KTHNXBYE: Chinese Theaters Stream Texts on Screen


the horror.

ON ANY given  day you might check your Facebook Newsfeed and see a “friend” or two lamenting the evils of social media and their desire to jump ship when it comes to all things internet. Which, by the way, doesn’t make much sense, because if you have to go to Twitter to tell people you’re leaving Twitter — instead of just not logging into Twitter — doesn’t that kind of defeat the point? Anyways.

While many people think that less social media in life is the answer towards healing that relationship with the significant other, the drought sucking California dry, the problem with ISIS, or whatever other ill that plagues you, China is taking a different approach. They have so wholeheartedly embraced the phone-in-hand phenomenon that they are taking things to the next level (is that even possible?) and incorporating phone use into the movie theaters… one of the last phone-free sanctuaries left on this planet.

The concept utilizes “bullet screens,” which basically broadcast texts from within the room while the movie is playing. The point, presumably, is to have an ongoing conversation about the the film at hand — or on screen, rather — with the rest of the room, minus the speaking.

At the moment, the creation is being tested in a few different theaters and is being marketed towards the younger folk who watch most of their movies via on-the-go media applications as it is. So, as backwards and annoying as this sounds, it can perhaps be taken as an attempt to ground everyone in one spot, but without stripping them of their texting personas. Because apparently, two hours is much too long to have no idea of who you are.

One box office manager said:

“People like it right now, as it’s a new thing. In the long term, it might affect people’s concentration. We are trying to continue with some bullet screen activities and play some films that young people like. Time will tell.”

The reviews from movie goers are totally mixed, with some thrilled to be tapped in non-stop, while others feel more than a little distracted. Another potential hiccup in implementing this concept on a large-scale, permanent basis is that a writer must sign a contract with a producer to allow a bullet screen to be placed on their film.

Or perhaps this will open up an entirely new genre of film production.  Who knows?

For now, though, on behalf of all the movie-going adults who just want to get away from the worries of real life for a few hours: please, let’s leave screen-texting to China so we can focus on Ryan Gosling in all his never-ending glory without interruption.

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