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Commentary: Covid and Movies

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“Before the pandemic, I would anticipate a movie coming out. Now, I see a trailer for a movie and then all of a sudden it’s in theaters. It’s like … what just happened?” 

My brother made this comment over Thanksgiving break when I brought up the new “Ghostbusters” movie being released. And though that fact hadn’t hit me beforehand, when he mentioned it, it made total sense. 

New movies coming out just don’t hit the same as they once did. 

If COVID wasn’t a thing, I guarantee you I would be first in line to see “Shang-Chi,” “Eternals,” “Tenet,” “Cherry” or literally any other movie that piqued my interest. Now, I’m weighing if I even want to see a movie in theaters in the first place. 

Yes, I have seen a few here and there. I’ve seen “Venom 2,” “No Time to Die,” “Last Night in Soho” and “Antlers” all within the span of a few months (I would highly recommend all of them, by the way). And though it was nice to sit back and be in a theater again, something just feels off. 

In one of my previous articles, I wrote how being at a concert I went to this summer was super fun, but also super weird and almost like a “this isn’t right” kind of feeling. If the all-clear was given, I probably would have felt differently. But it wasn’t. We’re still in the thick of this thing. 

The same thing is applying to movie theaters nowadays. 

Maybe it’s because COVID has sucked the joy out of things that used to seem completely joyful. Maybe it’s because when we see these characters on screen, they are interacting in a world that we yearn to return to; a world free of masks, social distancing, vaccine wars, and constant Covid tests. 

Plus, blockbuster movies such as “Dune” have gone straight to streaming services. Though I think that this is (in some cases) a smart move for movie studios, it’s also a strange feeling. It used to be that if I wanted to go see a movie, I would get a bunch of my friends together and we’d go to the theater, surrounded by people who wanted to take in the same experience as us. Now, I’m either watching it at home by myself or with a few friends. 

I love movies. I always have. But, like many, many other things, COVID has stripped away part of that experience. And I think that the part stripped away was the simplicity of it. As I mentioned, I could ask a friend if they wanted to go to a theater. Now, we have to take in the risks of seeing a movie in a crowded theater. The same applies to any crowded event — whether that be parties, trips, shopping, concerts, whatever. We simply can’t go to these events anymore without thinking; we are worried that we may catch this dreaded virus. 

So as I look back, not only am I not as hyped up for movies as I once was (with a few exceptions; I’m going to be first in line for the new “Spider-Man” movie if I have to camp outside two days beforehand), the same applies to other crowded events. It’s not that I don’t love them or don’t want to experience them, but it’s just so mentally complicated. But hopefully, as we edge to the two years mark of this pandemic, we won’t have to have the thought of “will I catch COVID?” in the back of our minds next time we go see a movie in theaters.

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