Sunday, November 30, 2014

adieu theaters and stores?

When I was a kid, a "good" Saturday was one on which my mother might drop me off at a movie theater with a friend to see a double feature, two or three serial adventures, several cartoons, Movietone News, and three or four movie previews. It was five hours or more of pure bliss.

One of the thoughts I used to have was, "wouldn't it be neat if you could watch movies at home?!"

And, as if to answer my prayer, along came TV. TV did not supplant the movie theater experience at first.

But these days, the rise of the Internet and the mediocrity of Hollywood and the pure price of the movie house has left theaters increasingly out in the cold. When was the last time I went to a movie theater and come away feeling it had been worth the ten or more dollars for the experience?

It feels as if movie theaters are on a path to extinction.

But today, the same is true for bricks-and-mortar retail outlets. Why go to a store if the on-line shopping experience is both faster and cheaper than fighting the crowds, wasting the gas, and paying more? The downside of Internet shopping, of course, is that the quality of the goods cannot be gauged: Things may look good, but their color or materials or manufacture can also be second-rate, to say the least. Suddenly the convenience of the Internet is the inconvenience of sending things back. Not every store has the integrity of an L.L. Bean, whatever the advertising claims.

And if bricks and mortar stores disappear in the face of the Internet onslaught, isn't this one more respect in which the Internet promotes a self-involved and cut-off life experience? Not that shopping promotes a high degree of social connection, but at least there is a presence of actual-factual human beings.

No more movie houses, no more stores: Letting the imagination run to the extremity of the situation (unlikely), it feels like a new and improved Dust Bowl in which the green pastures of humanity become less and less real and more and more a dispiriting pipedream.

1 comment:

  1. The smells and sounds of other humans... pretty informing.