4.02.2010

What's the deal with movies?

When I was younger, I sometimes wondered why people enjoyed watching movies or television. By people, I include myself. I wasn't wondering, why everyone else liked movies because I myself could not related to the desire. I can relate to the pleasure of watching people pretend to do something, but why? Doesn't it seem so odd? We take so much pleasure in watching people pretend fall in and out of love or be chased by police? We even like to watch people pretend to do things that we would strongly dislike to do in real life, like hang from the skis of a helicopter.(A life long fear of mine, since I have perpetually sweaty hands) What's the deal?

It would seem to make more sense if our movies and television were all filmed from the first person. The movie would then imitate real life.
Cat's, for example, like to watch movies. They like watching things that they like to watch in real life, like bugs or birds. They don't like watching other cats going through dangerous situations or eating food.

Imagine a human movie, similar to this. It would be filmed from the first person and show the things people like to see. It would be like a 'First Person Shooter' video game, except you wouldn't be in control and instead of showing you killing tons of people it would show things like, coming home to find a really nice meal waiting. Or having a group of people tell you that you are wonderful, or stumbling upon a treasure chest filled with gold. Or even the view a person would have while skiing down a mountain. (in this way, video games seem to make more sense than movies, since this is what many of them of them are like)

Of course, a movie like this probably wouldn't be any good. (Although, now I am curious, does anyone know of a movie filmed entirely in the first person?) It seems like a mystery as to why a movie like a described would probably be so bad, while movies where we watch other people pretend to do things are very enjoyable.

I think the answer is actually fairly simple. It is one only recently discovered by science. Also, it is one of my favorite scientific discoveries, one that seems to answer so many odd elements of human life.

The answer.......

Diarrhea
!

I'm just kidding,

the answer is Mirror Neurons. By now there is a good chance you have heard of them, if not you can read this, or I will give you a quick summary. To be brief, (here I am quoting wikipedia) "A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another."
For example, when you lift your arm, certain neurons fire. When you watch someone else lift their arm, those same neurons fire. This is basically the neurological element of empathy. You literally feel other people's actions. We all know how agonizing it is to watch someone in pain. This is because our mirror neurons fire and we feel their pain, to a certain extent.

Considering this, movies and television make a lot of sense. Watching other people experience things on screen is superior to a first person view, because by us watching the actors experience emotions and go through life changing experience, we, in turn, also experience those emotions and life changing experiences, albeit to a lesser degree.

This allows us to literally live vicariously through the actors on the screen.




This photo is of a "brainbow". An entire brain of neurons which have essentially been dyed a variety of colors. I find it beautiful. There are many pictures of it online if you search for DIARrHEA!

2 comments:

liz canaan roberts said...

i found this post both insightful and informative.

Chris Almond said...

Thank you liz!