This may come as a shock to many of you reading this, but I love movies (gasp!) From science fiction to drama, I love almost all kinds of genres and sub-genres. While film is my area of expertise, I enjoy most artistic platforms and I see the unique aspects each of them brings to the table. I love books for the emphasis put on the reader having to use their imagination to visualize the story. I love films and comics for their emphasis on visuals and how they can tell compelling stories using visual language. I love video games for their ability to allow a person to engage and influence the game's story, world, and characters with their personal input. However, the best aspect, which encompasses all forms of art, is the ability to create meaningful social connections through a shared experience.
This is the power all art has and almost all art strives for. Art has been the glue that has held various human beings and various cultures together. Art is what outsiders tend to remember a culture for. When people think of Ancient Egypt they think of the Sphinx, the Pyramids, and the beautifully carved hieroglyphs. Art has the capacity to create meaningful interactions on a personal level as well. Various forms of art can spark discussion between family, friends, or complete strangers who can eventually become good friends. That's where something like film can help a person make friends or, more specifically, help someone like me make friends. Yes, this is another personal story, but I feel like it reflects a common experience.
When I was young and in grade-school, I had a hard time making friends due to my shyness. It's a problem I still have from time to time when being introduced to new people (though I am older and more confident these days so it, thankfully, doesn't happen as often). However, I remember how intimidating starting school for the first time. It was overwhelming and I didn't really know anyone. However, over time I eventually came across kids who shared a similar interest with me, movies. We would talk day and night about the recent films that came out at the time, such as Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man", "Iron Man", "Toy Story 2", and "Pirates of the Caribbean". There was, however, always one film series we would always discuss and any readers of my previous works probably know what that is... and for those who don't it's "Star Wars".
My friends and I are obsessed with "Star Wars". We love the Original Trilogy. We tolerate the Prequel Trilogy to our best efforts. We read the books and comic books. We played the video games and read countless amounts of books explaining the deep lore and history of the entire galaxy. We watched the various animated series as well. Since we grew up around the time the Prequels were released, we would go to the theaters and watch them together. Nothing matches going to see a film with your closest friends in a theater with other people who share the same passion you do. That's what I've loved most about being in this fandom. I've met some of the friendliest people while at the theater. Nothing matches the experience I had on opening night for "The Avengers". I got to watch people cheer and have fun throughout the movie. To this day it's one of the best experiences I've had at the theater.
These films have created friendships that I still have to this day. However, I don't want you to think that this is another film enthusiast proclaiming the superiority of theaters over the "age of Netflix". In all honesty, I adore what Netflix and similar streaming services have accomplished. While, in my mind, I will always love the social experience of seeing movies in a theater with hundreds of people, streaming services have allowed easier access to a variety of obscure films I could only dream of seeing when I was younger. These services have given people who are disabled and unable to leave their home a way to view the T.V. shows and films they want to see. Many people have criticized streaming services because the ability to view films from your home destroys the social atmosphere created by cinemas. However, I strongly disagree with that argument.
My friends and I have had some of the best times of our lives looking up obscure "B-movies" and television shows on Netflix and Hulu. We would laugh and poke fun at whatever we were watching. Streaming services have great social potential and has the ability to connect even more people through the arts of film, television, and video games. I wrote this article to express the personal and cultural importance art, such as film, has with people. Many people these days are willing to write off art as frivolous and unimportant, but nothing can be further from the truth. I know I used "Star Wars" as a personal example, but it also has cultural significance too. The "Star Wars" franchise has evolved from a single film trilogy to a vast universe of books, T.V., and video games that people have enjoyed all over the world. I get to meet people from different countries, whom I may never have met if it wasn't for my love of "Star Wars".
"Star Wars" has also become a sort of cultural landmark for America. When a new "Star Wars" film opens, people pack the theaters. When foreigners think of Hollywood and the American Film Industry, one of the first things that comes to mind is "Star Wars". This one film series has become as synonymous with America as baseball. Art becomes a part of a civilization's culture, allowing it to shape its ideals and its people. Films, such as "Star Wars", encouraged me to make friends and discuss interesting ideas with them. Films encourage ideas and social commentary within communities. They have the power to express a culture's ideals and shape them. Art, especially film, is important because it gives us the ability to form lasting human connections through by letting us share our experiences with each other.