I had a fight with my husband last night. A minor one, the kind that every marriage experiences with some degree of frequency, but a fight nonetheless. I went to sleep at midnight, expecting him to follow me shortly, but by 1AM the noise level from the living room indicated that he wasn't going to be there any time soon.
Angry, I stomped out there to catch him and one of our room mates watching a movie. I asked them to turn it down, but their laughter was too much for 1AM (even on a Saturday) and I had to break the party up shortly after that. Noise carries far too easily in our small house, and there was no way I was going to sleep while that was going on.
I'm weird. I don't like movies. I used to make excuses for it - the movie theaters are too loud (excessive noise is a migraine trigger for me). Then it became that the cost of movies is too much (very true.) But with the availability of Blockbuster, and these days, Redbox, Netflix, etc, I should be content to wait a month and watch the movies at home.
But I can't. I don't. And I'm still trying to figure out why I don't like to watch them at all.
I don't watch much television, either. I stopped watching regularly scheduled television programming when I was 17, because I realized I was letting an electronic box control my life. (The irony, of course, is that a year later I got my first personal computer.) I'll watch online clips of The Daily Show, and I inhale Japanese cartoons (subtitled, not dubbed), the latter of which I even have a tidy little DVD and Blue Ray collection. We do not have cable, not even basic cable. My primary news sources are NPR and Google News.
I love books. I read and write fiction and nonfiction alike, constantly. My first gen Kindle is squeaking from frequent overuse and abuse. I have to hand it to Amazon, they made those little slabs damn sturdy, and Amazon Prime means I get all the cheap books I could want.
I like live plays. The acting is always top notch, and I love the energy of a theater. I like live musical concerts, ranging from staid operas to loud dance and club music parties (with a pair of good decibel reducing earplugs in, of course.) I speak fondly of movies I've watched in the past, and I'll even re-watch favorites like The Princess Bride.
I like video games that play like 120 hour long movies. But those always have a save point. They are solitary experiences, and can be stopped and resumed on my schedule, not on the schedule of those around me.
I'll grudgingly watch a movie during the daytime, if there is nothing else I'd rather be doing. I refuse to watch one after dinner. It will consume my mind, fill my dreams, make me forget who I am and what I am and crowd out all the stories of my own origin.
In order to keep up with conversations around the water cooler, I will read reviews of the movies. Synopsis. I have read more movie plots on Wikipedia than some actual movie critics. I know it's not the same as watching the real thing, but I'll supplement my plot synopsis with some "best of" clips floating around the Internet, and the end result is being able to "fake" having watched the whole thing, with a startling degree of realism.
After all that, why don't I just cave in and watch the damn thing for real? I do, sometimes. Most of the time I choose not to pursue the film any further, content with what I have seen and read.
Part of it is the intense emotional investment. A movie is asking you to suspend your disbelief for two to three whole hours - to enter the lives of other people, uninterrupted, and to forget your own. I'm not comfortable doing that any more. I like my own life too much.
Part of it is the huge expense, waste, and fakery that goes into a modern big budget film. I can't enjoy watching a story that I know isn't real. The "magic" of special effects is no longer magic, it's just overused computer graphics. The actors, with ranging levels of woodenness, are almost always overpaid and under-talented. The stupidly over-polished script, replete with laugh lines - some of it genuinely funny, most of it not. All I can think when I watch a modern action flick is... they spent a hundred million dollars on this? How many better ways were there to spend that kind of money, than two hours of entertainment for twenty million people?
My husband won the argument, sort of. I'm investigating ways to sound proof the bedroom door. It's selfish of me to tell people they can't enjoy a movie on a Saturday night, and it's unfair of me to tell them to stop just because I don't want to participate.
But I'll wear my badge of "unAmerican movie-hater" for the rest of my life, and I'm not going to be ashamed of it.
The wonderful thing about our country is that we are able to have free time for entertainment, as members of the middle class, and we're allowed to be picky about our hobbies as well.
Edit: Going to dash away for a reconciliation picnic lunch with the husband (too beautiful a day to waste being angry at each other.)
Thanks for the comments so far :) I'll be back in a few hours.