The cinema. The institution where we can lose ourselves in the latest blockbusters on the big screen, nibbling on cacophonous popcorn, a snack that seems so logically inappropriate for cinema. Still, we eat it, as we drink the over-priced Pepsi that causes an urgent need to visit the restroom at the most climactic point in the film. Regardless, the trip to the cinema is an individual one, where you don’t speak but sit back and revel in Scorsese’s latest piece of genius. So, for an activity that requires hardly any human interaction, why is there such a stigma attached to attending the cinema on your own?
The reasoning seems non-existent and baffling, but going to the cinema on your own is not viewed as a social norm. Fellow viewers of the film see someone who is on their own at the cinema as some lonely, isolated person or even go to the extent of thinking them somewhat peculiar. The concept is just like how everyone watches a film at home on their own, burying themselves in chocolate. So why can’t this social norm be applied to the cinema – the exact same activity just in a public situation with a payment before the screening? The stigma attached to buying a cinema ticket for one does not seem justified.
This social norm needs to be rectified and encouraged but can’t be without an international promotion to the people who would enjoy a relaxing, singular escape from everyday life. This change is never going to happen with only the romantic and family culture thriving in the cinematic sphere. All advertisements and encouragement is focused purely on couples and group trips to the cinema. This is not to say that couples and families who flood the cinemas should be discouraged, but that people on their own should also be encouraged.
The central issue is exclusively family deals, such as Odeon’s ‘Family Mix’ and external promotions like EE Wednesdays two-for-one. Not that these should be neglected, but where are the deals that promote attending the cinema alone? The absence of this creates an awkwardness and alienation to attending the cinema alone. Something that objectively makes sense has been made unusual through society’s construction of cinema conventions.
Social conventions are therefore brimming with irony. Activities that originated with being glorified by social interaction – like shopping and grabbing a coffee – have developed into feeling socially-acceptable to do on your own. But things that seem logical to attend on your own – the cinema, the theatre – where the whole purpose is for the audience to be consumed and absorbed by the material, are viewed as slightly odd to appear alone.
Society and businesses need to re-evaluate their judgements. In the meantime, I’m going to try my upmost to rid myself of the almost instinctive, sickening, awkward eruption that occurs when walking into the cinema on my own and turn the emotion into a positive one, where I can happily ask for a cinema ticket for one, please.