What Are "Movies"?
...and Why Do We Go To Movies, Anyway? A Window Into Human Nature
Why do people go to movies, watch tv, and read books?
In our ongoing quest to understand life and human behavior, we had to ask.
After all, it seems absurd, if you look at it on the surface.
Millions of busy, hardworking people spend their hard-earned money in order to sit in a big, dark room with a crowd of mostly strangers in order and watch projected illusions representing people they’ve never met pretending to behave in orchestrated, contrived, unreal situations.
It’s Hollywood. It’s fame. It’s “fake.” And it’s a multi-billion dollar industry.
What’s this really all about?
There's something deeper going on here.
And we, your brave, hearty, and ever-so-huggable LiveReal Agents . . . want to get to the bottom of it.
It's not just escapism.
It's too powerful for that. Or even if it is...that just begs the question. What does it help us escape from, and how?
It's not just boredom.
(Same as the above. If movies are the "medicine" that "cures" us of the pain of boredom...how do they work? And what is "boredom," really, and why is it painful?)
...so what, really, is it? What is the power behind movies?
So we thought and thought, and scratched our heads, and thought some more . . . and eventually, after much sweat and strain . . . POP! - a brilliant, unique, completely original answer just came to us.
And about two hours later we realized that lots of other people had said basically the same thing way before we did.
Those answers go something like this...
". . . the particular value of fiction over raw experience is that it imposes a pattern or a meaning upon life.
Life is frustrating, chaotic, illogical, fantastic, and, more often than not, apparently meaningless, full of useless suffering, pain, tragedy.
Yet man, as a rational and idealistic creature, craves order, plan, and satisfaction of individual potentialities. He may turn to religion, philosophy, poetry, or fiction for his answer to the riddle of life. If he turns to fiction, he wants some sort of organization, meaning, and pattern . . ."
- Mary Burchard Orvis
- and like this...
"The purpose of fiction in general is still, today, essentially religious.
What! you say. Religious? That's right, religious. Literature proves there is order in the universe. It says that, in life, moral choices lead to outcomes. In fiction there is meaning in human events. If life is chaos, and literature mirrors this chaos, there's no point to reading. If "Stuff happens," but events, choices, and conflict resolution do not lead anywhere, there would be no reason for a reader to read fiction at all. Readers read to be reassured that life does have meaning and there is order behind all the chaos. These are essentially religious sentiments."
- James Frey
- and like this...
"When you read a great novel, you put yourself in the place of the hero or heroine, feel her difficulties from within, regret her bad choices. Momentarily, they become your bad choices. You wince, you suffer, you have to put the book down for a while. When Anna Karenina does the wrong thing, you may see what is wrong and yet recognize that you might well have made the same mistake...No set of doctrines is as important for ethical behavior as that direct sensation of being in the other person’s place...
We all live in a prison house of self. We naturally see the world from our own perspective and see our own point of view as obvious and, if we are not careful, as the only possible one...
Students will acquire the skill to inhabit the author’s world. Her perspective becomes one with which they are intimate, and which, when their own way of thinking leads them to a dead end, they can temporarily adopt to see if it might help. Novelistic empathy gives them a diversity of ways of thinking and feeling. They can escape from the prison house of self."
- Gary Saul Morson
So the difference between real life and movies is that movies have to make sense, where life, all too often, doesn't. Movies, television, and books are essentially bits and slices of real life that are broken down into bite-sized, manageable pieces.
And so if movies and fiction are tools that we use to, as Ms. Orvis stated, help us "answer the riddle of life," then there must also be even more to it than we've found so far.
To "answer the riddle of life" translates into something like this:
All the glamour, fame, glitz and glitter, all the celebrity-worship, fascination, hype and buzz that surrounds the entertainment industry is essentially so compelling, fascinating, and downright entertaining because, and only because...
- this is our speculation here, that we will hopefully be able to develop more thoroughly...
- it is an imitation and reflection of something that is even more fascinating, compelling, and downright entertaining.
Our irresistible attraction to the entertainment industry comes down to this:
Movies and entertainments are relatively easy, inexpensive, fast ways to taste the fruits of real “inner work.”
To Be Continued . . .