Sometimes, it’s hard to be around film circles when people are discussing new movies. The word that strikes me most is “finally.” As in, “I finally saw [movie].” It sometimes seems to come up when movies have been in the theatre about an hour and a half. And that word, in that context, comes with a kind of privilege that I’m not sure the people using it entirely realize. In fact, I kind of feel as though there’s a lot of unspoken privilege in film discussions, and that can make it awfully hard to be around.
It’s no secret that I have two kids. What fewer people may realize is that I almost never have a babysitter. This comes from the other reason I seldom get out to the movies—I’m poor. I’m on SSI, and with my cost of living adjustment for 2018, I get $700 a month. So I can’t really pay a babysitter, since most of my money goes to paying basic expenses, buying necessities—and, yes, luxuries—for my kids, and things along those lines. If it comes down to new shoes for Simon or movie tickets for me, sorry, guys, the shoes win out. So I’m asking friends to babysit either for free or for barter.
I missed seeing Thor: Ragnarok. Part of that has to do with the fact that, for preference, my boyfriend and I only go to matinees. Because they’re cheaper. So that relied on having babysitters during the day. He works for Lowes, so that means he often works weekends. So we’d have to get a babysitter during the week, and even if we did pay, that means finding someone who has time during the day on a weekday, which simply does not reliably happen. So we missed one of our most anticipated movies of the year because of logistical and financial reasons.
And I’m not alone, here. I know other people in the same situation for one reason or another. The money isn’t there, the time isn’t there, the babysitter isn’t there. Or they live in the middle of nowhere and don’t get to see movies because that movie never gets to where they live. Never gets closer to them than a hundred miles away, and that’s an awfully long drive to see a movie. I think I’ve told this story before, but the only theatre I knew of that played Dead Man twenty-odd years ago that was anywhere near where I lived was across an international border.
And oh, don’t get me started on the Criterion sales. It’s hard and painful to watch people cheerfully declare that they’re buying a pile of movies despite not having seen the ones they bought at the last one when you know that you yourself will not be able to buy anything in this sale and couldn’t buy anything in the last one, either. The movies I own that I haven’t watched were gifts or bought for a few dollars—when my local supermarket had a video rental department, not a rental machine, they’d sell previously viewed for buy-one-get-one or even -two free, and I took much advantage of that. I’m not sure I own a movie that I haven’t seen that I’ve spent more than about $5 on.
I don’t begrudge anyone the ability to see every movie that comes out. Take all the advantage of that you can, if and when you can. Enjoy. What’s hard is the idea that everyone has that same ability. A friend of mine recently said that he thinks that, if you haven’t seen a movie in two weeks after its release, you clearly didn’t want to see it enough to want to avoid spoilers. I still don’t know what happened in Thor: Ragnarok beyond what’s in the trailers; no one tell me.
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