NERD RANT: Movie Theaters and the need to occasional unplug from a wired life.

This may be one of the saddest things I've read in ages. (H/T to Devin Faraci at "Badass Digest.")

In my 20s I went to a lot of movies. Now, not so much. Over the past two years becoming a parent has been the main cause but really my lack of interest in the theater experience started way before that. Some people dislike going to the movies because of price or crowds, but for me it was more of a lifestyle decision. Increasingly I wanted my media experiences plugged in and with the ability to multitask. Look up the cast list online, tweet out a comment, talk to others while watching or just work on something else while Superman played in the background. Of course these activities are discouraged and/or impossible in a movie theater.

But why? Instead of driving people like me away from the theater, why not just segregate us into environments which meet our needs. I’d love to watch Pacific Rim in a theater with a bit more light, wifi, electricity outlets and a second screen experience. Don’t tell me I’d miss major plot points while scrolling on my ipad – it’s a movie about robots vs monsters. I can follow along just fine.

The above was written by a man named Hunter Walk who describes himself as... 

Current: Partner @Homebrew. Seed stage venture fund serving founders who enable individuals and small biz to think big. Brewed in SF. Enjoyed nationwide. Find us at Homebrew.co 
Previously: Led consumer product management at YouTube, delivering billions of playbacks a day across computers, phones, tablets and TVs. Joined Google in 2003 managing product and sales efforts for Google’s contextual advertising business. Founding member of the product and marketing team at Linden Lab, the creators of online virtual world Second Life.

I have no doubt that Mr. Walk is a very bright gentlemen who is very knowledgable about finances and tech stuff.  He probably has a thousand times the earning power that I do. And he's got a wife and kid so he's definitely got me beat in the "having sex on a regular basis" department.
I also have no doubt that Mr. Walk knows fuck all about movies and how they work.

I own a PS3.
Yes, I play games on it but I also watch movies on it thanks to my Netflix and Hulu Plus apps. 
I like the fact that the same machine I play "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" on also allows me to watch Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" and "Juliet of the Spirits".  (And also "The Avengers". It can't be all high art.) Hell, I'm tickled by that.
I have the the cream of world cinema at my fingertips. And that makes my life awesome.
What's not so awesome is the surroundings.
Yes, I can watch the movie but distractions abound.  Sometimes, it's a phone call.  Sometimes, a text message from a friend.  Hell, sometimes, it's that you haven't eaten all day and you have to pause the film just as Moria Shearer begins her Dance of The Red Shoes to make a damn sandwich.
And that's the down side of watching a movie at home, life intervenes.
And that's why I still, not as often as I like because of the expense, see a movie in a theater.  So I can see it without life crowding in.
I made mention of "The Red Shoes" earlier.  It's one of my favorite films.  I have the Criterion Blu-Ray in my collection and it is a stunning transfer of the recent Martin Scorsese supervised restoration.
  And I can watch it any time I want. Anytime!
And if you told me tomorrow that the Varsity Theater (One of the two local theaters we have here in Ashland.) was showing "The Red Shoes" in a decent print, I would be their opening night.
Because the ideal place to see "The Red Shoes" is a movie theater.  Surrounded by people who love it or are about to love it.

Again, let return to something Mr. Walk says. 

I’d love to watch Pacific Rim in a theater with a bit more light, wifi, electricity outlets and a second screen experience. Don’t tell me I’d miss major plot points while scrolling on my ipad – it’s a movie about robots vs monsters. I can follow along just fine.

And this is the section that proves that Mr. Walk knows nothing about movies or how they work.
 Movies are not just plot points!
Let me say that a little louder.
 MOVIES ARE NOT JUST PLOT POINTS!!
 
Movies are the combination of several different disciplines. Acting, Writing, Direction, Photography, Set design, sound.
When all these things are combined, they can create an experience that no other art form can provide. 
But here's the thing, you have to be open to that experience. 
Some Christian churches have something called Transubstantiation. It's... 

the doctrine that, in the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and the wine used in the sacrament is literally, not merely as by a sign or a figure, but in actual reality as well,[1][2] changed into the substance of theBody and the Blood of Jesus,[3] while all that is accessible to the senses (the physical[citation needed] appearances - species[4][5][6] in Latin) remains unchanged.[7][8] What remains unaltered is also referred to as the "accidents" of the bread and wine,[9] but this term is not used in the official definition of the doctrine by the Council of Trent.[10]
The Eastern Orthodox ChurchOriental Orthodox Church, and Church of the East have sometimes used the term "transubstantiation" (metousiosis); however, terms such as "divine mystery", "trans-elementation" (μεταστοιχείωσις metastoicheiosis), "re-ordination" (μεταρρύθμισις metarrhythmisis), or simply "change" (μεταβολή) are more common among them and they consider the change from bread and wine to flesh and blood a "Mystery".

Yes, you are simply eating crackers and drinking wine.  But if you are open to the mystery of the ritual, you will feel the blood and body of Christ enter you. (That's the theory, anyway.)
When you enter a movie theater, you are participating in a ritual with a group of people.  And if you are open and receptive, that film you are watching will affect and change you.
 (Some may argue that most films won't give you that experience to which I would retort "Neither would most religions" but that another post for another time...and another blog.) 
And by saying that he wants to be in a movie theater where he can text and tweet and the other thing, Mr. Walk is essentially admitting that he has no interest in participating in that ritual.  He has no interest in transcendence. He is quite happy with his wine and crackers, thank you very much. And that is his right.
But the rest of us?  We want to be changed.  We want the experience.
I do not believe in God.  
But I do believe in movies.
And the last thing I want in the middle of my Hosanna is some dill weed texting his accountant.

Posted on August 8, 2013 .