The Frustration of Sharing Movies

I’ve tried for years (and years) to share movies with Agent Bun, only to have her demur and refuse.

I tried once, long ago, to get her to watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. She took a phone call during it because she just didn’t care. She didn’t understand why I got upset. She still doesn’t.

(To be fair about this, or more fair than I should be: When she showed me A Room with a View I fell asleep so hard I snored. The difference is, of course, the movie I was sharing was awesome and meaningful. Hers just sucked. A Room with a View is as boring as having your taxes filed.)

To quote Captain Kirk from Star Trek III: The Search to Undo Star Trek II: C’est la vie.

But as I try to share movies with our kids, I’m frustrated by their own lack of interest. Movies were an important bonding experience with my dad, and my kids couldn’t care less. It’s disorienting!

Raised in the wasteland of YouTube and Netflix, the virtues of careful attention and longer-form storytelling aren’t as valued as they were when I was younger. There’s something less special about movies in the era of binge-watching.

I’ve tried everything short of outright bribery to get them to care about movies. They can sit down and watch Stranger Things several episodes at a time, but they don’t want to commit to 2 hours for a cinematic journey.

The great Quentin Tarantino saw this issue forming years ago. I guess we all did. People will watch 4 hours’ worth of episodes in a row, but if you ask them for a 2-3 hour movie they disconnect.

Mind you, these kids are whip smart. So it’s not that they “can’t understand” movies. They’ve seen some classics here and there.

I’ve just observed that online culture has bent tastes toward short form, ironically in binge blocks. The emphasis is on consuming as much content as possible, without consideration of the art or the craft. That’s the business model.

Maybe it’s always been that way. But I’m trying to unlock the secret to get them to that place where my dad got me. I tried with Agent Bun, but failed. I don’t want to fail again.

Maybe it’s that we don’t have as many people in the mold of George Lucas as we should. Lucas was a pioneer storyteller in film, but he also came up in the era with Murch, and Coppola, and Scorsese, and DePalma, and so on. He’s as much a symbol of an era as an example of his own.

Maybe it’s just that the world belongs more to the Agent Buns than the kesseljunkies.

If so, maybe it’s time for a revolution.

5 thoughts on “The Frustration of Sharing Movies

  1. I’ve actually brought this up implicitly on my blog. When I decide to watch a show, the first thing I look for is the episode run time. If it’s more than 30 minutes, I audibly sigh. (You’ll all have to take my word for it. It’s like a tree falling in the woods ) I love the idea of being able to stop watching whenever I need to. For example, when I was binging the IT Crowd, I was able to watch an episode while eating breakfast before heading out to work. That was efficient as hell. You can’t do that with Braveheart. Even old man me can appreciate that. That said, I agree that movies have their own merit that’s hard to get out of a TV show.

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    1. Watching an episode of a show over breakfast is different than what I’m presenting here. Of course you’ll watch a show over breakfast instead of a movie. I’m talking about the tendency in the era of the binge watch to watch 2-3 fifty-minute episodes in a row, then choose not to watch a movie because it’s 1hr 45 min. “House of Cards,” where the entire series dropped at once, ushered in that era where people are just trying to cram as much of it in their eyes as they can at a time. Meanwhile, a political thriller with a runtime of 2 hrs is cast aside not because of runtime per se, but because it’s not wrapped up in tinier chunks that require less to digest.

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      1. I get your point. I’m saying it probably comes from the same place psychologically speaking. It’s not just real world convenient; it’s emotionally convenient.

        Or something.

        I dunno.

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  2. I guess I can see both sides. But as I read a family anecdote kept intruding: My Granddaddy Bud (born in 1901) did not like going to the movie theater with his grandfather Will (born in mid-1840’s) because he was embarrassed by him. Will didn’t quite get the concept, so would stand up and yell to the good guy to look out for the bad guys that were in pursuit. I consider that your experience with your dad to be a delightful exception for which you are understandably grateful. And I suspect your girls will have similar concerns when hoping to share their movie experiences with their youngsters one day.

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    1. I can say that, amazingly, after I wrote this I spent a weekend watching movies with the eldest. Hopefully I can nurture that and keep developing it. We even watched one great film (The Shining) and then purposely two bad films I remembered renting from the video store (Firewalker and Allan Quartermaine and the Lost City of Gold), which turned it into a sort of film school situation of, “do you see the clear difference between good and bad?” I think it paid off!

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