It isn’t any surprise that people seem to hold shorter attention spans than they did a few generations before. Thanks to social media, people have the notion to focus upon a sight, sound, or a combination of both for a fixed period of time, only to focus upon some other sight and/or sound, no matter what that element may be.
And it appears that the more robust one is, their attention span is even shorter. These robust types tend to hold interest with a number of audio and visuals going on all at the same time. And thanks to sources such as Twitter and Tic-Tok, one can capture the comprehension of reading, seeing, or hearing something in just a few seconds. If they are really interested in what they are seeing or hearing, the length of time devoted to those elements runs longer. Not necessary to any massive amount of time, but the notions still exist.
But this article isn’t written to criticize any person or thing regarding this short attention span crisis. It’s just the aspect to note that the shorter one’s stimulus is, the better it can be for the consumer. And if there is more content to the stimulus, any device longer can be made up just to become the quality that is there, rather than the quantity of said content.
Of course, such a finding is far from being newly discovered. Multitasking, the emotional and physical task of doing more than one thing at a time, has been studied and noted as human nature for years. This writer recalls seeing a segment on a local TV show created for adolescents that was entitled INK: Interesting News for Kids, that had a report to state that kids of the present day were able to do things such as read a passage from a book, listen to the radio, as well as engage in a conversation with another person (in this case, an adult) all at the same time and knew what they were reading, what music they were hearing, and what the small talk was all about. And this was something unique for kids of that era–yours truly included. The segment ended with the on-camera hosts consisting of a perky young man, an even perkier young woman, and some hand puppets(!) saying that if your parents said for you to do your homework with the radio off, tell them you are able to talk to them, write your assignments, and hear your top-40 hits all at the same time and succeed with everything. And for the record, I saw this report back in 1974 and I did eventually survive multitasking. Perhaps not so much with the homework part, but I was able to keep up with the musical rotation playlist as programmed on WLS.
But kids do grow up as adults, and their short attention spans progressed as the media did. In addition to traditional TV and radio, there’s the ever loving social media. Twitter was once known to have people “tweet” their musings at the maximum of 140 characters for tweet. Vine, a once profound social media source where people could create video content ranging for only a few seconds of length, became the rage. Eventually, Vine withered, and Tic-Tok stepped in with the same notion in mind, having its creators presenting short and sweet video elements for the purpose of personal expression, as well as the notion of perhaps bringing in some fame. Both platforms later extended its running times and typing spaces. But the real meaning of “short and sweet” is key.
Even TV commercials have since entered that fray. Back in the days when yours truly became embraced in TV, commercials tended to run for sixty seconds. Then came the thirty second spot. Sometimes the 30 second version was a cut down of the longer 60 second ad. In recent times, there have been fifteen and ten second spots. This shorter version emerged through social media, and was later adapted for traditional TV and not-so-traditional streaming.
But what about media that runs a lot longer than a minute, or even for more than an hour? Can anyone in this post-modern period of “TV everywhere” can sit through some kind of programming and embrace and capture it all through their comprehension without a stumble?
The answer to that question is a brief “yes”, just as long as the media holds a sense of quality and has an appeal to the consumer of the said product.
A great example of this is what’s known as binge watching. This is the task where one views a specific TV series consisting of a multitude of episodes or installments one after another all at the same time. This form of viewing or binging was only possible back in the early days of home video.
In the 1980’s when folks obtained a video cassette recorder (VCR), they would record off-air episodes of a TV series that they had found appealing. They would record each episode either on a weekly basis for newer programs or on a daily basis for a show that was syndicated as reruns of an older series. One series that was notorious for this mass recording was the 1960’s sci-fi series Star Trek. These folks would program their VCR to the same station at the same time of day where Star Trek was airing in their local communities. They would keep these tapes for later watching. And when they did, they watched one episode after another, only to later fast forward the recordings past the commercials aired on the local station to get back with the program. They would keep the tapes of multiple Star Treks in their collection for years, only later to be forgotten or in many cases, abandoned. This is the reason why this writer has these long forgotten collections of Star Trek reruns as recorded off the air from stations in Minneapolis, Dallas, Los Angeles, and even from a station in Toledo, Ohio. (WTOL-TV in case anyone is keeping track!)
When it comes to movies, that’s another story. When one watches a movie in a theater, there is no option to place the visuals on “pause” if one wanted to, let’s say, get some snacks from the concession stand or to answer the call of nature. One had to sit through the movie for its entire running time. You really can’t gawk on your phone during the movie as one would annoy others in the theater. So if the viewer of the movie won’t mind sitting through a film that is far beyond a 120 or so minute running time, then they just better like what they are seeing on the screen set in front of them. If not, the only way to avoid the film is to get up from one’s seat and walk out of the theater room.
