With the soaring popularity of Netflix and other video-on-demand services, movies are now available to me at the touch of my fingertips.
I am no longer a slave to commercial breaks; I control the destiny of my late-night entertainment and a variety of titles are within my reach with the push of a button.
This is terrible.
I recently saw “Black Panther,” the newest blockbuster to hit multiplexes. As I reclined in the upholstered leather seat, Marvel Comics T-shirt on my chest, excitement stirred in my stomach. But then I watched my personal space close in around me as people filed in to the theater, taking up seats to my left and right.
I don’t hate people (most of the time), but I prefer sitting in the middle of the row, in the middle of the theater, with at least one empty seat on both sides of me.
Most audiences are respectful movie viewers, but everyone’s had that time in a theater where someone is either on their phone during the movie, commenting loudly during the scenes, or just being rude in general. Experiences like that sour the theater experience for everyone else.
And then there are the arm rests. I want them all to myself. Bumping elbows with a stranger while I’m watching the Black Panther claw through his enemies on the silver screen is not what I signed up for.
Movies are a big interest of mine. Going to the movies with my father is a regular occurrence, and I always like to analyze the film with a critical lens after we’ve viewed it.
My father and I will take a movie apart, piece by piece. What worked in the film? What choices by the director and production team resonated with me? What are the elements that I didn’t respond to, and why?
I have to rely on my memory to recall the parts of the film that I thought to be the strongest or weakest.
With Netflix, though, I can recall the film perfectly, rewinding to specific moments for clarity. I can pick out small details that I may have overlooked during the primary viewing, such as a background character’s expression during an impactful scene or a foreshadowing element that I had missed.
As I watched “Black Panther” on the big screen, a nagging thought kept ringing through my mind: “This would be so much more enjoyable if I watching it at home on Netflix.”
I would have traded in the nice leather recliner for my couch or bed, and traded in movie theater concessions for all the food in my pantry.
As my neck craned up from the front-row seat, I could imagine being curled up on my bed, munching away on caramel popcorn while watching some romantic comedy.
But sometimes there’s no substitute for the booming theater surround-sound and the smell of buttered popcorn. There’s a thrill you get going to the movies with friends and reacting simultaneously. There’s something about the interaction of laughing or crying with strangers, even if you do bump elbows.
For the most part, though, I cherish the ability to pause and rewind at my leisure, especially if I need to take the dreaded mid-movie bathroom break.
I want the ability to watch a scene over and over again, so that I can deeply analyze the details of the filming and cinematography, or simply because I just really love the music playing in the background.
I want all these things because I’ve been spoiled by Netflix, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Michael Free, Jr., is a student who grew up in Milton and studied writing at the University of Washington Tacoma. He is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org