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While smartphones have had some awesome effects, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to our pocket devices. Some people are addicted to their phones, and some argue that smartphones are ruining users’ lives.
Even if you don’t struggle with using your phone too much, it’s hard to deny that these devices have had an irreversible effect on other spheres of life. Let’s take a look at just one example: movies.
Thanks to smartphones…
Movie Theaters Can Be Annoying
It’s a problem as old as cellphones themselves: you go to the cinema to see the latest blockbuster, and some idiot in front of you takes a phone call and chatters for 20 minutes. These disturbances are a huge reason movie theater attendance is on the decline, but smartphones have made this problem even worse.
Instead of calling someone, people who aren’t interested in watching the movie surf aimlessly on their smartphones instead, checking Facebook or doing who knows what else. Of course, these jerks never have the courtesy to turn their brightness down, resulting in a reduced fun factor for everyone else in the movie theater.
We have previously examined how to make theater phone-checking less annoying, but do everyone a favor: if you’re going to spend $7 or more to go see a movie, get your money’s worth and keep your phone stowed away in your pocket for two hours. If you’re really addicted, use it as an exercise to work on your attention span. Everyone else will thank you, and perhaps people will start going to cinemas again.
Jerry's GF texts in the movies but acts like it's okay because she sits in the last row. GF:Who am I bothering?! J:Me! You're bothering me!
— Modern Seinfeld (@SeinfeldToday) February 10, 2015
We Watch Movies on Tiny Screens
Part of the appeal of services like Netflix is that they have apps for almost any device. No matter if you’re on a PC, smart TV, PlayStation 4, tablet, or smartphone, you can access its catalog of films and TV shows. However, this access has degraded the quality of your movie experience.
Blu-Rays and other “full HD” media have provided a viable alternative to the aggravation of the cinema; these are typically viewed on a big-screen TV that allows the viewer to take in all the details of the film.
Now, most people are content with watching a full-length film on their little smartphone screen, perhaps on a long ride or in the comfort of their own bed. Even when using phablets, watching a two-hour movie on your 6-inch screen can’t really be that enjoyable.
For one, your face has to be so close to the screen that you’ll be suffering from eye strain by the end. That’s not to mention that the picture has to be shrunk down – going from a 50-inch television set (or bigger) to a 6-inch phone (or smaller) makes a huge difference!
On your phone, you just aren’t going to get the same level of detail that you would watching it on a TV, and that hinders the experience that the filmmakers intended for viewers.
Major Plot Problems Often Arise
So far we’ve looked at how smartphones have affected us as viewers of movies, but the devices have also caused problems in the actual films themselves. You don’t have to look far to find examples of this. Such as how horror movies cheaply disables their characters from being able to use their phones with the “no service” excuse.
As a whole, though, smartphones have become a sort of “magic box” in movies. Need to hack a complex system that would probably take days in real life? It’s cracked in two minutes with a smartphone!
They never run out of battery power or get plagued by annoying notifications, and tracking and map features are often greatly exaggerated as well. Somehow, smartphones provide movie characters with others’ exact locations inside buildings and elsewhere that wouldn’t work in real life.
Essentially, smartphones are able to do anything in movies that the filmmakers want them to do, and that’s a problem since they’re a real-world object with limitations we’re all well aware of. This never happened with landline phones.
Do young folks in contemporary movies and TV shows use smartphones constantly? Last time I checked, not really.
— bmcnett (@bmcnett) November 17, 2014
Classic Movies Would Have Been Ruined
To wrap-up, let’s look at a few classic movies from the past that could have been ruined or greatly changed if the characters had been carrying smartphones.
In Memento, a man with no short-term memory searches for his wife’s killer using a system of Polaroid photos and body tattoos. With a smartphone, Leonard could have taken photos with a phone instead of the bulky camera, and wouldn’t have had to use tattoos. Instead, he could have chronicled his journey on Twitter or used Google Keep to take permanent notes. Ruined!
In Home Alone, a young boy is left at home while his family travels, a scenario that could have been completely avoided if Kevin had owned a smartphone. He would have called his family immediately, and even kept up with them via video chat. It’s safe to say this film firmly belongs in the 1990s. Ruined!
Which part of Home Alone 2 is harder for 12-year olds to understand, that NYC appears dangerous or that nobody has a smartphone?
— Conor Sen (@conorsen) December 10, 2014
In The Santa Clause, Scott Calvin accidentally witnesses Santa Claus die and unknowingly assumes his role, and some of his friends understandably refuse to believe Scott’s tale. However, had he and his son Charlie carried smartphones, they could have shot a Vine of their activities at the North pole, or live-streamed from the sleigh on Christmas Eve. Thus, clearing up the misconceptions right away. Ruined!
Furthermore, the plot of every single romantic movie in existence would be nullified if the separated lovers were able to send texts and poke each other on Facebook every day. What reason would there be for celebration when they finally meet again? Ruined!
Moviegoers Are Worse Off: Discuss!
As we have discovered, smartphones aren’t without their drawbacks. Unfortunately, as with most technologies, there is no going back from here, so we’re unlikely to see most of these trends reverse anytime soon.
Thankfully though, some theaters are cracking down on phone usage, and you can still choose to view your movies on a huge TV as they were meant to be seen. All we can do to tackle the other points raised here is hope that Hollywood picks up on the fact that smartphones aren’t magical. But let’s be honest – they’ll do whatever is necessary to advance the plot of their films however they want to.
And now it’s over to you. In your opinion, have smartphones affected movies for the better or worse? What other film plots would have been completely trashed by smartphones? Drop us a comment below and let’s expand on this list!
Image Credits: cinema screen with audience Via Shutterstock