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Suspending Reality: The role of good media

I needed a fix. My friends were headed to MIP. I was in limbo waiting for two intriguing projects. So I decided to escape to the movies. For all we adults moan about screen time taking kids away from learning, we also know that play is how kids learn. I decided to justify that adage.
October 9, 2013

I needed a fix. My friends were headed to MIP. I was in limbo waiting for two intriguing projects. It was Friday afternoon and too late to delve into something new. And I had this unwritten blog hanging over my head. So I decided to escape to the movies. For all we adults moan about screen time taking kids away from learning, we also know that play is how kids learn. I decided to justify that adage.

What better way to suspend reality than by seeing Gravity, the new Warner Brothers movie about two astronauts free floating in space?  So here’s the spoiler: Escaping to the movies worked. Mind-numbing or mind-blowing, good media  provides nourishment, and not the kind you buy at the concession stand.  It takes you to a brand new world and lets you reflect and refresh. It feeds your mind, your spirit, and your emotions. It sucks you in and spits you out in a different place. Does it do that for preschoolers and high-schoolers? Maybe. But for adults with lists and tasks and worries and responsibilities and half-baked ideas, spending 90 minutes in a tech-induced coma is cathartic.

Gravity was the perfect escape. As soon as I lowered my cheesy plastic 3D glasses, the real world didn’t so much slip away, as become larger than life. Objects hurled towards me and I ducked. I gripped my seat so I wouldn’t spin out of control. Even the silence was quieter. I’m not a 3D neophyte. I embraced the Na’vi. Hugo was one of my favorites. But despite these hits, I don’t really “gravitate” to 3D movies. Too often I find the technology to be distracting rather than enhancing. More like an excuse to charge a higher admission price than to create a better product. Yet watching Gravity, I thought either 3D has reached a new dimension, or director Alfonson Cuarón is a genius. (Probably both.)

The tick-tick-tick of my brain stopped. (How can you think about getting out of jury duty when you’re figuring out how to dodge flying space debris?) I was truly worried about Sandra Bullock. I smiled at objects floating in the spacecraft. I thought about what I would have brought. A family picture reminded me of my own kids’ photo sessions. My heartbeat sped up. My eyes teared. My mind drifted. And then the credits ran. And the lights came on.

This is why I love our industry. When it’s good, it’s great. Media—movies, toys, music, videos, books—can take you out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. Ideally, it should be a seamless journey. It should make you think, even when you don’t think you’re thinking.

I walked slowly back to my car, slipping on my non-cheesy Raybans.  For 90 minutes, my space had disappeared and Gravity took over. Outside the world didn’t seem quite so 3D. Silence was not an option. Sandra Bullock was just an actress. But the experience cleared my head. I actually had some new ideas (including what to write in my blog). I felt a subtle shift in my perspective. I played. And I learned.

Send your out-of-body experiences to wendy@sandboxsummit.org

 

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