I was just watching a movie whilst sat on the sofa. It’s been a long weekend, and with the wife not feeling great, I have been looking after the kids full time, and staying up late working on my website as well, I predictably fell asleep after about half an hour. The movie in question was In Time, a conceptually interesting science fiction story set in a world where time is the currency, rather than money, and this is displayed on an individuals arm in the form of a digital clock readout, constantly counting down. With the average man struggling to keep the days topped up, as the clock running down to zero means death, instant unavoidable death. A very scary idea really, where there can be no mistakes as failing to keep on top of things will leave you paying the ultimate price with no reprieve. Reviewing the film was not the aim of this blog, but its well worth a watch if you get the chance.
As I said though, I fell asleep not long into the movie, but I have seen it before, so understand the storyline. I must have slept through about half of it, and woke feeling affected by the general mood of the film. A rather melancholy experience where the mortality of the films characters had imprinted itself over my own personal feelings, almost like for the last hour or so, the movie had become my reality. I’m sure you have had similar experiences, sometimes even when I have been awake through a film it can affect me, but more commonly when half or fully asleep. The subconscious takes in what it is experiencing and imprints it over your normal logical understanding of the world. It is very disconcerting, and with a strong enough theme, the residual effect can last for quite some time.
But understanding this, I can see how this could be quite dangerous. For an individual to spend a concentrated amount of time watching violent or homicidal movies, especially in a sleep deprived state, I can see how this might influence their decision making process in the short term, potentially with drastic consequences. I can also see how a young and inexperienced mind could be severely affected by adult themed movies, even whilst asleep, as they are unable to process many subjects objectively, depending on their age. This is why my wife and I have been quite strict on keeping our children away from such influences, ensuring they are upstairs when we indulge in such entertainment. Knowing this has also affected our viewing generally, and whilst the windows for adult content are greatly reduced, the enthusiasm for horror, for example, is just not there any more. We still make mistakes though. Just this last weekend I allowed my one year old to watch a bit of Doctor Who, and he started acting out some of the violence immediately. It was turned over immediately, and Pepper Pig created a calming influence instead.
We should all beware of what we are watching, what we are allowing into our minds, and the minds of those we are there to care for and protect. Whilst the logical concious mind may be telling you one thing, the subconscious may be working on a completely different and potentially damaging level, unbeknown to the individual.
That said, films are only make believe, and the grown adult mind should be able to make that distinction. But when you have mature individuals sending flowers to soap characters who are fictionally in hospital, I mean actually sending flowers as if they were real people, you have to question how deep the influences of popular entertainment really are. For the teenage mind for example, already confused by the sudden influx of data of the world, all mixed up with the developing emotions and general feelings of angst and other confusions, is it any wonder that every now and then someone picks up a gun and walks into their local school, well it doesn’t bear thinking about, but it happens.
So there is a duty of care to the world, to protect the young and easily influenced, but there is also the opportunity to explore different emotions and sensations brought on by the more creative directors. In the right context this can be stimulating, and potentially enlightening, but there are darker possibilities which must be managed all the same.