I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know what a movie is anymore.
Movies used to be these films that you’d go out to your local theatre to see.
Sure, you could watch them on your TV, or in recent years, via your screen/tablet of choice. But this was only AFTER we had to move our asses out of the house and out to….well, somewhere.
Now we have the chance the watch them sitting, lying or doing god knows what else in our living rooms, bedrooms or kitchens.
Heck, we could even be the FIRST on our block to view next year’s Academy Award winning best picture sitting on our bathroom toilets via our iPhones if we so desire.
Too vivid an image, I know, and who’d want to? (Note: Okay, you know someone would). Still, this is more than possible and, in certain circles, could be viewed as progress.
The groupthink in the ad world right now is that consumers, more than anything, desire OPTIONS and will pay handsomely for the privilege of getting what they REALLY want in that moment.
And, let’s face it, which of us at some moment doesn’t desperately want to be the FIRST?
Of course, the latter doesn’t seem to apply to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in far too many communities in the Deep South. Despite more than 50% of the US having already received at least one dosage there are millions of holdouts determined to be the lastor in the (not) over my dead body category.
These are the kind of people who have stubbornly vowed to never watch Titanic or The Lord of the Rings.
And lest you think I’m any different, just know to this day I’ve never seen Jaws. Sure, I’ve always blamed it on my lifelong love of the beach and body surfing. Why put those images and ideas in my brain?
But at this point, well, it’s just a matter of pride. And since June is PRIDE month for all LGBTQ Americans, I don’t see any reason to end this 47-year boycott.
Still, Jaws admittedly became a seminal MOVIE movie back when it was released in 1975. Meaning, that not only was it a box-office smash action film but it also had a story and characters. So much so, that it likely paved the way for films like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.
That is, at least in the minds of the movie studios and film financiers everywhere.
Jaws might not have actually won the best picture Oscar, but it’s worth noting that it did receive an Academy Award nomination in the best picture category. And that’s really saying something since that year its fellow nominees were classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville.
I’d venture to say the only one of those that would be likely to be given a green light as a movie today is Jaws.
I think what THEY’RE really saying is that only the threat of a shark attack would be enough to get us all up and out of our homes and back to our local theatres.
The rest, well, they could be binge-watched.
Thanks, Steven (Note: Spielberg, that is). Despite your penance with movies like Schindler’s List, Lincoln and the upcoming West Side Story, you literally did create a monster that has stayed with us to this day and morphed into all kinds of variants.
Once studios realized they didn’t have to delve too far into the human psyche and take very many risks away from funneling their money into tried-and-true formulas, they didn’t. Or mostly didn’t.
This brings us back to not leaving our homes and what the definition of a movie is.
In the last ten days, I’ve binge-watched two extremely watchable movies that are not considered movies at all – Amazon’s highly original, bold and superbly reimagined historical drama The Underground Railroad and HBO Max’s infinitely engaging murder mystery, character-driven drama about the American working class, and the rest of us, Mare of Easttown.
The UR is 10episodes and M of E is 7 episodes. Total then up and they’re approximately a 17-hour movie.
In 1975 they likely would have been 8 different movies made by various studios on similarly themed subjects over a decade.
I’m not sure if that’s better of worse than what they would be considered now, which are stellar episodes of two contained limited series able to dig deep into the human condition in a way few theatrical features can or seldom try to do in 2021 (Note: Pandemic not withstanding).
I only know that MOVIES like these, which are solely being shown on television, are the reason that I, as a young person, wanted to go OUT to the movies in the first place.
Oh sure, I’d leave my bathroom or get off the couch to be frightened to death by The Exorcist or Poltergeist or even The Shining. And as a prideful LGBTQ person I couldn’t wait for the spectacle of something like the next midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Or even, well, okay, Funny Girl. (Note: I was VERY young and my aunt and Mom took me when I begged).
But spectacle wasn’t ALL the movies offered.
What got me out of my bathroom, off my couch and out of my house was the chance to connect with something recognizable and human and identifiable.
It wasn’t solely the in-your-face thrill but the thrill of realizing, among a group of other humans, that you were not alone and that others had the same fears, loves, dysfunctions and battles with the establishment as you did and that it was okay – or could be.
Most importantly, it was finally, the knowledge that you were not alone.
I loved feeling that not alone feeling among other people watching something deep and human that up to that point had, unbeknownst to me, been plaguing me in the darkest, most dangerous depths of dread in my brain.
Those are the movies I loved and the movies that, post pandemic, I still long to leave my home tablet and screens to return to. And the ones I seldom find anywhere, pre or post pandemic.
Yet strangely, I do remain ever hopeful. Because the one thing the movies have taught me is that I am NOT alone.