Redefining the Idea of Screening

The other day, in my general internet meanderings, I found an article about texting during movies — examining just how much of a problem it really is, and what should be done about it. Of course, I’ve been going to the movies for years without the “benefit” of a mobile phone, so the idea of having a text conversation strikes me as completely ridiculous. I love the completely immersive experience of the darkened theater, and even too much whispering near me will distract me from the story and pull me back to reality. Oh sure, my husband will check his phone a couple of times when we’re out at a movie together, just to make sure one of the kids isn’t trying to get a hold of us with an emergency. But he’s also a Twitter fiend, who is perfectly capable of not reading tweets during a movie. He knows better. It’s common sense.

Except when it’s not.

Imagine my disdain at discovering a new “entertainment experience” being crafted by none other than Disney, called Second Screen Live. Second Screen, for those unaware, is an app for tablets that promises an interactive experience while you’re watching your favorite (supported) film. I’ve only tried it once, with Pirates of the Caribbean 4, with little to no success. Mainly, I couldn’t get my iPad to properly sync up with the movie, even after multiple attempts. At some point, I just went ahead and ran it out of sync, just because I wanted to see what some of the new features were. It looked to me like the “opportunity” to look through photo galleries, hear director commentary, and just about anything else that would usually be considered behind-the-scenes bonus features–all while trying to watch the movie, too. Now it stands to reason that this would not be a good experience for the first viewing of a movie; it would be best served paired with something one has seen multiple times over, hence my choice of Pirates. Rather than being an entertaining addition to one of my favorite pastimes, however, Second Screen struck me as little more than annoying.

Now: imagine that experience duplicated more than a hundred times over, add children, and throw everybody into a dark movie theater. Sound like fun? It sure looks like fun.

(Did you sense the sarcasm?)

I mean, really, what’s the best-case scenario here? Children with tablet computers, fidgeting with an app that may or may not sync up to a movie that they have no control over. And the supposedly-most-reliable way to sync Second Screen with a movie is by Wi-Fi. When’s the last time you got good, reliable signal for an hour or two? And that’s not even touching on the fact that a theater full of noisy kids with super-bright tablets is NOT my idea of a great movie-going experience.

At the risk of diving head-first into “Get off my lawn” old-geezer territory, I have to ask:

What the heck is Disney thinking?!?

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