Sunday, March 07, 2010

Why Do Movie Theaters Exist?

It’s Oscar Night again. And again I won’t be tuning in to see the Hollywood Glitteratti preen in front of the cameras one more time.

I really don’t care who wins what or which film gets the nod as the best above the rest. If something happens like a Kanye West moment or a Sacheen Littlefeather speech I’ll see it tomorrow on You Tube.

I wasn’t always this way. This is a fairly new thing. I just don’t go to the movie theaters anymore like I used to.

And today a strange thought came to me: Why do movie theaters even exist anymore?


When was the last time you went to a video arcade? When was the last time you even saw one? The video arcade, a phenomenon that sprang up in the 70’s and saw its heyday in the 80’s has largely vanished. Vanished with the advent of online gaming, Playstations, X-boxes, Wiis, and whatnot. American youth like their entertainment but now anything you could once do at a video arcade you can now do at home.

Except for “Pole Position.” I was a demon for “Pole Position.”

So now we are entertained at home with video games of any sort, and video arcades went the way of the penny arcade. And really, the same can be said for the viewing of feature films at home. Today’s home entertainment systems, with advanced sound systems and wall-spanning plasma screens really and truly meet or exceed the quality of watching a film on the big screen.

OK, OK, I know why movie theaters have not vanished off the face of the earth like video arcades. It’s all about what’s new. It is all about creating a market by creating an artificial shortage. It’s all about when the films are released in DVD/Blu-Ray, isn’t it?

And it’s all about Americans who have a penchant for wanting to see the latest new thing. A penchant, I imagine, husbanded and cultivated by the motion picture industry.

And it’s all about attention span.

As motion pictures and the entertainment industry flourishes, American attention span withers. We don’t file away in our minds films we’d like to see when they come out on DVD, we don’t have minds like that anymore. When a new film is released, we must see it now, while we are thinking about it.

That says something about us as a people, as a culture. It also says something about our ability to learn and retain knowledge when we attend school.

Say . . . I think I’m on to something.

But I forgot what it was.

Oh well.

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