A long, long while back, I wrote my five reasons for not going to the cinema anymore, and occasionally if I’m ever asked why I dislike watching films on the big screen, I point people towards that post. All of it still holds true, and as I get more cranky and my TV setup at home gets more awesome, there’s less of a reason to fork out for cinema tickets for any blockbuster release.
However, I also think I need to add another bullet point to the list. Problem number six: You can’t pause in the cinema.
The reasons for pausing are wide and varied, including but not limited to bathroom breaks, getting more wine, interruptions to google things we don’t know about, discussions to catch up what’s going on when one person (usually me) has lost the plot, and more and more these days, just to pause and revel in what incredible or brilliant thing has just happened on screen.
I can’t pinpoint why exactly our use of pausing has increased exponentially, but I’ve narrowed it down to three explanations. The first being that having so much control over what we watch and when we watch it has spoiled us to the point where we decide when to take breaks and chatter, and split the shows up into our own mini segments as and when we please. Instead of waiting to make a cup of tea in the ad break, you just hit pause and go when you’re ready. Recently, we happened to catch one of the new episodes of Top Gear live in all its glory and were caught out by not being able to pause. (Granted, instead we just waited to talk all over the dull celebrity interview section.)
I’m also convinced part of it is a factor of getting a bit older – not so much in terms of slower reflexes and poorer memories (although they definitely apply in my case), but just in having so much to think about. I understand lots more references than I used to, and that in turn makes me want to fully understand every second of what I’m watching. My addled brain also dislikes waiting until the end of something to share a thought or opinion, because if it’s a film especially, the chances are I will have forgotten it by the closing credits!
It’s also got a lot to do with how fast-paced things are on screen at the moment. We’ve been watching a lot of comedies, and you just have to take a moment to indulge in your laughter in pause mode, otherwise you miss a hundred more jokes. We used to watch things over again, and for a twenty minute TV episode that’s doable, but for a ninety minute film, that’s not the ideal situation. I think there’s a correlation between this and the fact that new generations are enjoying shorter form content more and more – it’s because so much more is packed in to such a short space of time.
Whatever the reason, I can only give thanks to whoever invented the pause button for how many times it has come to our aid and made our TV and film watching experience that much more pleasurable. I think pause, and the plus or minus ten seconds button, are how everything should be controlled from now on.