When I was in high school it was very common for groups of friends to go to see movies together.
It was also common for my mother to make a remark like, “Why spend your time at a movie? There’s no interaction!”
I only did one or two visits a year to the movie theater back then. Still averaging that now, but in anticipation of my first post-baby visit, (and my first “date” since I-can’t-remember-when) I will list my reasons for watching movies not-alone.
- Quiet “being” time
- Yes, I know there are other types, but we enjoy having a variety of ice cream flavors too.
- A shared “experience”
- While it is all imaginary, it is, especially if well-told, a Story after all. And the purpose of a story is to understand or experience something by being put into it.
- It was Nora Whats-her-name (the directer of You’ve Got Mail and other things) who said the appeal (or even thrill) of romantic comedies isn’t in their originality. It’s in their ability to recreate for the viewer an echo of the excitement of her/his own experience, bringing the memory into sharper focus– recreating the emotional potency.
(I love that. I started paying attention and now think it’s largely true.)
- When I saw the first Pirates movie, I instantly knew I wanted to be with my dad when he saw Jack Sparrow coming into port at the beginning. I wanted to watch him watching that whole sequence that followed.
(Knowing him, I guessed he would enjoy it, and I suppose I’ve never outgrown a daughter’s natural delight in her father’s laughter)
- How someone reacts to something– whether it’s an image, violence, an unexpected sex-scene or a type of humor– reveals aspects of personality or character by rubbing it up against something new.
- Solidarity and appreciation of enjoying (or even hating) the same thing
- I can’t say how thrilling I find it when Jay wants to watch something I’ve enjoyed, and shares my sense of enjoyment (This most lately happened with Sabrina on the night of February 22–a movie we watched while taking turns walking the baby).
- His enjoyment counts very nearly as words of affirmation, since he is agreeing with (and thereby validating) my assessment. He is ascribing value to what I delight in.
(I love subtle humor and “throw-away” lines, for example. Something you have to want to pay attention to, to “get.”)
- It draws us closer together to continue finding things we have in common.
Movies can easily become props, of course, and I’ve sometimes complained they are excuses not to interact. But approached mindfully they can be an environment to feed our natural hungers for Story, companionship, and discovery.