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When I was a kid, Pluto was a planet

December 31, 2007

Two things happened recently that sent me on a wave of nostagia.   

Yesterday, Mr. IT was kind enough to watch the kids so I could go to a movie with a friend.  The choice was an all-out popcorn pick – National Treasure Book of Secrets.  Yes, it was a poor man’s Da Vinci Code, but it was a heck of a lot more entertaining as a movie.  Anyhow, before the movie we were subjected to the increasingly standard assortment of commercials and PSAs before we saw one preview for the new Narnia movie.  We thought the movie was starting, but instead they showed an animation short.  Yes, a short, just like mom used to see in the movies when she was a little girl.  They usually come before Pixar films, but this was the first Disney movie in a long time that had a cartoon short as an accompaniment.   It was Goofy’s guide to setting up a home theatre, and at this time of year, it drew lots of chuckles from the audience. 

My friend, who was with me, was not totally pleased.  First, there was only one preview, and we both admitted to loving previews.  Second, she didn’t understand the short (she’s under 30).  Not the content of the short, but the concept of a short before a feature film.  I tried to explain that movies always used to have these, and back a long time ago, they were an art form.  Back in the day, not my day but one I’ve heard of, there were cliffhangers and newsreels and cartoon shorts before the feature film.  My friend really could not wrap her mind around this concept.  I explained that before TV, theatres are where people came for visual entertainment, and they served that purpose well.

A similar memory came up last week when we went to see the Radio City Christmas show.  I remember being a kid and going to Radio City to see a movie, when the Rockettes would perform before the movie as a regular thing, and how the Rockettes used to perform at times other than just the Christmas holidays.  It’s not like that anymore, and it made me sad that I could not share a memory like that with my children.   

I got to thinking how the concept of entertainment has changed.  The Internet and our 999 cable channels certainly provide the content we used to get, but the simple thrill of entertainment, whether experienced live, can’t be replicated.  I miss movie theatres that housed one theatre, and not 10.  I used to joke with friends in high school about the concept of the googleplex, long before a company with a similar name sprung up.  That was when all our single theatres were being sliced in half, and half again.  What would be next, an unlimited zone of thousands of theatres where you sat and stared at a tiny screen in a tiny room, we thought.  Aren’t we living that reality now, in front of our computers and in our home theatres?  As accessible as entertainment has become for us, it seems more and more that the thrill we used to achieve regularly is disappearing. 

As a side note, I kept pointing out to my friend little in-jokes in the Goofy short, such as the framed photo of Disney animation head Jon Lassiter, and the box that the computer came in having the SKU code that looked suspiciously like the name MICKEY MOUSE.  These were “blink and you miss them” moments, but she did catch Goofy wearing a Mickey Mouse watch.  Even in public, I’m destined to be a geek. 

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