Human beings have always loved stories. We respond well to them. Television and movies are powerful storytelling mediums. Today’s movie theater is storytelling on steroids: sound louder than life, super-saturated colors. Characters are multiple times bigger than life. They often do things that are not actually possible. The storytelling experience in a cinema is totally immersive. Thus it has disproportionate influence.
I may not be well qualified to comment on this, as we are not avid moviegoers. I doubt I have sat through a movie in a theater more than 25 or 30 times in my entire existence. I have watched far too much television and have seen many movies at home. More than half — easily — have proven to be considerably disappointing.
Particularly confounding are the times we have viewed movies at the specific recommendation of Christian friends, only to end up seeing and hearing things we would not choose to have drilled into our brains under the high psi of ultra tech. This is the thing about giant screen storytelling. Images and sounds are lasered into your brain and your consciousness, never to leave. I could give you examples, but since they were not appropriate to receive, they are not appropriate to share with you.
Thus it takes great discernment before opening that channel to your mind. Any channel opened to your mind also opens a channel to your heart.
How often do you consider that before going into semi-consciousness before the big screen?
We did not own a television when I grew up. Even then, when oil was still being formed in the subterranean zones, most folks had TVs, so we were a bit off-beam. I remember that I would often visit my friend Jim’s house on Tuesday evenings to watch Combat and McHale’s Navy. (The latter was my introduction to Tim Conway.) This was black-and-white television, but Combat held my unwavering attention.
Sometimes in December, my father would rent a television for a couple of weeks so we could see the Christmas specials. Even then we were pulled into whatever was going on in that little tube rendering moving images in black and white.
- What would our culture be like if television and movies did not exist?
- What would our daily lives be like?
- How would our interactions change?
- Would there still be engaging storytelling?
- Would we would be more connected to one another?
- Would we be better conversationalists?
- Would we do more reading?
- Would we be be more thoughtful?
- Would we be more critical thinkers?
While we’ll never go back, I venture that those latter questions should be answered, “yes”.
It would be harder to outsource our entertainment. People would find ways to do more things together. They would have more conversation. They would read more. They would be more creative with their time. They would get more done. Their inordinate desires for material goods would be less insistent.
I have taken brief fasts from media. The increase in available time is surprising. When we lived in Poulsbo, Washington recently, we never had television service hooked up. I did not miss it. I wished I could watch a game or two here and there, but it actually felt like a relief.
I listened to a lot more music. I read and read. I played more games with friends. Admittedly, some of this free time was there because I was not working. However, my employment search was nearly full-time.
We have TV service again. We went with a combo of Roku and basic cable. While I like the vast array of possibilities for learning and storytelling, some days I regret the choice. I should probably keep a log for how many hours a month that sleek black story-telling slab on the wall is commanding attention, but I might be too chagrined to learn the truth.
Do you agree? Has modern-day storytelling become to powerful for our own good?