On a recent podcast episode of The Self Publishing Podcast, the hosts were talking about the changing dynamics of publishing, music, and movies. Technology has caused a major disruption in the way we consume all three, making it easier than ever to gain instant access to anything we want on our cell phones or home devices.
One of those devices they talked about is the rumored set-top box that would allow people to watch movies at home as soon as they are released in theaters. According to one of the hosts, Steven Spielberg said he's against such a device because theater is one of the last communal experiences we have left. Church and sports are the other two (I'd probably add political conventions and lectures).
I understand what Spielberg is saying, but I'm not sure that we really want as many large communal experiences among strangers anymore. I think we want smaller, more controlled communal experiences (between a few friends in someone's basement or living room), because it's more comfortable and more convenient. But, in my opinion, this is not a positive development.
We aren't as attentive in a controlled environment. We talk during the viewing. We check our phones a dozen times or more. We fast forward through the perceived boring parts. And that means we miss things, so we consume at a shallower level.
When Prince died last year, a local movie theater complex held a viewing of "Purple Rain" and it sold out quickly. They opened another theater and then another to accommodate everyone who wanted to join together to mourn his passing and celebrate his life.
I attended with a friend. In reality, I think we were mourning our own loss as much as anything else. Prince provided the soundtrack for our summers. How could he be gone?
But yet, he was, so we gathered to watch his masterpiece. What we experienced communally was nothing short of raw emotion. During various parts of the movie, people stood and swayed together, arm in arm, and sang the lyrics. Others wept. And still others, like me, reminisced.
The same day I went to the theater to see "Purple Rain" last April, VH1 was showing the movie, so I recorded it. I still haven't watched it. I needed to be around people - people who felt as deeply about the music as I did. As I still do.
A VH1 showing would have been a poor replacement for that experience.
I'd love to get your take on the possibility of movie theater complexes disappearing one day. Would you miss going? Hit the reply button and let me know your thoughts.
Now, let's get to this week's thoughts about slowing down and living deeper:
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Have a great weekend!
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.