Moviegoing is among the modern human race’s most beloved social pastimes. From the first date to the girls’ night out to the brodown to the 7th wedding anniversary, the dinner-and-a-flick riff has become THEE go-to rallying point for any two or more people seeking a turnkey solution to get together for whatever reason.
And I hate it.
Don’t go getting me wrong. I love great movies. I like watching good movies. I enjoy the stories. The genres, the visuals, the laughs and the tears, the moviegoing experience itself.
I also love my friends. I like making friends. I enjoy the connection. Our conversation, our sharing of life’s joys and concerns, our collaboration of ideas, our two-hour discussions on the consequences of our individual lives’ choices on both personal and human levels, and all the other things that make us social beings.
But here’s the thing:
When used as as a social centerpiece like this, the movie defeats the purpose of two or more people taking the time to be simultaneously in the same room in the first place.
We aren’t getting any younger. We’ve reached the age where days easily turn into weeks. Weeks become months. Months go by in groups of seven and become years, and the next thing you know, it’s been half a decade since you said that the last time, which feels like yesterday. A very real part of this time thing is that the moments of our personal relationships become increasingly separated by time, diluted by the growing chunks of space that surround our occasional meetings. I’m not talking about the bros and girlfriends you see often; I’m talking about lifelong friends that you see every week if you’re lucky, maybe a couple few weeks if you try, and more like every several months or years if you’re like the rest of us.
Our times together are important.
I’ve never really understood the moviegoing thing when it comes to getting together with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while. Why do we do this? It has never made sense to me why we — after not seeing each other for months on end — block out 4 hours to get together, then take more than half of 4 those hours and spend it sitting in a dark movie theater staring at a wall in silence. What’s the point? And talk about a buzz killer! Nothing kills a conversation like being told to finish your beer because the movie’s starting in six minutes. Listen, I love a good movie as much as anybody, but doing it with a bunch of people in sync in a theater at a specific time makes about as much sense as blocking off a couple hours to simultaneously read the New York Times. “Can you pass me the Sports section?” It’s something we can all do — arguably more efficiently — on our own time.
Dinner, yes. Drinks, of course. Walks, convo, jam session, whatever. Bowling! I’m game. But a movie? Maybe tomorrow. After I know what you did yesterday.
Am I missing something? Or am I just noticing something?