Why Going to the Movies Alone is a Lost Art

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I used to be afraid of going to the movies alone.

Okay, maybe not afraid. More "weirded out" would be the right term. For my whole life, I've loved film; it's my passion. But it wasn't until last December that I went alone for the first time to see the spectacular The Disaster Artist in a full theater. Needless to say, it was probably one of the best movie-going experiences of my life thus far. So why is it that we don't normally go to the movies alone? Obviously, there is the sociological aspect (or fear of being seen alone), but I've noticed there's more to this paradox than meets the eye...

 

People don't want to critically evaluate others' ideas and world-views.

This is a bold statement, but for a long time now, many people have thought of film as just mere entertainment. It's not. It is a vibrant platform for philosophy. Film (for the most part) represents world-views from all walks of life. It is an excellent portrayal of the human experience; even down to certain aspect ratios and 24fps (the way the human eye actually perceives reality). It really only becomes mere entertainment when it becomes mindless: the way most people like it. 

I recently watched a film by Brett Hayley entitled The Hero. In this film, Sam Elliot plays Lee, a dying, washed up Hollywood western star. In one scene, Lee is about to tell his friend Jeremy about a dream he had, until Jeremy shuts him down. He says, "It just doesn't interest me, man. Think about it. I mean, it's your dream." Lee's bushy mustache frowns at him until he says, "So what about movies? Do they interest you?" Jeremy immediately says, "Yeah, I love movies." And without a moment of hesitation, Lee says, "Movies are other people's dreams." Lee's friend, Jeremy, represents the vast majority of consumers; they are exactly that...they consume movies. I'm convinced that if a project has more producers, a bigger studio, and even a higher budget, it all contributes to less authenticity and more creative disability. The original concept dilutes to the producers'/studio's less-involved opinions and decisions. 

Movies are other people’s dreams
— Lee Hayden, The Hero (2017)

So how does this relate to the topic at hand? Many people don't want to critically evaluate others' stories, ideas, and world-views. They want to be presented with a straightforward, easy-to-swallow story that meets their expectations with plenty of clichés and a blissful ending. If you watch a limited release indie film, that is beloved by critics, (i.e. this year's You Were Never Really Here or First Reformed), I can promise you will be very uncomfortable by the slow pacing, and the haunting atmosphere of the films. But in the end, your jaw will be dropped and you will be left with some tough themes to analyze for yourself. 

 

When You Get Out of The Theater.

Let's say you go to see a movie with a group of friends. The movie ends. The credits roll. And now you're walking out to the parking lot. You are all talking about the movie; some of your friends liked it, you personally hated it, and everybody is chit-chattering about their opinions.

Now picture yourself at the movie alone. You exit the theater. You use the restroom (because let's be honest, who doesn't need to use the restroom at the end of a movie). Then you walk out to the parking lot, and now you're sitting in your car...in complete silence. It's just you and your raw thoughts that begin bubbling to the surface.  Nothing to influence or distract you from your original reaction.

 

I Dare You.

Go to the movies alone. Take your mind on a date. See a limited release or an indie film that you wouldn't normally see.

Take your mind on a date.

We are all lonely sometimes. But I've realized that going to the movies alone is not a lonely experience. Watching other people's dreams is hardly a lonely experience. It's an intimate experience. And that's what makes your seemingly lonesome trip to the movie theater worth it.