Not too long ago, my boyfriend, Abel, and myself went to the movies on a Saturday evening. This was a mistake. Not only is Saturday NOT cheap Tuesday, but it’s also prime-time movie going. You know what was also a mistake? Going to the movies at 7:20. Saturday is prime movie night, and the hour of 7 seems to be the favourite time slot. Luckily, we had booked our tickets online. Things seemed easy because of this… we walked up to a machine, scanned a barcode that was downloaded onto my mobile, and then our tickets were printed out. How exciting and innovative. Times are changing. But then, if you had pre-ordered your tickets, you were sent to a separate, self-serve concession stand to buy your food and beverages. ‘Cool, we don’t have to talk to any people,’ we thought. We stood in that self-serve line for a good 20 minutes. No one moved. Time stood still. We were going to be quite late to our film, because there were some imbeciles up the front who either a) didn’t know how to use the machine or b) didn’t decide what they wanted to order until they got to the front of the line. We watched as members of the line exited and went to stand in the normal concession line. We felt like fools, we had wasted so much time. But more importantly, what bothered me, was the installation of this self-serve food line, at all. It was ridiculous, it’s supposed to speed up the process but all it did was slow everything down. No sorry– stop everything completely.
Anyways, we finally made it into our seats. Side seats, which we had booked specifically to avoid people. Bit of a joke on us, due to the time and day of the week, the entire cinema was completely packed and we spent the next 2 hours sitting next to a 17 year-old couple, canoodling.
Hägerstrand (Corbett 2001) talks about three categories of “constraints”/limitations in regards to human spatial activity. I would like to touch briefly on how these came into play during my specific cinematic experience. So firstly, we’ve got capability. For Abel and I, getting to the movies was quite simple, because we both have our licences and both have cars. We usually leave approximately 20 minutes to arrive there so we have plenty of time to get food, drinks etc. A certain problem that arose on this particular Saturday evening (and honestly, this problem was only a problem BECAUSE it was a Saturday evening), was the lack of parking, This was obviously because so many people were watching a movie, or eating at one of the nearby restaurants. And because these people were occupied by their films or their meals, their cars were not in operation and hence sat heavily and still in the carpark.
So next, we have the constraint of ‘coupling’. We were required to be in a specific place for a certain amount of time in order to view and consume the film. Normally, time seems to stop or become irrelevant when you’re in the cinema. You become so deeply immersed in the film, in the story and the lives of the characters, that you forget what’s on the outside of the cinema’s walls. On this evening, this was not the case. The movie we had selected to watch, ‘Sausage Party’, was ridiculously stupid and cringeworthy and while I sat there, waiting for it to get better, I also looked at the time on my watch, praying for it to end.
Thirdly, we’ve got the constraint of authority. This didn’t come too much into play during our trip to the cinemas. In fact, there was more a lack of authority due to all the self-serve counters on offer.
Regardless, we had a nice evening. We watched a shit movie. We will never go back on a Saturday night. But regardless. We had a nice evening.
Corbett, J. (2001). Torsten Hägerstrand: Time Geography. Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science.