MIKE GOLD: Movie Theaters Suck
I’ve said it before, and I can’t say it enough: John Ostrander is my oldest friend and a virtual brother. We grew up as Northsiders in Chicago, as Cubs fans and as comics fans, and we believe that politics is a more interesting version of cage wrestling. I’d take a bullet for the guy, I’d pull it out of my ample gut, put it on a chain and give it to him. I’d leave it to John to wash it off.
In this space last Sunday, John explained why he loves going to movie theaters. I agree with his points; I think I agree with each and every one of them. But we differ in the conclusion.
Movie theaters suck. They are stupidly expensive. They are a drive to a long parking lot. For the price of a mid-sized carton of popcorn at the multiplex, you can make enough of the stuff to feed most of East Asia. At least one asshole (someday me) is going to forget to turn his cell phone off. Other assholes are going to be texting like a crackhead chicken playing tic-tac-toe on a hotplate. Because they have to pay so much to get into the joint, half the audience thinks they can abandon the concepts of common decency and babble like a crackhead chicken playing tic-tac-toe on a hotplate.
By the way, that’s not necessarily the teenaged and young adult half of the audience. I’ve had to tell yentas old enough to be my grandmother to shut the hell up, even resorting to whispering to one “shut up and learn some fucking manners!”
Oh, yeah. Did I mention the commercials? Commercials?? Really? Commercials? That’s just an insult. I don’t care if it reduces the already outlandish ticket price. That’s like selling a bag of shit for only $12.00.
But it’s the other part of John’s argument that I wish to address.
Last year, our ancient 35” cathode ray tube died. Soul daughter Adriane and I immediately performed CPR, to no avail. After sitting in stunned silence for a while, I mentioned I had planned on this happening eventually. The very next morning – no time to sit shiva – we went out and bought a 55” LED HDTV, 240 mHz, with Wi-Fi. Later on we enhanced the sound system and still later found a Blu-Ray player in a box of Post Toasties. Combined, the whole operation cost less than the 35” CRT it replaced – and I’m not even talking constant dollars. For the price of two-dozen movie theater outings, we can conquer Hollywood.
Nonetheless, Adriane asked why I was insistent on getting a 55” screen. I said that when she’s 60, she’ll understand. I also warned her I’ll be moving the couch a couple inches closer to the screen each year.
It is not the same as seeing a movie in a real theater… but it’s damn close, particularly on Blu-Ray. If there’s somebody babbling at the screen, chances are it’s me and I am exceptionally entertaining. The popcorn is better and comparatively free of charge. If my cellphone rings, I turn it off. There’s no driving involved. I don’t even have to get dressed – sometimes.
And there are no commercials.
Different strokes for different folks, and I’m not knocking John’s choice. I’m sure the theaters in the Flint Michigan area are less expensive than they are in the New York metro area. Still, John and I grew up going to many (if not all) of the same, glorious movie palaces that were often better than the movies they showed. If I had a chance to do that again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And I haven’t sworn off going to the movies, but these days it’s a rare event involving a large group of friends, an impulse choice, or a multiplex in the middle of nowhere but within a short drive of whatever motel I’m staying at off an Interstate.
But I’ll try to go to a matinee.
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil