A Message to the Kids from a Grumpy Old Moviegoer
You kids today…You’re all spoiled. Spoiled, I say! Seeing movies is a snap for you. In my day, seeing a hot new movie was work! You all have got it so easy and all you do is complain. “Boo hoo, I can’t find a website that will allow me to pirate the new Will Smith movie before it’s in theaters.” Let me tell you something: you’re all a bunch of punks!
You young people today will never understand the concept of “lines around the block.” A major movie will open on thousands and thousands of screens. Multiplexes will show it in several auditoriums simultaneously, meaning that if you don’t get in for one show, you only have to wait half an hour for the next one. How nice that must be!
When I was a teenager, a major movie opened on only about 800 screens nationwide. If you lived in a small town, like I did, that meant it played at exactly one location near you – and it wasn’t some fancy-shmancy multiplex, it was a single-screen downtown theater. People lined up on the street in front of the box office waiting to get in. Sometimes that line would stretch halfway around the block! But we wanted to see the movies, and so we waited, and we were happy about it. If a really great movie came out in January, we stood outside in the freezing cold waiting to get in! If it was April and raining out, we got soaked and then spent two hours watching the movie in sopping wet clothes. Do you think we complained about it? No, we didn’t complain! We were just happy to be there!
Even when one of those four-screen shoebox-style cinemas opened at the local mall, we still had to wait in line for the latest blockbuster because they’d only show it in one auditorium. When we wanted to see something that was going to be really popular, we went to the mall on Saturday afternoon and stood in line. No shopping, just standing! If we got there early enough, we could get in right away. If not, we sat and waited. The line would often stretch down the corridor where the theater was located, intersect with the main thoroughfare, and continue almost all the way down the length of the mall. Every two hours, they’d start selling tickets for the next show, and we hoped that there would still be tickets left when we got up to the box office. If they sold out, we sat in place for another two hours, hoping to get in for the show after that. It was possible to sit there all day long. And we did! Every once in a while, a movie was so hot that, even after waiting in line all day, we still didn’t get in! You know what we did then? We went back the next weekend and waited in line all over again!
Don’t even get me started on this stadium seating thing you have in all your high-falootin’ multiplexes. Every row is a little higher than the one in front of it. You probably don’t even appreciate that. In my day, we didn’t have stadium seating. All the seats were on the flat floor. If someone tall sat in front of you, you didn’t see the movie! Simple as that! We didn’t complain; we just listened to the movie and used our imagination to visualize what was happening!
You wanna talk 3D? Okay, fine, I’ll talk 3D with you. When you rapscallions go to a 3D movie, you put on these nice, comfortable plastic glasses with clear polarized lenses. It all looks so pretty and realistic when you watch the film. Well, back in my day, we wore uncomfortable, flimsy cardboard glasses. They had one red lens and one green lens. When you looked through them, it made everything on the screen look gray. And by the time the movie was over, we all had massive headaches. But we were thrilled, and you know why? Because we were seeing movies in 3D! We thought we were living in the space age!
I’m not done. These days, you whippersnappers have your fancy DVDs and Blu-Rays. You can watch whatever you want, whenever you want. Let’s say you rent a movie from that Netflix thing you’re all going crazy over. You think it’s pretty good, so you watch it again the next day. Humph! When I was your age, if you liked a movie and wanted to see it a second time, you had to pay to go see the movie in the theater again! And since we didn’t have those new-fangled DVDs, we had to hope that the studios would re-release their biggest and best films. Sometimes they did, but it could be two or three years later! Imagine loving a movie and then having to wait three years to see it again. You can’t, can you?
Of course, now the movies come on DVD the minute they stop showing in theaters. Well, it didn’t used to be that way! It used to take a year or more for a movie to come to home video, and even then it was only on Beta! I bet you punks don’t even know what Beta is! I’d tell you it was something like VHS, but you probably don’t know what VHS is either. You all make me sick!
Oh, and here’s something else. You can own a movie on DVD for, what, twenty bucks, tops? I used to have to work a crummy minimum wage job for months to save up enough money to buy a movie on VHS tape. That’s because they used to cost one hundred dollars! Buying a movie to watch at home was an investment! If I wanted to own a film, I had to be damn sure it was something I’d want to watch again and again and again, because I was dropping a small fortune to own it.
Of course, not all movies came out on tape. We didn’t have video stores because so few movies were released on home video. I used to rent movies at a carpet store! I’d walk in and next to the giant rolls of shag carpet they’d have a small spinning rack of videotapes for rent. Maybe twenty or twenty-five titles in all. There was only one copy of each movie, so the odds of getting what I wanted were slim. At times, I had to wait months before it timed up that I entered the store when the movie I wanted was in. And never a word of complaint came out of my mouth! If I wanted to see a movie bad enough, I went into that carpet store every single day – sometimes multiple times a day – hoping to catch it as somebody else was returning it. If that didn’t work, I went to the dry cleaners across town to see if they had it in. These days, you lazy bums have this…what do you call it?…”instant viewing” and “on demand” nonsense. You have no idea how good you have it! A movie at the touch of your fingers? How nice for you!
Then there’s all those cable channels devoted to movies. You no-good, miserable little shits can find a movie to watch any time you’re inclined to do so. When I was growing up, we had one movie channel: HBO. And it didn’t come on until six o’clock at night. I used to run home from school, wolf down my dinner, then sit in front of the TV for fifteen minutes waiting for HBO to sign on. They ran from 6:00 PM until midnight. If you wanted to watch a movie after that, you were out of luck, because they signed off the air. I remember thinking it was a big deal when HBO finally went 24 hours on weekends. The idea of having hundreds of round-the-clock movie channels was unthinkable. We were just glad to have movies to watch in our own homes!
We had it rough, but we were happy. It gave us character, too! You kids today just have no appreciation for how good your movie-watching lives are. You never would have survived in my day, what with all your whining and your moping around. I ought to give each and every one of you a good slap. You need some sense knocked into those thick heads of yours. Next time you park your keister on a fluffy couch or one of those posh stadium seats to watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster, just take a second to appreciate how good you have it. And if I happen to be sitting behind you, please shut your traps during the show. I didn’t pay good money to listen to you run at the mouth.
Grumpy Old Moviegoer
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