Southern Man

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Midnight Movies

Southern Man doesn't see a lot of movies - probably half of what he attends is at the request of darling nine-going-on-ten-year-old daughter - but he does take a few seriously. And that brings us to the topic of midnight movies.

Midnight movies are special. Midnight movies don't draw ordinary moviegoers; they bring out the true fans. Southern Man treasures memories of the packed-out midnight showing of The Fellowship of the Ring where he was surrounded by people who loved those books at least as much as he did and knew during the opening sequence that the next two hours would be magical. And he made sure that his older children (then still in grade school) read the books before they saw the midnight screenings of the next two films. And then there was The Phantom Menace, where after the opening sequence we were looking around at each other and all obviously thinking "just WTF is this all about?" Midnight movies invariabley turn into something special. Only at midnight movies can you talk to your seatmates as though you've they're best friends that you've known forever. Only at midnight movies does everyone get the inside jokes and the obscure references. Only at midnight movies does everyone laugh and cry and gasp at all the right places. Only at midnight movies can you revel in all that you share with everyone else in the house. Only at midnight movies will audience members arrive in costume and witness lightsaber duels and hold impromptu stage shows before the film (which of course brings back fond memories of multiple outings to The Rocky Horror Picture Show - always at midnight, of course - and Southern Man will never, ever in this lifetime reveal what costumes he has worn to such and indeed will gladly murder any former friends who might rat him out). Only at midnight are you and the audience united into one huge family, out of the closet and openly sharing and treasuring and reveling and grokking and loving together.

So Southern Man has never hesitated to take his young 'uns to midnight movies. Sure, staying up 'till three am means they might bomb a pop quiz the next morning but bragging rights at school the next day are worth a lot and those memories will stay with them forever. And so it was with some dismay that we found a while back that the anticipated midnight opening of Pirates of the Caribbean III was actually going to be at - seven in the evening?

Seven in the evening is not midnight. At seven in the evening you don't get that family of fans and the special synergy that goes along with midnight. At seven in the evening you get - dare I say it - ordinary movie-goers. Yeah, the fans are there, but so are the muggles, so you must sit back and blend in. Seven in the evening means that at school and at work the next day everyone's already seen it. Midnight promises the potential of magic. Seven in the evening does not.

A midnight premier of Star Trek could have the charm of one of the old conventions, for the utter geekiness of trekkies far outstrips anything that any other franchise can claim and which grows exponentially when trekkies gather in large numbers. Star Trek at midnight would have brought out fans in full-dress Klingon uniforms and fully-functioning Borg costumes and Yeoman Rand miniskirts. Only at a midnight could a mother of three come dressed as an Orion slave girl and not only feel not the least bit self-consious but probably reap applause and general adulation. For Southern Man, a midnight showing of Star Trek could have potentially toppled The Fellowship of the Ring in terms of pure, unadulterated moviegoing joy openly shared with a packed house of new-found best friends united by a lifetime of utterly irrational devotion to that ridiculous show and its myriad spinoffs.

Alas, it will not be so. Seven o'clock tomorrow evening it will be. The Mr. Spock uniform and pointy ears will stay in the box but Southern Man hopes to see you there anyway.


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