9.3 Alone in the Dark
From as long as I can remember, I always enjoyed going to the movies. All during my 20s, I saw a movie almost every week, most of the time by myself. I loved sitting alone, waiting for the lights to dim. I loved watching the trailers for upcoming movies. Not that long ago before the internet, the trailers were the only way to find out what was coming soon.Once the movie started, we were all equal in the dark - it didn’t matter if you came with your significant other, friends or by yourself. I never felt lonely watching movies in the theatre, on the contrary, I felt a strong sense of community. All of us strangers, yet communally taking part in the same activity.
Something has changed as of late.
More often than not, I’m much happier staying home and watching what I want, when I want, and with no commercials. This is nothing new, as more and more people are opting to stay away from the theatre, movies seem to be getting dumber and dumber. A generalization, I understand, but one that is justified by checking the latest showtimes of any random theatre.
What has changed?
What happened to just plain old popcorn? Now people are bringing in all sorts of disgustingly smelly foods bought at the many convenient stands in the foyer. Do you really need to bring an entire meal into the theatre? Can’t you eat dinner beforehand?
My mom told me recently that she went to see a movie with a friend and sitting in the theatre before it started, she got a whiff of something revolting. She noticed a man sitting a few rows down and leaned over to see what he was doing. She watched in horror as he removed one sardine after another from a jar, slurping each one down his throat.
I don’t have any kids and so don’t understand the time requirements that come with rearing children. I imagine that you must miss out on things. Being judgmental is part of my personality, so excuse how this is going to sound.
I took my nephew to see the latest Star Wars movie and was confused by the seating. After reserving our seats online, we climbed all the way to the top past giant easy chairs. These easy chairs even had foot rests that sprung out from below and people took clear advantage of this, many even taking their shoes off. They realize we’re in public, right? Why are they taking their shoes off?
We took our seats and had a few spare ones beside us. A man and his young son came and sat beside us. After the trailers started, a woman entered the theatre carrying a baby. Like, a new born baby. As soon as I saw her, I thought, That baby is coming to sit right next to me. And of course, it did. And of course, the baby did what you would think a baby would do when being exposed to a giant screen of flashing lights and an incredibly loud soundtrack.
Being the insensitive type I am, I kept wondering why anyone would think this was a good idea. Yes, I understand that both parents wanted to see the new Star Wars movie, however, perhaps they could have tag teamed? They could have taken their young son twice - once with dad and another time with mom, sans baby.
If I haven’t been sounding like a tired old man yet, here you go. Again, people know they are out in public, right? Last year, I went to see the movie Get Out and it was packed. People above and to the right of us kept trying to guess what was about to happen, “I think that police officer is a bad guy.” People above and to the left were about five minutes behind, “So, in that previous scene, was the brother being a creep or was he just drunk?”
So, the people above and to the right were in the future, we were in the present and the people above and to the left were in the past.
During all the mind numbing and unnecessary three hours of the new Blade Runner movie, a couple behind us talked non-stop as she kept having to explain what was happening to her boyfriend. Yes, sometimes a movie can be incoherent and attempt to justify this by masquerading as high art, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to you explain it to your dumb boyfriend.
Perhaps you could file this blog entry under an unofficial series called “I’m getting too old for that”, but also, how about we just stop acting like the movie theatre is our home? Maybe this is some twisted approach by theatre chains to align the experience with watching something in the comfort of your own home. Sadly, I used to think of the movie theatre as a sacred space, one that was to be respected. My ideal situation is to be in a theatre with a few other people so we don’t have to be near each other, which is essentially just like being home. But also, maybe I’m just getting too old for it.