Picture this: You’re sorting through masses of DVDs: you’re keeping some while others are destined for the thrift store.
Then you ask yourself, why have you lost your enthusiasm for these movies? Why isn’t your imagination being grabbed by films as much as it used to be in the past?
If you’re like me, you might not have even realized that your enthusiasm for movies is waning. I blame technology, at least in part. It’s not the good old days. I’m sure watching movies used to be more fun…
Looking for a distraction? Caption this photo. Enjoy! pic.twitter.com/g3kK9H4ZAm
— Jenna Fischer (@jennafischer) September 4, 2015
PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones: we’ve got more screens than windows, and yes, that’s a worrying development. Distractions, uh, distract us. It’s in their job description. The Internet has been a major distraction since it first became accessible in our homes, but many of us find further things to grab us – namely, social media.
Anyone peering at profiles, flicking through feeds, and tittering at Tumblr aren’t keeping their minds on the film. It’ll only lead to “why’s he doing that?” conversations (and occasional fisticuffs). People seldom turn off Notifications, but few things are that urgent. If someone’s suddenly taken ill, they’re not going to tag you in a photo with the caption, “Going to the ER!”
Twitter causes insomnia, it has become the most common sleep distraction in the world.
— Fact (@Fact) August 31, 2015
In those heady pre-social network days (I call them “The Nineties”), the biggest distraction was your brother’s excessive use of denim, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ringtone you just learnt how to add to your brick of a cellphone. Hollywood had to rely on its own ingenuity to publicize its movies, instead of causing a storm on Twitter by throwing hashtags at you.
All that was needed was a hook. Greta Garbo caused a storm when making the transition from silent films to ‘talkies’; a map of the McCallister household, complete with traps, appeared in comic books to promote Home Alone (1990); and heck, in an unusual twist, Transformers: The Movie (1986) was made to publicize action figures!
They all encouraged you to engage with the film, whereas marketing these days wants you to turn away and promote it yourself by making a message go viral. It’s odd that the movie industry now actively inspires you to turn away from one screen in favor of another.
So put down your smartphone, and dedicate some time to what you’re watching. It’s only a couple of hours: someone’s duckface will be waiting for you on Facebook regardless of when you log on.
Now in Two Dimensions!
People were enamored by seeing an astronaut throw an orange at your face. You could reach out and almost touch it. Amazing.
Then the nature of 3D changed. It’s not about the IMAX experience any more: it’s seeing blockbusters split into different layers. Not so amazing. Worse than that, it gives some people headaches, as if that orange has indeed collided with your face. And you have to pay extra. There are very few movies that are actually worth watching in 3D.
ET never needed 3D. Neither did Star Wars or The Godfather or Ghostbusters. Nobody watched It’s A Wonderful Life and thought, “You know what would make this better? Three-dimensional angels”.
3D movies… For when you want to spend 15 dollars for a headache
— —- pen (@BRADtookmyname) October 13, 2015
Storytelling hasn’t got lazier – there are still top-notch writers, directors, and producers raised with a love of quality productions – but instead, it’s become distilled by how we’re experiencing it. It’s hard to be captivated by character development when trying to focus on the whole picture: quite often you’ll notice more about a film when watching it in 2D. That might be down to conditioning, how we’re used to seeing it, but that’s nevertheless how we feel easiest. Why fight that?
Over-saturation reduced something actually quite wonderful into the everyday, the boring, and worst of all, the distracting. When everything is extraordinary, nothing is. We’ve become jaded by 3D. It pulls you out of the story just as much as dodgy CG (Computer Graphics). You can become too preoccupied by how a film has been optimized for this new gimmick to fully take in the nuances of a tale.
The answer is, of course, to not watch 3D movies. If production companies realize that 3D isn’t giving them enough financial reward, such contrivances will become extinct.
Sit Down and Focus
This isn’t about that film with Will Smith and Margot Robbie. This is actually about focusing on a film, especially when it’s screened on television.
Thanks to streaming and rolling movie channels, you can watch any movie at any time. Don’t get me wrong: having all of this content easily available to us is incredible, but it does mean we’ve become over-familiar with the medium. Though services offer you the chance to rewind films to their beginning, the masses are typically content with figuring it out as they go along.
But you can’t get carried away with a tale if you start midway through.
If you could pop into a time machine and go back to the 1950s and 1960s, you would see families huddled around the television, amazed at the wonders of Doctor Who and Muffin the Mule. Soon, Disney movies came to stations, entertaining the nation on public holidays. Yep, before DVRs (Digital Video Recorders), we just had to sit down and watch. Need the toilet? Well, you’re just going to have to miss a few minutes. That was the downside.
The upside was that most simply crossed their legs for a bit, so engrossed in a film that even bodily functions couldn’t detract from the main show.
Devote some time to something you want to see. Set aside one evening a week or make Sunday “Movie Day”. Go to the cinema. If enough people were willing to properly invest, you wouldn’t keep seeing ominous “death of cinema” pieces.
Finding Fault Was Niche
Do you really care that in one scene from The Wizard of Oz (1939), Dorothy’s not wearing her ruby-red slippers? It doesn’t affect the movie itself!
We’re undoubtedly drawn to criticism and cynicism. I’m not above admitting it: pointing out The Bad Stuff is this article’s core selling point. It’s why reviews exist.
However, there’s a widespread phenomenon, perpetuated by certain websites: the look-at-what-we’ve-spotted attention-seekers who take joy in pointing out a movie’s faults and explores why such-and-such is utter nonsense. They are not fans. Give it a chance first. Don’t let someone else’s lack of enthusiasm get you down.
Pointing out the “meta” bits, “what the director meant” and how the Stormtrooper hit his head on the door was what fandom did. These were mates who loved a film but weren’t blind to mistakes. The Internet, however, has given rise to a counter-culture intent on superiority and negativity.
The difference is one group saying, “We love movies despite their faults”, while the other argues, “We don’t like this movie because of its faults.” Fandom versus critics, essentially. Comments sections are littered with folk who want their grievances aired, and this encourages further habitual negativity.
Don’t scout out those “biggest movie mistakes” articles!
Even advanced reviews taint features, whether it’s a film or TV show. Even if it’s a movie you love, there’s a fault you can’t help but notice because it’s been pointed out to you by a complete stranger. The equivalent is someone in the cinema shouting “that would never happen because artificial intelligence can’t break the Three Laws of Robotics!”
Want to see the new Fantastic Four? Order it. Stay away from customer reviews on Amazon if it’s something you want to see regardless. Make your own mind up before consulting online.
How Will You Learn to Love Film Again?
Remember this romantic scene from Love Actually? pic.twitter.com/GawCpGsT6t
— BuzzFeed UK (@BuzzFeedUK) October 3, 2015
Many of us live in the past, but we’ve got to face facts: the movie industry has changed, as has the technology surrounding us in our homes. But you, and only you, can reignite that passion for films.
What favorite movies do you love revisiting? What do you do to take yourself back to those days when you could enjoy a movie without being drawn to social media? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.