This sitting in a movie house for a long time was recently truly tested on yours truly. For example, I watched two films presented by the same studio, Warner Bros in separate incidents. The first was the 2022 release of The Batman. That movie’s running time was clocked in at two hours and fifty six minutes. This includes the end credits running for at least eight minutes! Unless one sits through end credits looking for names one may know or know of (after all, Los Angeles is an industry town and sometimes people look out for others working in some field), this is the portion that is usually skipped. That is, unless there is a segment tacked at the end of the credit run that will reveal something leading toward a future sequel or spin off!
Although the movie itself was rather amusing for what it was, I had to struggle to watch the entire film. A few times I did get out of my seat because nature was calling, but I really didn’t care that I was missing out on anything during my brief absence.
On the other side of the coin, I recently sat in a movie theater for a special one time only revival of the recently restored version of film director George Steven’s epic Giant. This film released in 1956 starred (among many others), Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean in his final film. The movie itself was a giant and as big as Texas where most of the film takes place. The running time of that feature is three hours and eleven minutes, some fifteen minutes longer than The Batman! And Giant’s end credits ran around thirty seconds consisting with the words “The End” and “A George Stevens Production” placed along with the Warner Bros. shield logo.
I did not move from my seat for that entire running time. I was so embraced with what was going on on the big screen, I was seeking more when the movie ended when I realized that a little over three hours had passed. And unlike other movies of the era that were long epic productions, this title didn’t have an intermission tacked on in its middle as some studios did place on their longer running shows. However, if one is lucky enough to attend another revival of this film, take note that there’s a lot to view. And if anyone gets a hold of the DVD released in 2013 through Warner Home Media, make sure it’s the correct screen ratio of 1:66:1 as some editions (made through error) sport a 1:85:1 ratio. (Only film preservation buffs such as myself would really care about a movie’s proper screen size!!)
So don’t worry if your attention span has gone short. That could even be for a good reason. After all, life is just as short as one’s attention span, so live that life as full as one can get away with! As it was once said by somebody or something, the sooner the better. And if any influencer out there desires to make a Tic-Tok video of my phrase, remember that you read it here first, and I’ll come around to collect my commission later–or even sooner!
Continuing its run at Studio City’s Two Roads Theater is the world premier of Jeff Gould’s A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE DIVORCE, a comical look on how a trio of couples are handing their journey on how they are handling their end of marital bliss.
The scene is the waiting room of a divorce mediator. A set of three couples arrive to take their turn of how they are going to arrange their end of marriage as arranged by the mediator. The three middle aged couples consist of Brian (Ian Nemser, alternating with Albert Garnica) & Carol (Laura Walker, alternating with Kelly Desarla), Doug (Corbin Timbrook/Michael Camacho) & Angie (Marie Pettit Gregson/Patricia Mizen), and Ken (Anthony Backman/Gerald Dewey), & Tanya (Bri Ana Wagner/Swisyzinna Moore). They come from different backgrounds and different family setups. They all hold one common bond. Everyone’s marriage is on the skids! As they are all in the same waiting room waiting for this marriage mediator to arrive, they all have to face one another, let alone face the spouse they wish to break up with! They begin to know each other for their better or for worse. They discover the ins and outs of their one time happy life, and discover that every other couple is just as “F”-ed up as the next! The longer they wait for the mediator to arrive (if at all), they chance on what outweighs the other: Staying married or if the big “D” is the only way to go!
This single act play written by playwright Jeff Gould takes upon a humorous look of marriage and divorce in today’s post-modern domestic society that provides that the “until death do depart” portion of the wedding vows holds lots of negotiation, if not with loopholes so big one can jump through ‘em! The six set of players that appear in this play (double cast by the way) hold enough chemistry with one another, even if that chemistry can be very toxic! They fight with each other while they reflect on how their marriage worked out and how it flopped. Their start and finish shows happiness and sadness, joy and scorn, and the manner that their sex life tethered between “f-ing” and being “f-ed”!
March Antiono Prichett directs this play that uses lots of creative license in portraying the couple depicted. It’s not quite known if the playwright and/or the director were inspired from actual experience. Whatever the case may be, it depicts that marriage and divorce can become an equal challenge.
Sky Pilot Theater Company, the theater troupe that presents this program, originally scheduled to open this show in March of 2020. Of course, something bigger than a divorce got in its way. But now it’s here after its two year leave of absence. It was indeed worth its wait as this show holds plenty of laughs with a touch of somberness. These are the same emotions emoted when it comes to marriage. You can fight one moment and have a roll in the hay the next! And not necessarily in that order!
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE DIVORCE, presented by the Sky Pilot Theatre Company, and performs at The Two Roads Theater, 4348 Tujunga Avenue, Studio City, until September 11th. Showtimes are Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 3:00 PM. No performances on August 13th-14th, and 20th-21st.
For ticket reservations, order online at https://Divorce.BrownPaperTickets.com
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