I’ve known for a long time that I’m a chronic rewatcher who prefers television to movies. Watching one thing for 2 hours just feels so much less appealing than watching an entire season of a show for 10 hours. That’s just how it is. I don’t make the rules.
The emotional investment of watching a movie just feels similar to that of watching a new show — I get totally engrossed, only for it to end. But with movies, I’ve come to realize that the emotional depth is just so much greater. Movies are immersive. Without that break in between episodes that you get with TV shows, you feel like you’re actually existing in the world created by a movie. I’ve never been the biggest fan of movie theaters in general, but watching movies in movie theaters only makes the experience more immersive. Plunged into darkness with the screen (and world) in front of you as a beacon…how can you not feel like you’re in the movie at that point?
It’s not only with movies, however. I’ve realized that I have similar feelings about books and video games, too. I love reading books and playing video games, but I cringe away from starting new ones. I just know that it’s going to cause me pain once it ends, so what’s the point?
My friend put this tumblr post by leviosadraco on Facebook recently, and it struck me…this was precisely why I struggle with new books, movies, and sometimes video games. It’s that damn immersive quality that makes me feel things. How dare it.
When I read this, I very excitedly reached out to my blogging buddy Bill (who’s always down for an adventure) to see if he also wanted to write about it, and he very enthusiastically agreed. His post can be found here!
When I read a particularly good book, watch a movie that I like, or play a video game that I really vibe with, I get totally absorbed. Like many other people who struggle with delayed gratification, I also won’t put the book/video game controller down, even when I don’t feel like reading/playing anymore. The adventure isn’t over! How can I stop when the adventure isn’t over?!
Later in the day, I will have a fleeting moment of nostalgia, and my brain will say “where were we earlier? I want to go back there!” And then the realization hits that the world that I felt I was in earlier that day doesn’t exist, it is only a book/movie/video game…and I feel sad. I legitimately feel like I was existing in a different place before, and my brain has trouble coping with the fact that that place doesn’t actually exist. I will also spend all night dreaming about it — I cannot tell you how many “Night In the Woods” dreams I’ve had in the past few months…
Because of this sadness, starting a new book, playing a new video game, or watching a new movie is particularly daunting. You want me to invest myself emotionally, to fall absolutely in love with something, only for that thing to end?! WHAT AM I, MADE OF STONE?!
I finished the book Midnight Sun a few months ago (yeah, yeah, don’t judge me), and I realized just how much I love reading. While I may really enjoy watching TV, reading delivers a satisfaction that television just can’t. I feel good when I read. Every time I picked the book up to continue reading it, I remembered again how good reading feels. I would have to keep up reading instead of simply doomscrolling all day. Reading is awesome!
Since I’ve finished it, I’ve bought countless other awesome-sounding books…and I haven’t been able to start any of them. Subconsciously (as well as consciously), I know that I’m going to get attached to the characters and the world and be destroyed when the book ends. So let’s never open myself up to that pain again! Woohoo!
So instead, I reread, rewatch, and replay.
Of course, this all being said, I would not give up all of the feelings about my favorite books, video games, and movies for anything. Just because I can’t live in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs doesn’t mean that I regret the attachment that I have to it. Logically, this also means that I will find other things that I love just as much, and I cannot find those things without actually experiencing new things.
I wouldn’t have felt moved by any movies at all if I didn’t give the occasional movie a chance. I wouldn’t have found “Night in the Woods” if I didn’t pick up my controller again after finishing “Spiritfarer.” I would never have experienced the masterpiece of Before I Fall if I was still only reading Twilight novels (although I obviously haven’t gotten that monkey completely off my back).
Realistically, I know that the pain in recognizing that something isn’t real is all because I’ve fallen in love with it, which I guess I should be seeing as a good thing…
After all, ‘tis better to have been destroyed by realizing that the imaginary world that you loved isn’t real repeatedly than to never love an imaginary world at all.