People Who Watch Movies
People who watch movies become people in movies, I am afraid. With people watching movies, more and more, and with some people doing little else, really, than watching movies, I am afraid that this will in time eliminate much of the population—because, as I said, people who watch movies become, with each watching, steadily less people on their own, but only people in movies themselves. Of course I am not saying that people physically disappear into movies; only that they psychologically disappear into movies! And where the mind goes, the body follows, or the body gives up if it can’t follow. This, I fear, is how people die, I mean one explanation how and why they die–you could make an argument that movies, essentially, kill people. All I can vouch for really, though, is that people are drawn into movies, captivated by the apparent similarity they have to life, and once they start watching movies they begin to model their behavior after those in the movies, becoming effectively just like them. And from that experience they suffer a crippling blow; which is: they no longer can invent themselves in life, which is where they were originally . . . when I met them.
Because of this trend, it could happen that eventually there will be no people, but only several movies; maybe just one movie, with people in it of course, and that will be the way people exist–as people part of a movie. The trend of watching movies could engulf the entire population, that is where it could end, I fear. Now this movie, the final movie of the former reality of life, of course will represent a kind of epoch in the story of mankind. Compared say to former epochs, when there were no movies! All that can be known about these people, who all became movie people, will be only available in the movie they all became a part of, to put it rudely. Also, of course other pieces of information about the world will be able to be known, in haphazard fashion: various street scenes, living rooms, insides of office buildings, roads in the country, etc., all the movie settings where the people in movies forever swim, I am afraid. Maybe one person will be left, to watch this movie, in a dark theater. . . Or maybe just late at night on a television set. Many nights I have myself lived out this fear.
Bear with me as I develop this thesis in even more drastic terms. Certainly, all people who watch movies don’t uniformly succeed in becoming people in movies— though that may be their only chance for any kind of survival. Probably just a very small number of people end up on film, finally, and the rest, by fiat of their decision in life to watch movies, just piece by piece fade away from being people, and don’t get in the final movie of mankind. Well! This is obviously so—there isn’t enough room in the actual movies, even with the crowds periodically there, in grandstands, traffic jams, scenes of escalators, even to be killed in battle—well, it must be that only a few sample characters (to be known as actors and actresses), and others in lesser roles, most just filling in the impression that it was a world with alot of people, actually are there in the movies. Most will just have watched–that will be the only thing that can be said about them in the future. I mean, the future after this epoch we are in right now, when, somehow having survived, the human race is looking back on us.
What I have seen is that people fade and shrink away, as soon as they start watching movies. It isn’t determined by the number of movies they watch, or what type they watch, but by their attitude toward what they watch. It is the idea of movies that is the killer, and the fact that movies have ascended to the position where they offer to replace life, for people. And, unfortunately, I can’t say that people who remain people do so insofar as they DON’T watch movies—I mean, surely it can be no absolute guarantee of remaining a person, just to not have become one of those multitudes watching movies. Surely, other things must be required, to remain as a person in and of yourself. But the thing, anyway, we are concerned with right here is not this fate, of people who don’t watch movies, but the fate of those who do. Which now has been defined in properly drastic terms. I know it even more for a fact that they are becoming people in movies, than I know just how this works. Why it should be that movies possess the mind, body, and soul of those who watch them—well, I am not sure. It’s hard to really analyse. I just learned this truth more from the shock of witnessing what happened to people I’ve known, and then tracing that to the obvious, and unstoppable strange dependence they had. I saw this happening, before I thought to even analyse any movies, to see why it might be happening. And now, before I could do anything about it, the general reality of movies has infiltrated everywhere. Now people are actually serious about movies, they talk about them, and become critics of them! What a joke! They have opinions! Now people have their own video cameras, which are not a wonderful invention but the very devil incarnate. So they can play back a scene in life right away and watch that, like it were some kind of miracle. . . better than the original! And what is worse, people are auditioning every living minute of every day, unconsciously it seems, as if God (the Director) was going to give them a part.
I first had this idea many years ago. Was this what was going to take my friends, one at a time, like abducted by aliens. It was one night in the apartment of some friends in NYC, and after dinner no one could think of anywhere to go, so they casually just put a movie on the VCR. And as we were all watching I could feel my friends literally being sucked into the movie, with each passing second, desiring to become alike totally to the people in that movie; because, I saw, it was teaching them something. Like, how to be people. While I suffered the most awful lethargy, indolence, even spiteful indifference toward everything around me, all unattended and unfilmed realities gathering dust . . . I was afraid, like I was in a void. There was this glow of light spilling from the refrigerator, when I opened the door, as I had hopped away from the movie for a few seconds to get a beer; and I had these pangs of regret, as I stooped toward this little light, like these were special never-to-be-known-again, seconds. Like this was freedom. Then I was leaving life behind when I trundled back into the presence of that other eerie, captivating glow in the living room, the more easy feast for the eyes and ears, calling me back . . . like I wasn’t ready to be born yet.
As I sank back in the chair, facing the animated screen, I had the flickering thought that all I momentarily saw going by could be filmed, filmed by experts! I could feel myself becoming a person in a movie, getting caught in that illusion that a camera was watching me with comprehension and hellish omnipotence. Alas, the silence of my friends, why that alarmed me all the more. These people who watch movies, becoming so like people in movies, that they need to watch more and more just to find out how to act! And they think like people in movies now. They have the illusion of a vaguely descending but certain plot coming upon them. And they have enhanced vision, and finely tuned hearing—when they wake up in the day, after a night of watching movies. They never move now but to see themselves in motion. They treat each other like people in movies treat each other, suspensefully, with everything for the future, for the next scene, minute by minute forgetting who they were . . .
For people who watch movies are already inferior to their old selves, if they had them. They always have to learn how to act out the scene, the scene now in their blood. What the eyes and ears soak up without thinking, that goes directly in the blood! Movies are a total transfusion . . . they are the solution to that old identity crisis, that old problem with consciousness, that failed project of . . . yourself!