Movies: 24/7 Entertainment or Obsessive Addiction?

Enjoy the movies, but also be aware of what you are “taking away” from it.

As a young child, I was always quiet and never felt the need to express myself. This changed when I started watching Bollywood movies as entertainment to compensate for my boring and short days, and I subconsciously started to adapt to the characters’ personalities in the movies. I started watching Bollywood movies, typically rom-coms, at the age of eight, and back then, the female protagonists in the movies were often loud and talkative — borderline annoying. My obsession with these types of characters made me feel that since their attitude is liked by many in the movies, it would be nice to have the same attitude in real life.

On the positive end, movies have facilitated my confidence both inside and outside the classroom.This allowed me to partake in conferences like the Model United Nations and Harvard Model Congress discussing important political issues. These have helped me with my speaking skills, and helped me be more comfortable with people in general.

When I first moved to Singapore, the difference in the cultures was overwhelming for me, and I used to get very confused and feel left out. Therefore, I used to watch Bollywood movies to cope with the discomfort. My initial reason to watching movies was the connection it provided for me, and helped me get closer to my country and culture.Movies in general have been such a big component of my personality  — every chance I get to relate something to a movie, I’m able to thank them for everything they have given me. I do so quite often, including this blog post.

As an expert in small-talk, the first series of questions I ask are related to movies. “What genres do you like watching? Who do you like watching movies with?” and finally “Why do you like watching movies?” The first response which I get is escape. Humans live life fast as “it is a race” to quote a character from a movie, and in order to get out of the fast mindset, they go to the movies and get lost in the plot lines and characters. The feeling of choice and freedom that movies gives us, from choosing the movie to living the life of the character during the duration of the movie, is what excites the audience. Pauline Kael, a legendary film critic, also used to believe that movies provide escapism for the audience, before she passed away.

Although everyone has different tastes in movies, they are able to enjoy the same movie in different lights. To relate it back to Bollywood, every movie is packed with action, drama, romance, humor, reality and thriller. This makes sure that every one who watches the movie enjoys it. An example of this, would be a Bollywood movie, 3 idiots, which was about three college boys and their lives individually and together. It is to most of the boys of India pursuing engineering degrees, with or without their will, and the majority of females of India either becoming a doctor or a housewife, proving there is no in between. By the end of the movie, they were able to break this norm and spread the message that one can pursue their own passions. Another reason why this movie was popular in India was because of the humor and romantic factors involved. In a country like India, where majority of the marriages are arranged, people want to be able to fill in the romantic gaps in their lives through the movies.  

There is a clear difference in the light, actors, and movements on the screen which attract the audience versus words on a blank page. In an interview with The New York Times, a social psychologist, Adam Alter, talked about how people of all ages are addicted to the screens. This could also be the reason why people prefer movies over books, even with the same story. In addition, the human brain span is shorter when reading a book or following through with an activity without much light or movement, versus when on a device with light or movement. This truly shows how movies can engage the audience throughout the whole duration of the movie.

It is well known that many movies in the film industry today are inspired by criminals and their crimes, for example Ted Bundy, who inspired both the Ted Bundy Tapes: Conversations with a killer and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. However, what people don’t know is that fact that it can also go the other way, where movies could inspire crimes. An example of this could be the incident when John Hinckley Jr, got inspired by the movie Taxi Driver and decided to shoot then President Ronald Reagan. In addition, we could take into perspective of how the entire attitude of a person could change based off of movies. A personal example of this would be the fact that I am born and brought-up in an Indian family, where everyone knows about everyone else’s life. However, when I started to watch Hollywood movies, during which everyone had their own privacy, I started to crave that privacy and tried to implement that with my parents, however they thought I was acting rude, and now my relationship with my mom is weaker, because of the movies.

It wouldn’t be fair if I simply talk about how they have negatively impacted the community, and so I would like to talk about how it has positively helped the community. An example of this would be another Indian movie, Sairat. Sairat was a romantic movie about inter-caste marriages and honour killings. This movie was able to spark conversation within not only the indan population, but also the western population. This movie inspired a group of over a hundred volunteers to put together an NGO called Sairat Marriage Group which helped run-away couples emotionally and financially. This topic inspired my school’s engish project about this topic and this NGO. I was able to open the minds of multiple people in my class, including my teacher, because of this movie. I believe that the production of this movie has saved many lives, and if this movie wasn’t released, people wouldn’t know about this topic.

To sum up, enjoy the movies, but also be aware of what you are “taking away” from it.  

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