Films and distractions

The Wired:

You can’t see a movie at home, unless you have a weak grasp of grammar. You can only see a movie in, yes, a movie theater.


Sure enough, it’s hard work to focus on a movie at home. Everything seems to conspire against you: The rewind button beckons, the bathroom calls, the kitchen tempts. Your phone, meanwhile, offers texts, calls, TikTok, information. What other movie was that actress in again? Let’s Google her. Then let’s watch the trailer. Then let’s text a friend about it. Now Mom’s calling. And on and on, to say nothing of crying babies, barking dogs, screaming neighbors, and malfunctioning Alexas.

There is a lot of semantic nitpicking in the article I refer to, but I think it boils down to whether you give a movie your full attention or not. I get that a movie theater — or cinema, as we call them in the UK — might do something to reduce distractions, but blaming distractions is a fallacy in the first place.

There have always been distractions and, whilst I'll grant you there are more readily available distractions around these days, they're not usually critical ones. The article mentions TikTok, for example, but nothing on there is likely to be critical to your survival.

If you genuinely cannot leave TikTok alone — and either suffer physical unpleasantness or have a mental breakdown if you do so — then you have a problem and need professional help, but for the most part it's a matter of choice. You can choose to be distracted or not — it's really that simple. If you do choose to be distracted then that's fine, but don't go blaming TwitBookTok when you subsequently didn't concentrate on a film. It's all you.

I've probably watched 100+ films in the last five years, and I've watched all bar one of them (No Time To Die, for what it's worth) at home. Whether I give a movie my full attention depends entirely on the film, not where I watch it. For example, I watched Congo last weekend, which was terrible, and I welcomed distractions. My concentration waned, and I only continued watching it to see just how bad it would get. Yet I've seen many films at home that have completely held my attention. That's seen, not watched, to line up with the semantics in The Wired's article. I don't accept that the differentiator between seeing a film and watching a film is the location. It's more to do with a state of mind.

There is one distraction that refuses to go away, though: the need to pee. My bladder is the size of a walnut, and the only way I can watch a film at a cinema is to avoid all liquid for a week beforehand so that I'm completely desiccated. I attend the cinema in powder form these days. This, I'm told, is bad for me, so the distraction of having to hit pause and visit the loo while watch a movie at home is the healthier option.