The enthusiasm games
Unless you've been living under a very isolated rock - perhaps in "uninhabitable" District 13 - you probably know The Hunger Games premiered this weekend. Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites lit up with people preparing for opening weekend. Personally, I haven't seen the movie yet, but I know many people who were excited enough to join the flocks of fans headed to the midnight showings.
I can't deny I have done the whole midnight premiere thing before. Back when the sixth Harry Potter movie came out, a bunch of my friends and I showed up three hours early for the midnight showing, prepared to make a night of it. We lined up and waited with all of the other finger-tapping, sighing, impatient people and finally filed into the theater an hour before show time.
In a way, it was a lot of fun. I got to hang out with my friends from high school and play word games to pass the time until seeing a movie about which I was really excited. Not to mention we got to people watch while surrounded by very interesting, hard-core fans. I like to think of the whole adventure as a fond memory.
When I really think about it, though, I remember some of the grittier details, and I realize why I am in no hurry to repeat the experience any time soon.
Speaking of gritty, that is exactly how my eyes felt the next afternoon when I was trying to stay awake at work. It turns out staying out at the movie theater until three in the morning does not make for a happy worker bee.
Moreover, the sort of movies which have midnight premiers are those which have a truly devoted fan base. It is more often than not composed of the "super fans" - the kids who wear the costumes, debate to see who knows more quotes from the books and are personally insulted when their favorite character looks nothing like he did in their imagination.
Compounding the issue is the fact it seems like most of the midnight premiere sort of movies lately - Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games, for example - are at least partially geared toward the demographic idealistically referred to as "tweens."
Sometimes tweens are great - when you need a cheap baby-sitter for instance. But as far as movie viewers go, tween girls are pretty much the worst.
I may not have seen The Hunger Games yet, but one of my really good friends has. Her main complaint was not that Gale was practically a non-entity or the violence was not compelling enough; it was the audience. More specifically, it was the audience of gasping, giggling, sobbing tween girls.
The audience can make or break a movie experience. Sometimes there is nothing better than feeling the anxiety escalate in the whole theater as the suspense builds, or clapping at a film's triumphant close. But when you are in the audience of a midnight premiere, the reactions are excessive.
Then there's always the potential danger you might not end up even liking the movie. Saying I was full of disappointed rage at the end of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince would be an overstatement, but it wouldn't be too far off base. I invested a lot of time going to that movie, and it was not worth my while.
The older I get, the less likely I am to drag myself to a midnight premiere, even for a movie about which I am legitimately excited. I think it's because for me, my curmudgeonly, crotchety side has smothered my youthful enthusiasm.
Now my unwillingness to run the teen gauntlet and my aversion to staying in one place for that long is enough to convince me even the most anticipated films can do without my patronage until after opening weekend.
Alex's column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.