Thursday, March 10, 2011

Going to the movies? By yourself? WHY WOULD YOU DO SUCH A THING.

How often have you taken that precarious stroll from the movie theater entrance to the automated ticket machines, glancing over your shoulder for reactions from strangers you will never encounter, who may or may not be judging you based on the fact you’re about to purchase only one, solitary movie ticket?  Hell, I’ve even stood at the machine itself and wondered if a box of 1’s and 0’s had the capacity to judge the health of my social life and ask me something like “Really?  Do you have no friends?”
Because even though a night at the movies seems like a pretty safe, easy form of entertainment (or way to kill time), there is one societal understanding that makes absolutely zero sense:

You don’t go to the movies alone.

Let’s put aside the fact that its “social taboo” to do many other activities alone: We’ve all stared at the guy eating dinner in a crowded restaurant by himself, but never consider that he may have chosen to eat alone and, instead, just assume he has no friends and, thus, no choice but to munch his French fries in miserable solitude.  But at least dining generally carries a social aspect as breaking bread is arguably our greatest vehicle for long, meaningful conversation/debate.

We often watch movies/television alone in the comfort of our own home.  Some even consider a night curled on the couch while watching movies to be therapeutic during rough times, such as a break up.  But just the idea of scrapping the rental plan in favor of purchasing one ticket from the box office can be poison. But here’s the thing: why is going to a movie a social event?  Sure, you have the five minutes prior to the movie to chatter away, and perhaps the five minutes it takes to walk to your car upon conclusion of the picture, but once the lights go down and the previews start, it’s uncouth to even utter a word beyond “I have to pee” while the movie is in progress.  In fact, theaters generally throw more than one warning for the audience to keep its mouth closed for the duration of the film.  Due to this, it’s arguably the most unsocial thing a human can do besides taking a shit (though some inconsiderate people do yap on the phone in the public restroom), yet much of the population absolutely REFUSES to go to the movies alone as they will feel like a “loser.” Does having a familiar, breathing human beside you somehow enhance the joy?  I understand that watching a movie in a theater can be a communal experience, but how often does it involve actual interaction between audience members?  Fifty years from now, when I’m having coffee with an old friend, I sincerely doubt the words “do you remember the time we saw The Adjustment Bureau? Oh, thems were the days!” will ever be uttered from my mouth.

While trying to dissect the reason for this, there’s only one possible explanation I can conjure: simply put, most humans love to go out to fulfill a social requirement to prove to themselves that they are not the aforementioned “loser.”  Though I will cover this more fully in another post, couples and friends will often go to bars, pay way too much for booze, only to sit in the corner and converse to no one outside their group.  They easily could do this in the comfort of someone’s living room and save quite a bit of money by buying their drinks in bulk and not paying a cover charge.  Yet, we never really choose option B because that doesn’t qualify as “going out,” and it’s not as cool to tell co-workers that you spent a quiet night at a friend’s house as it would be if you said you spent it at a hot club. 

But a night at the movies is an easy, acceptable way to spend an evening, even if it’s not the most “exciting” night out.  It requires getting in a car, driving, paying money, buying snacks, and sitting for a required amount of time.  Then, of course, it gives you a conversation piece later on when someone asks you what you did over the weekend. 

But even though this same exact experience can be had while viewing alone, it’s considered weird. 


1 comment:

  1. well honestly i don't really know anyone over the age of 13 who thinks it's weird to go to the movies alone. also, i have never stared at someone eating dinner alone in a crowded restaraunt, cause, well it's just not that weird. i see it all the time. i do it all the time. shrug.