously Bo was not mentally healthy during the time he created Inside, but the perfectionism adds an extra layer to that - nobody should hold themselves to that kind of standard, ever, it’s leagues past unsustainable.

But, still, he made it all the same, and it’s perfect. And you should go watch it, even if it’s for the second time.

See other posts in the Inside series