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Going It Alone


My first reaction to reading the Slate article on art-houses that Rob discusses below was to be both amused and contemptuous of this particular manifestation of contraianism-through-not-very-credible-random-anecdotes (has anyone ever seen routine laughing at non-subtitled bits?), but to realize that at least it was more harmless than using this method to, say, defend the overturning of Roe from a “pro-choice” perspective. My second reaction was that given his remarkably prissy conformism that we may have uncovered the secret identity of “Ivan Tribble,” except that Tribble is too much of a Philistine to even claim to be seen anywhere near an arthouse. Until lemurgrrl pointed it out in comments, though, I hadn’t noticed his concluding comment, which does address a more common phenomenon: “Try this thought experiment: You’d go to an art house by yourself. When would you ever do that at a multiplex?” Um, well, it’s not a thought experiment, but yes. I’ve done so many times. Why not? I’ve never understood this idea that there’s something strange about going to movies alone.

Now, I will admit that I’m probably on the other end of the spectrum. I do things alone all the time–such as eating out–that most people find awkward. (This is partly being in an urban environment, I suppose–I don’t have a study at home, so I do a lot of reading and writing outside the house.) And there are things that, while I’m willing to go to by myself, are unquestionably better with friend(s). I go to Shea by myself all the time, for example, but when I lived in Seattle I almost never went to games alone because I knew lots of people who liked baseball. Baseball is definitely more fun with another fan (although seeing it alone live is certainly better than TV.) I will also admit that I have my own irrational situation where I dislike being alone: live music. Especially at small shows, I feel awkward and self-conscious by myself, for whatever reason, and will sometimes skip shows if I can’t find another interested party.

But movies? What the hell difference does it make? You’re sitting in the dark and can’t (or, rather, shouldn’t) say anything. I suppose it’s fun to be able to discuss it afterward (although in my experience post-movie discussion tends to move away from the film pretty quickly), and I guess it has date advantages: low-pressure early relationship date, good date for existing relationship where you spend lots of time with each other. (Although the lack of conversation can also be a disadvantage; the fact that there’s no conversation can make movies a crappy date, and also a bad way of catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while.) But even if one marginally prefers to go with someone else, which I suppose I do too (although not enough to go see movies I don’t want to see), why on earth would anyone think it’s necessary? Why on earth would you skip a movie you want to see just because you can’t find anyone else to go to that movie at that time, whether it’s playing an an arthouse or a googleplex? I find this genuinely incomprehensible.

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