I overpay to see a film in a Ugandan theatre. The popcorn is burnt, the seats outdated. The lighting seems amateurish but it’s the best they’ve got. Annoying and unnecessarily loud ads fill the minutes before the film usually reserved for mouthwatering previews.
But the biggest crime of all comes after the climax. After the music sweeps the action away and displays the director’s name. The film simply is cut off. The lights come on immediately. A trained audience (used to this kind of treatment) quickly stands and dumps their trash on the ground. It’s someone else’s job to keep the theatre clean. They scurry to the bathroom or out to their cars. Back into a society that can’t afford to see a movie in a theatre like this. The general population watches movies illegally downloaded on DVD. And these films too cut the credits.
Yes, the credits. The part of the film which offers to the public all those responsible for the production. All the effects, the editing, the idea, heck even the actors themselves are assembled here in black and white for the adorning eyes to see. They spill where the shots were filmed, they explain who assisted with the wardrobe, the handling of animals. This is the part of the movie where you may see a name you know. A grip, a shopper, a stylist, a stunt woman. These are the people who never get credit… because you choose not to read their names. You spend money to sit in a room for 120 minutes but for some reason you can’t stand to sit for another two. You must be pretty important that two minutes is such a huge sacrifice for you. This habit is a symptom of a much larger problem. That’s is why I am taking the time to write about it. It’s not just about film making. This lack of caring is now common in our short attention society. We discount the real efforts made by so many. We want to simplify everything. We don’t want to read 200 names, we want one. And because of this cop out… this reckless blind eye turned towards hard work and passion. We end up rewarding those who can dupe us. We offer our allegiance to anyone who can appeal to our emotions. We don’t care how they got there. We don’t care who they walked on. We WANT it to be simple so we reward those who offer us that simplicity.
But on a personal level, we do the opposite. When we see the work that goes into our projects in life… when we can taste the sweat, then we honor those in the credits. When a dad drives his son to soccer practice and a mom shops for snacks for the team. When the son puts in hours of effort every day after school. When the parents reach out to the coach for advice on how to help their son prepare for the balancing of a tough schedule and schoolwork coming up. The parents know at the end of the season how many hands were responsible for the team’s success. They know the medical staff by name, they know the other parents, the head of the athletic department who had to prioritize the team’s deep playoff run over other more profitable sports. Even though the kid who scored the hat trick in the final got all the headlines, you refuse to allow it to be that simple. You don’t discount your own son’s efforts. You don’t dismiss the coach. You don’t ignore the athletic director. You don’t bend over backwards to worship the boots that scored those three goals in the final. No. Because in real life, people understand how it always takes a village. By keeping our attention on public figures, we don’t allow them to get away with what they’ve become accustomed to. The things we don’t like about our government are on US. The things we don’t like about the media are on US. Because each drop of water follows the laws of physics… a thunderous river becomes a powerful force that can cut through rock. The same is true with humanity. If we share a common belief we do anything. But when we throw our trash on the floor and allow the projectionist to cut the credits… we walk back out into a society ready to survive on the crumbs of those we’ve allowed to take power over us. We suffer from our own ignorance and inaction. We smile during the two-hour movie, and suffer the other 22 hours of the day. If only we made time for the two minutes…