“Coming Soon: The Summer When You’re Expected to Save Drive-In Movie Theaters,” Time claimed last week:
Later this year, movie studios are scheduled to stop distributing films in old-fashioned 35-millimeter format. Everything will go digital, which is fine for the vast majority of indoor theaters that have already upgraded to digital projectors. It’s a different story with drive-ins, however, many of which find themselves in need of handouts to pay for the upgrade. Care to cough up a $100 donation on top of the cost of popcorn?
Yes, there are still drive-in theaters in existence, though it’s rare for a state to have more a handful left. For example, there are eight drive-in theaters in Michigan, according to MichiganDriveIns.com. MLive reported that at least one of the existing theaters, the Capri Drive-In, just paid $144,000 to upgrade two of its projectors to digital. It’s unlikely that all of the other drive-ins will be able to do the same. Drive-ins are hardly big money makers; more than 150 others in the state have closed over the years.
DriveInTheater.com has a state-by-state list of operational and dead drive-ins, and for every state, the deceased list is far longer. Once, more than 4,000 drive-ins dotted the nation. More than three-quarters of them closed by the late ’80s.
I certainly don’t mind seeing a few drive-in theaters saved from extinction. But I’m rather surprised to see that someone from Time magazine is waxing nostalgic for them, because drive-in theaters they represent everything that’s anathema to the magazine since founder Henry Luce left the building in 1967. They represent suburbia and the American hinterlands, which Time has loathed as The Other since as early 1969. They represent cars and the internal combustion engine — and we all know where Time stands on the issue of global warming:
And they represent suburban sprawl. Shouldn’t Time be arguing that those last drive-in theaters be leveled so that some massive high-density apartment blocks be built there to help reduce all that inefficient land use that’s so hated by today’s socialist architectural gurus?
But Time’s homage to the drive-in movie is yet more proof that increasingly, it’s now the left who are increasingly nostalgic for a halcyon American past. As we mentioned last year, witness statist Paul Krugman’s surprising homage to Eisenhower’s America or Woody Allen’s frequent encomiums to the 1930s. Or as libertarian blogger Radley Balko wrote in 2004:
You know, you sometimes get the feeling the day after the polio vaccine was invented, today’s left would have run editorials lamenting the good ol’ days, when we were a little more cautious about what swimming pools we jumped into, and expressing sadness that we’d now have no new stories about the afflicted overcoming their disability to inspire the rest of us.
I’m not kidding. They’re that resistant to change. Every mill that shuts down is a “sign of our sad times.” No matter that the new mill will do things better, faster and cheaper than the old one. New farming techniques grow more food on less land. But dammit, if there wasn’t something romantic about the old-stye “family farm” that’s deserving of government protection. Innovation isn’t celebrated, it’s excoriated for displacing some idealized vision of the way things once were. In matters of progress and dynamism, the left is far more conservative than the conservatives are.
Then there’s matter of the sustainability of Hollywood’s own product, at least in the minds of those who believe that the earth’s days are numbered, do to man’s rapacious anti-environmental nature. For example, when Avatar was released onto DVD in 2010, James Cameron told the Washington Post that “DVDs are wasteful:”
It’s a consumer product like any consumer product. I think ultimately we’re going to bypass a physical medium and go directly to a download model and then it’s just bits moving in the system. And then the only impact to the environment is the power it takes to run the computers, run the devices. I think that we’re not there yet, but we’re moving that direction. Twentieth Century Fox has made a commitment to be carbon neutral by the end of 2010. Because of some of these practices that can’t be changed, the only way to do that is to buy carbon offsets. You know, which again, these are interim solutions. But at least it shows that there’s a consciousness that we have to be dealing with carbon pollution and sustainability. …
And speaking of consumer products, why, wasn’t it just a couple of years ago that Fareed Zakaria, one of Time’s editors at large, and a would-be advisor to the president himself was telling CNN we needed to reduce consumption?
Parker asked Zakaria if he had faith the American people could handle the fiscal discipline he advocated. Zakaria used the platform as an opportunity to attack Americans and refute the notion “the American people are wonderful.” His solution: Less consumption by the American people.
“No, I think the people are the big problem,” Zakaria said. “I mean, Americans — everybody wants to say the American people are so wonderful. You know, I think that when they come to recognize that they have to make sacrifices too that it’s not just wasteful — they need to have — they need to recognize that some of what’s going to happen here is fewer. They have to consume fewer things. They have to accept slightly higher taxes. And in the long run, you will have a much better economy.”
If that’s what Cameron and the rest of Hollywood (which includes Warner Brothers, which is part of the same conglomerate as Time) truly believe about their own product, and an editor-at-large of Time itself thinks about the American public, shouldn’t they live up to those same rules as well?
Update: Unless of course, all of Time’s theories about the impending horrors of life in the 21st century were just so much fatuous leftwing politics made up on the spot to achieve a desired socialistic outcome, and deep down inside, they never believed any of that stuff in the first place.
If so, shouldn’t they let us know they’ve changed their mind?
Related: “America’s Largest Movie Theatre Chain Cuts Worker Hours, Citing ObamaCare,” Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler.
So from Fareed Zakaria’s perspective, it’s a two-fer.