The indefinite pause on going to see movies

This morning I read with some happiness that various film publications are refusing to review Disney’s ‘New Mutants’ until they can do so safely.

It seems that Disney hasn’t sent out the common “screener” links for critics to watch the movie at home (a tactic sometimes used when production companies don’t anticipate great reviews), which means that if critics want to review the movie, they’ll need to do so in a theatre setting. And as some doctors are saying, that’s not safe for critics or anyone else to do.

As a result, various publications are simply saying their critics won’t be reviewing this movie, or any others, unless they can do so safely. Which I applaud.

It’s a tricky thing in these (probably mid-)pandemic days of wanting–needing–to get the economy back up and running, which in part requires getting people back to work (and kids back to school despite real safety concerns, which is a whole, likely lengthy post in and of itself), and getting people back to buying more, including in restaurants and entertainment venues.

However, some of us, while certainly wanting to return to restaurants and malls and movie theatres, simply aren’t comfortable doing so yet. As it is, my wife and daughter and I have purchased food to go from local restaurants a number of times in the last couple of months, but it still creates new steps of caution: If we get pizza, I’ll walk it into the house and hold the box(es) open while my wife transfers the food to our own plates, and then I’ll ditch the box(es) before washing up and eating. Drive-throughs are a whole other dance of handling the packages with one hand while trying to handle/hand out the food itself with the other, or sanitizing every time any packaging is handled to be able to use that hand, too. Then when we’re done we throw out the bags, use basic hand wipes to get rid of the (almost inevitable) messy/greasy fingers, and then use hand sanitizer before finally being able to unclench.

(Sidebar: My wife and daughter and I all have varying degrees of asthma, and the kiddo was in the hospital emergency ward three times over March Break alone for her body reacting very badly to what amounted to a case of croup, demonstrating how dangerous lung-centric health issues can be for her. So when everyone was put in isolation, for her and ourselves, we got in the habit early and regularly of Lysol-wiping down or washing everything that came into the house that couldn’t just sit untouched for 72 hours, because of course who knows who touched any of that, or if they were unknowingly infected with Covid-19? Since then, more and more reputable reports are being released saying that there remains zero confirmed cases of Covid-19 caught from touching infected surfaces, and the real focus should be on washing hands and not touching your face and wearing masks when outside the house, where you should keep a safe distance from others. However, the wiping down is an undeniable habit for us at this point, so we’re trying to wind it down and are making progress there, but logic and sound science aside, it admittedly feels a bit off to not do it at all. Hence the handling of restaurant food packaging to directly using the same hands to eat with–without a stop in between to wash up or at least use sanitizer–isn’t happening yet.)

We want our local businesses to do well, and we’re getting better at (carefully) pushing our boundaries of comfort a bit at a time to get back to doing that, but there are some things that are simply not going to happen yet, and going into restaurants to eat is included in that. Same with going into theatres, since we’d be sitting in a room where 50 people are allowed, who have of course been told they can take off their masks while they’re eating and drinking (and who doesn’t munch and drink all the way through a movie?). That simply isn’t in our comfort zone yet. And until we get some kind of confirmation that theatres are as safe to go to as they were pre-pandemic (hey, maybe tomorrow scientists will verify conclusively that ithis virus can’t be transmitted in an environment where the scent of popcorn is in the air), we’ll simply not be going into any movie theatres, full stop. We’d of course like to see them stay in business, but in short, not at the expense of risking our health to do it.

The putting people in harm’s way, or inviting people to put themselves in harm’s way, in order to get the economy rolling again is something I’m at odds with, to say the least.

It could, and no doubt will be argued by some that an economic system that requires people to put themselves in harm’s way in order to keep that system alive isn’t a system worth supporting. That’s a whole can of worms I’m not nearly well-read enough to get into in much detail. For now, suffice to say that capitalism has a lot going for it, but it’s not without its flaws. Among them, I think its hardcore proponents asking people to willingly lay down their lives to make it operate is sheer insanity.

So to read that people (and even companies employing them) are willing to take a stand for themselves and others when asked to take needless risks like review movies, of all things, brought a smile to my face this morning.

It’s a small thing, and maybe not even surprising. But hey, this is 2020, a year that keeps taking heavy physical, mental, and spiritual tolls on everyone. Get your happiness when and where you can.

Thanks to the CBC Arts newsletter for the first two links.