I don’t think I cherished the movie theater experience enough the last time it happened.
Granted, it could have been because it was a predictably awful movie (“The Hunt” — remember that?) on an afternoon when no one was in the theater besides a handful of other movie critics.
As we shuffled out of the theater, we all had no idea that would be our last communal viewing for the foreseeable future. Even as theaters open up, I don’t see a reason to go back.
This is not to discourage others from going who feel they’re safe enough to escape our grim reality and get that two-hour escape. By all means, support local independent theaters like Screenland Armour in Kansas City and the Fox Theatre in Atchison, Kansas. They’re doing the work to keep their staff and viewers safe.
But as the bigger theaters like AMC and Regal plan to be fully open by mid-July, I don’t see an urgent need to buy a movie ticket. Until the science is more clear on how safe it is to share an air-conditioned room with strangers for two hours and the summer movie slate, which currently only includes “Tenet” and “Mulan,” is a bit more stable, I’m not feeling the same urge that I indulged on a weekly basis for decades.
This is an issue that I’ve been wrestling with ever since it was clear that, despite COVID-19 numbers going up, the state was going to reopen regardless. I want to support the local bars, restaurants and entertainment venues I frequented before the shutdown. I know they’ve all been hurting and need the help. For now, I’ll have to find other ways to support them.
Take a journey around any city, be it St. Joseph or Kansas City, to multiple establishments and you’ll see too many people acting like we’re done with COVID-19 and there’s no need to worry. There’s no masks, no distancing and no sense that what we’ve gone through is serious and still happening.
I don’t trust those people enough to share a small venue or even a movie theater enacting social distancing standards. They clearly don’t care about anyone else’s health.
Of the many problems I’ve had with this pandemic, one of the bigger ones is that people tend to not believe something is serious until it affects them directly. Missouri has thankfully not been hit hard as other places. But, as said before, I feel like us being so cavalier about not protecting ourselves now will mean dire things for the future.
I feel I’m not alone in thinking all of this. I have many like-minded friends who agree, but I also know so many who want to dive back in to the way things were at breakneck speeds. Arguments with the latter have been tense.
So while I long to enter into the atmosphere of freshly cooked popcorn, roaring crowds and communal experiences, I don’t feel like it’s the right time for me and I’m not sure when that moment will come. But I hope the bar, theater and venue owners will be supported well by those who do go out, and hopefully we’ll all be careful enough for everyone to finally feel safe again to take in some entertainment.