Saturday, January 01, 2005


More often than not, I find reading Ann Althouse to be a bit like watching paint dry. But a couple days ago she made an interesting end-of-year observation:

I realize I've only gone out to the movies six times this year. Just a few years ago, I went to the movies two or three times a week. What has changed? Is it me? Is it the movies? Have the people in the audience gotten more annoying? Or is it that the world has changed in a way that makes movies seem less important?

I'm in the same boat (though I never went two or three times a week). So let's break it down from my own point of view.

"Is it me?"

It's definitely partly me. TiVo's a big factor. There's almost always something to watch with TiVo, so there's often more incentive to stay in than to pay $10 to see a movie. I also skip commercials on probably 80% of my total TV watching, so I know less about movies that are showing or coming soon. And by seeing fewer movies, I see fewer previews. Quite the viscious cycle. There are also a few more me-specific reasons, like laziness and my schedule.

"Is it the movies?"

I don't think box office numbers are down, and critics still have nice things to say about plenty of films...despite the continuing and distasteful emphasis on hollow, big-budget blockbusters. But I just seem to care less. I mean, doesn't it seem like films are making less of a cultural impact? Are there still movies that come out and capture the entire nation's attention, inserting annoying catch-phrases like "Show me the money" into the vernacular? Are these things still happening and I simply don't notice them anymore?

"Or is it that the world has changed in a way that makes movies seem less important?"

I'm tempted to think that's some kind of lame reference to politics or 9/11, in which case -- no, that's exceedingly stupid. But if Althouse is simply referring to the general phenomenon of there being more and more options for occupying our time and attention, then yes, she may be onto something.

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