Dear ‘Mudge: About your addiction to TV

Dear ‘Mudge,

I’ve been thinking about the phenomena of consuming visual-aural narrative and how I believe our minds react and respond to the sequential stimulation they offer. Or, to put it another way, why do movies engage us so?

I’m sitting here watching yet another movie I’ve seen a half dozen times, Wolverine. Regardless of what one’s opinion is of this one film, to me it’s engrossing at times, flippant or amusing at others. It, like its hundreds of thousands of brethren, does something to my brain, it captivates me — for a time.

And then it’s over. The sequence of events completes and what was once riveting, is now just a memory of bits and pieces that only vaguely come to mind when I concentrate on them. Which I don’t.

In-movie-mind is this experience which is different than normal existence. We can think about scenes in a film or captivating television show but these thoughts are nothing like consuming the media itself. Watching one is like being there, in the moment — at least with a good one. And although one may have previously viewed the cinematic experience before, one can still drift into it and relive it upon watching it again.

What is this sensation? Why and how is it different than normal experiential life?

Have you thought about this curiosity yourself?

Does your trailer come with an in-home theater?



Had to throw in a gratuitous flickpic cuz, you know, pictures ‘n posts.

The Wolverine Review

15 thoughts on “Dear ‘Mudge: About your addiction to TV

  1. I just like looking at stuff. And by that, I mean I’m a visual learner who’s always preferred images to text. As many people who know me know, I write by picturing the scene or watching people have conversations in my mind and then write what I see. Maybe that’s why I struggle so much with math–it’s just too abstract sometimes. As for rewatching movies, it’s a comfort thing for me. I know exactly what’s going to happen so there’s no anxiety to exacerbate my existing anxiety!

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  2. Hey this is a very interesting topic. I am definitely someone guilty of rewatching stuff. My guy and I do that too. Certain things we’ve watched a billion times. I wonder why it is that we become so engrossed in watching. I always have to have the lights off when I’m watching movies for this reason. I need to think about this more but you’ve hit upon something deep here.

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    1. I suspect that due to our overly large visual cortex, we are prone to be consumed by visual presentations. And that what doodlediddy (Mike) said about our awareness and anticipation of favorite scenes, that we’re easily captivated by engaging visible stimulation.
      It’s a thing, I’m sure of it.

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  3. The characteristics of the human mind is the way we survive in a dangerous world. Like all mammals our minds are always on the lookout for danger.

    Like you, I have watched some movies over and over again. Some make me laugh out loud, some make me feel wonderful when things work out for the characters. Some make me get up and dance to the underlying sound tract. Despite knowing what is going to happen the feelings aroused remain strong as if new and the results still remain exciting in the moment. I wait in eager anticipation to see some scenes I know are coming and can’t wait for them to arrive in the now moment of my present watching and hearing.

    Our evolutionary past made us creatures that focus keenly on what we see and hear before us. As newborn babies implant in their consciousness their mother face and pull back from other faces we evaluate what we see in terms of safe and unsafe – the roar of a predator, the shape of a poisonous snake, the hugs of a parents. This is essential for survival in our dangerous world.

    The power of visual and auditory stimulus to latch on to our attention is one of the reason I think it is so hard to write a compelling story. Reading a written work requires us to look in a different way. The writer needs to give us characters and events and wording that taps into our visual and auditory nature. Quite a challenge, but when one becomes entranced with characters and their situations it all works if not to the same level as the visual and auditory world we evolved to life in. Bummer for the writer unless one is writing to make a screen play of staged play with real life breathing people to perform it in front of real life people viewing it in their real time.

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  4. Why do movies engage us so? Because the characters are unchanging and consistent. Wolverine will always act like wolverine for those two hours, Buffy will always behave like Buffy for as long as the series continues. This is the consistency people need and cannot find in real life. Now, I might have made this shit up or read itsomewhere. Can’t remember which but it doesn’t matter.

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  5. I rarely explicitly choose to rewatch movies. Although there are some, if they come on TV, I might zone out on for a while. But there are others, despite enjoying them, I have no desire to watch again. An interesting question is, what makes a movie rewatchable? It seems like the soundtrack has something to do with it, and maybe the overall visual experience. If done well, you’re experiencing the performance rather than the story.

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    1. I rarely sit down to rewatch a movie. This one was on TV, as you said, and I was idle so…
      The performance, the choreography, the pageantry, the stunts, the quips and looks and… All that which makes up a theatrical presentation. It’s a different immersion than reading or watching the news or doing one’s work. Music might be crucial component.

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  6. What one does with one’s suspension of disbelief and feeling of “presence” in one’s personal choice of A/V is down to one’s ability to immerse one’s emotional capital by distancing one’s self from the artefact of the medium one is subscribing too at, or in, the moment of suspension. One might enjoy a medium without complete depth of immersion if the artefact presents much the same one’s old friend which gives one satisfaction on two levels of participation. Fictional Emotion and Artefact appreciation. Some of the methodology is ancient, some more clearly and recently identified by the likes of Kelly and Meyers – Briggs who may be directly blamed for the explosion “focus groups” and targeted marketing since the 50s as the face of the cultural became more diverse than simple townies and hicks.

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  7. I never really understood people who rewatch the same movie over and over again. Since I forget things like movies quite quickly, I don’t have issues with rewatching something out of boredom a year or more later. But to watch something every week or so just because you ‘like it’ so much? Just relive it in your head! That’s what I do with the things I enjoy. Why do you need to rewatch/reread something you can literally quote? It’s just odd to me.

    I find it harder and harder to find movies, which envelop me so tightly as you describe.

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    1. I suppose it’s not the act of rewatching I was referring to. It’s the act of watching at all. And the state of mind one enters when watching is vastly different than normal cognitive existence.
      But rewatching (every week? Hell no, once every few years, maybe), rewatching provides the same mental immersion. It’s different from normal analytic thought.
      It’s in the moment, scene to scene engagement that is unique. Recalling special scenes is not the same. The scenes must be viewed in order and contiguously for this phenomena to take place.

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          1. if that’s true, then there’s a great short story out there somewhere, found it once a long time go titled “An Endless Supply of 35MM Film.” wherein the handsomest lad in the valley is married to the dullest, most unattractive but steadfast and loyal woman in same valley. The premise being he’s around beautiful women all day long who swoon when he walks by, but he devoutly boards the bus and heads home every night instead of buffing the swooners. Because at home, with the lights out, he has this wonderful slide show going in his head…Immersion in Fictional Emotion, no Artefact emotion.

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