You’re watching a movie in which two characters are in the midst of an intense conversation about that giant asteroid that is on a direct path to crashing into the Pentagon when all of a sudden on of them says, “Hold that thought — gotta pee!” and darts off screen.
Doesn’t happen much, does it? As a matter of fact, unless it’s directly related to the advancement of the plot, we never see these real-world moments happen on screen. Are there consequences to that? Grae Drake, movie critic at movies.com, thinks so.
“I think the reason that I’m most indignant about this topic is that movies are single-handedly reinforcing why it’s cooler to be a movie star than it is to be a real person,” she says. “Because all of these menial tasks that make up a life are completely edited out of a representation of life, therefore making us think that being normal is totally lame.”
That’s just the point, argues Dr. Tonia M. Edwards, film and media professor at Georgia State University.
“Those mundane moments are often removed because Hollywood encourages escape from everyday life. By removing the often tedious aspects of everyday life from the story being told, it allows the viewer to distance themselves from a life in which they spend large portions of their days doing relatively unexciting things” she says, but adds that a certain brand of film far removed from Hollywood, chooses to emphasize the boring side of life in order to make an artistic statement.
“European Art Cinema, for example, often chooses to include moments and various elements simply because they reinforce the realistic qualities of a story. Typically, they do this in order to force people to face real life issues.”
Given that ‘art cinema’ doesn’t often make it to the multiplex, it’s a fair guess that most people aren’t looking for reality. Christopher Sharrett, professor of film studies at Seton Hall, explains why.
“Today’s movies emphasize spectacle and special effects. Writing takes a back seat, and with it real human concerns,” he says. “Observing real human concerns are not, sad to say, what the audience has been trained to want, with a few exceptions.”