The Value in Still Going to the Movies
No matter when you find yourself reading this – be it today or years from now – it remains a moral imperative that you (yes, YOU) continue to get up, get out and GO TO THE MOVIES. Sure, there now exist home-entertainment systems that are beyond fantastic and televisions the size of billboards in Times Square, but what those may provide within the confines of your own little domicile, they still cannot offer what movie theatres have for more than a century: a communal experience with friends and strangers alike.
Similar to concerts, live theatre, and sporting events, going to the movies is still an important part of what makes us a semi-functional society. Do not let the occasional, disrespectful goofball with the cell phone, or the ill-mannered yammering dolt keep you away from the movie house – that’s why God created ushers and tasers! If we give up our 6th Amendment* right to enjoy films publicly, then truly the “Courtesy-Terrorists” have won, and then I think everyone can agree, we all lose. Especially the children.
Even as I get older, going to the movies and sitting next to folks I don’t know can still be a fantastic experience. Soaking up and partaking in the audience’s reaction to a scary moment is priceless; it lets you know that we share similar emotions and feelings about the character in jeopardy. Hearing the sniffles and muddled sobs of fellow movie lovers when a scene is sad or devastating allows you to become even less guarded while sitting in this public venue. And to cheer along with those around you when a nasty villain finally gets his or her comeuppance will surely put a smile on your face. Unless you’re dead inside. Or a Michael Bay fan.
A movie theatre remains one of the few places within society where you can share all types of emotions and experiences without being too self-conscious. The theatre is dark and the sound is just loud enough so that your reaction – though audible – doesn’t place a figurative spotlight on you. Much like the womb, a movie theatre is The Place for comfort, food, and safety (though, unlike the womb, it is large enough for hundreds of people and comes with cup holders). The theatre allows you to forget your own personal dilemmas or issues for a couple of hours. And if the movie you just saw was terrible, chances are you can happily commiserate with those around you as you all exit the theatre; yet another way for strangers to find similar ground in an otherwise often-too-divided world.
I’m not suggesting that everything is always perfect when you head out and go to the movies, but when you do, you’re still making a conscious, well-meaning choice to be a part of something. You’re telling yourselves, the people who run the movie theatre, and those who made the film, that you think it’s worth it to give this particular experience a chance. You’re not allowing traffic, high prices, or the occasional rude dude to beat you down or keep you from that wonderful, unique experience of sitting in the dark and watching a hopefully well-told story unfold before you.
Our movie theatres are meant to be sacred cathedrals for both the big-budget movie and the smaller, more intimate film. It lies with us to keep these theatres open for us to gather and experience these cinematic journeys. People have been participating in movie-watching together since the late Nineteenth century and, with our effort, they will continue to do so far into the future.
*Author’s Note: While the 6th Amendment does not actually cover our right to enjoy a movie-viewing publicly, it does guarantee that within all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed. And popcorn. Lots of buttered popcorn.