That’s Entertainment?

One night last week I went to the movies. The night before, I went to a live theatrical performance. The first night I saw Jimmy Carr, a British comedian, perform at Carnegie Hall. The next night I saw a 4DX screening of a movie made about, 20 years ago called, The Nightmare Before Christmas. It kind of felt like I took a journey from the Stone Age to “A galaxy far, far away.”   

Carnegie Hall is a five-story 132 year-old theater complex with 3,671 seats, divided among three auditoriums. 

4DX is a 4D film presentation system developed by CJ 4DPlex, a subsidiary of South Korean cinema chain CJ CGV. It allows films to be augmented with various practical effects, including motion-seats, wind, strobe-lights, simulated-snow, and scents. First introduced commercially in 2009, it presents films in both stereoscopic 3-D and monoscopic 2-D formats. The 4DX technology has expanded to virtual-reality, also known as 4DX VR, which utilizes a set of specific 4DX model seats consisting of VR headsets, similar to that of virtual reality amusement rides, and is described to be the “world’s first VR theater”.

Carnegie Hall is definitely a throwback to another time. The stage in its largest venue, the 2,804-seat, Issac Stern Auditorium is truly cavernous. Jimmy Carr, stood in the center of that bare stage and, like one of our ancient ancestors standing before a fire at the entrance of a cave, kept his audience hanging on his every word for 90 minutes. It was a presentation format that was as old as civilization itself.

Over at the 4DX multiplex, I was given 3D eyeglasses. When I got to my seat I saw that each one had an industrial strength a foot rest. And every member of the audience needed them. Because every time a door closed on screen, or someone walked down a flight of stairs, the seats moved. Backwards, forwards, sideways, and heaven help us whenever someone started running. We bobbed up and down with every stride. All in eye-popping 3D! Like Carr’s presentation, this show lasted about 90 minutes. That’s where the similarities ended. After Carr’s show I felt mentally stimulated. He had entertained me and made me think about issues big and small in way’s I hadn’t before. After my 4DX experience, my legs were a little unsteady, my back was a little sore and I felt like I had been on a perpetually running roller coaster. 

There was one other difference. After Carr’s show, the group I went with talked about it — what bits we thought were funny, which ones were interesting, and so on. After the 4DX experience, we only talked about the seats. We never discussed the content at all. 

I guess, as the saying goes, “that’s entertainment.”

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