No one knows how to watch movies anymore | MarketingwithAnoy

If you tell a friend you saw a movie last night and your friend knows full well that you never left your apartment, they would have every right to call you a liar. You can not do that watch a movie at home, unless you have a weak grasp of grammar. You can only watch a movie in, yes, a movie theater. That is the point. In a theater, you are at the mercy of the film. It is forced on you, as an object with higher dimensions, almost out of time, there to be looked at, all at once, in its entirety (a movement picture). Then again, if you stayed home, there’s no way you’ve seen a movie. What you did, and this is completely different, was watch that.

This is how most movies are experienced today. They are not, as they were in most of their history, seen. They are seen – on TV, computers, tablets, phones. If you’re an average American, says Gallupyou saw (in cinemas) exactly one movie in 2021 and it was probably the new one Spider Man. (I, who was above average, saw it twice.) Even the phrase “watch a movie” that grew through the 20th century now seems to be on the way outreplaced by one that (surprise) goes back only a few decades, to the VHS boom of the ’80s: “watch a movie.”

No one blames you for this development. That’s actually not true. Cinephiles make, with their belief in the sanctity of the cinematic cathedral, the enveloping darkness and image quality and transporting sound. “It’s the only way to watch a movie,” they claim, emphasizing moviein the same way that a business leader can say that first class is the only way to do it fly. Maybe so, but the underlying assumption – that to see is somehow superior looking atis the first-class experience – is not, for most of us, completely self-evident.

Think about what it means to see. At first glance, it sounds like the more active, and therefore more valuable, activity. To see is to concentrate on, constantly taking care of; to see, meanwhile, is just to see, almost passive. Admittedly, focusing on a movie at home is hard work. Everything seems to conspire against you: the rewind button entices, the bathroom calls, the kitchen tempts. Your phone meanwhile offers text messages, calls, TikTok, Information. What other movie was that actress in again? Let’s Google her. So let’s watch the trailer. So let’s send a message to a friend about it. Now mom’s calling. And know and know, not to mention crying babies, barking dogs, screaming neighbors and bad Alexas. When you finally remember watching a movie, it’s time to go to bed. You’ll finish it tomorrow.

To watch a film at home, then, even if in theory it is to actively engage in it, is in practice to ignore it, or at best to experience it piecemeal, half-heartedly. If any of the streamers – Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, whatever – were to release data on this, I’m sure it would be confirmed. I do not know anyone who saw e.g. Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League without breaks. Or Drive my car, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film. Took them days, if not weeks. If they are finished at all.

Of course, these films were both four hours long. An impossibility, you say – neither body nor brain can be expected to tolerate. But would you say it’s just as impossible to watch four hours of television? Not a chance, because you watched four hours of TV last weekend. Or last night. That’s why simple arguments like “our attention span is shot” are so rarely, in themselves, convincing. You are simply participating in various things these days, such as television or TikTok. (Worse things, some say, less overall, less artistic, but for an alien it still looks like complete attention.) In 2022, there is something uniquely frightening about the prospect of committing to a movie, even in just 90 minutes. So you scroll and scroll and scroll, never quite ready to make a decision, consciously, at some level, that you lack the strength to see it through.

Maybe this does not disturb you. Film is an endangered art form; TV is ascendant! I suppose it does, though. The less you watch movies, the more you miss them. You miss the completeness of them, of a story fully told – something TV (or TikTok, never ending) almost never provides. After all, a movie is designed to be seen at once, its rhythms and tempo earning the bow of a single emotional journey.

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