I love the movies; I hate GOING to the movies

I really like film and television.  I think they’re superb art forms and the occasional ‘Dude, Where’s My Car’ and ‘Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo’ not withstanding, I think they’re some of the best mediums going right now.

While television’s fighting to find its own niche with on-demand viewing versus living viewing, I feel like it’s holding its own.  What isn’t holding its own is the film industry.  Ticket sales continue to be abysmal and films that once seemed like a sure thing have become a gamble.  A great evaluation for this is discussed by one of the preeminent film reviewers, ‘Movie’ Bob Chipman.  Movie Bob asserts that many genres are bombing because of the way the market and audiences have changed.  I think this may potentially be a case of confusing correlation with causation.

Bullet To The Head didn’t appeal to me but the Last Stand did, yet I didn’t go see it in theaters.  Why?  It wasn’t because of a dwindling appreciation for the muscle-bound icons of old or the films that they created; it’s because I wasn’t about to spend $11 to see a two-hour movie one time.

Theaters have become damn-near hostile environments of late.  Ticket prices have skyrocketed and the product returned is pathetic.  The concessions stand is a joke, offering a poor selection of over-priced, underwhelming food stuffs.  And if I’m paying for two people to go see a movie, it’s actually cheaper to just wait until the DVD is released, even if I end up just using the DVD as a coaster after the first viewing.

Worst of all is the hubris of the movie theaters.  I frequent a Regal Cinema (but have had similar experiences at the other chains nearby) and the experience is that of a bombardment of television commercials before the movie, going on for sometimes upwards of fifteen-twenty minutes.  And this is after already having paid $11 (or more) just to sit down.  I paid to watch these commercials which I see all the time on TV.  For free.

But then, the true crux of my frustration, is the invariable ad from the cinema itself insisting that theater-viewing is the best option.  The aforementioned Regal Cinemas run an ad showing various landscape and action sequences on a gradually dwindling screen that shrinks to the size of what seems to be a cell phone screen and then asserts that ‘no movie should be reduced to this’, followed by their slogan ‘Go Big or Go Home’.  At least once, I’ve stood up and walked out.  That kind of arrogance and dismissal of the audience is just intolerable.

The film industry is in a lot of trouble, no doubt, but the biggest problem isn’t the films or the studios; it’s the cinemas.  Their arrogant disregard for their audience, and said audience’s extremely viable alternatives, is frustrating beyond words.  It’s left me waiting almost without exception for the DVD release of a film rather than putting up with the movie theaters.

I like movies.  I love movies.  And I want to support movies.  But I don’t want to support cinemas.  At least not until they give me a reason to think them deserving of my patronage.

Giving Up Power

So by this point, it’s become pretty wide-spread knowledge that the Pope is giving up his seat to retire. A lot of people are making a big deal out of how this hasn’t happened in six hundred years and they aren’t sure how to take this news. There are so many uncertainties surrounding this event. It’s especially worth noting that in the anti-Catholic and anti-deist groups, there’s a lot of vitriol towards the Papacy. And I don’t think it’s deserved in this instance.

As a non-Catholic, I really don’t have much of a horse in this race. And as secularist, I especially don’t ascribe to any metaphysical implications of these events. That being said, I don’t want to denounce the beliefs of others just because I don’t share them. I’m speaking from a purely humanist standpoint, and one who has watched in recent days as the Catholic Church become surrounded by the new of abuses and controversies.

And while a right and a wrong don’t cancel each other out, I think it’s worth noting when an organization does something right. Lord Acton said ‘Power Corrupts and Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely’ and I think most would agree there’s some very real truth to that sentiment. But it isn’t about the Power of the Papacy; it’s about giving up that power.

A common complaint lodged against politicians of most every persuasion – from school board members to tyrannical dictators – is they do not relinquish power (see complaints against the Supreme Court of the United States for prime examples). Once a person has power, they often never give it up. And in the case of such sweeping power as the Papacy, it has never been given up in over six hundred years.

Until now.

This isn’t a commentary on the policies and practices, actions and dogma, of the Catholic Church. This is simply recognition of a guy doing the nearly-unprecedented: giving up nigh-absolute power.

That’s a really cool thing to see happen.