Books for Everyone!

The Home Theatre

July 2018

This essay does not cover any film in particular, although a few classic Hollywood films did come to mind and they are referenced herein.

During the course of designing our Dream Home, Dear Husband and I have encountered the emergence of a new way of life, a life style that is indeed revolutionary. The TV room, The Family Room with the TV, wide-screen or otherwise — is being replaced with The Home Theatre.

The change is necessary, of course, since private viewing of sports, tv shows, and new-release-movies only precariously exists as a lucrative profit for the media conglomerates; and, in my home, no private viewing exists at all of those tacky snooozefests. With the exception of enjoying NHL Hockey and highly selected societal/cultural commentary, I’ve not watched first-run broadcast television shows in almost a decade; and those programs were somewhat informational (cooking, history, fashion, real breaking news). I oddly find myself with the majority of Americans for whom the “cutting of the cord” has brought an end to any talk about What’s on TV.

Home designers and furniture-makers have been quick to pick up on this significant societal flight from trash-tv. Home-seating comes courtesy of the Black Leather Recliner, all lined up in a row and ready for each member of the family to pick his or her own seat in the Viewing Galley. And no cinemuck! In the event of a family fight or feud over the best seat, as well as for additional comfort, there’s gel-infused memory foam in the seat core.

Norma Desmond might not have cared for the free will and open space involved in this social setting, or seating, but I’m pretty sure that Joe Gillis would have welcomed the extra neck and leg room in that murky mansion on Sunset Boulevard.

Armoires now open up to the wide-screen in the way that a Hollywood mogul used to proffer his latest celluloid-work-in-progress to stars, starlets, and the hangers-on who might be of help in promoting the Hit. One cast party scene in the Golden Age film, Singing in the Rain, includes a talking-pictures-demonstration on film. The elderly gentleman smilingly tells the audience about the Talking Picture. One Vamp-Star deems it vulgar.

Vulgarities did find their way into motion pictures through speech. There was much more vulgarity behind the Silent Silver Screen than on it, but some Silents offered up plenty of poor taste too. Americans have a way of peddling the past as superior to the present, but we might actually have hit upon an honest-to-goodness honest and good sales pitch in the marketing of DVDs of classic tv, film, sports, even news!

It’s been said there’s no future in the past, but there sure seems to be a lot of present in the past, at least in terms of audio-visual entertainment.

The Family Room has been transformed into The Home Theatre. Movies from the past, television shows from the past, sports from the past: The Past is now almost live entertainment. I’m not sure this phase will last long, but one thing is quite clear to me:

Box sets of Intellectual Property from the recent past (the past decade or so) aren’t the prime picks of those rip-off artists in foreign lands who abscond with so much intellectual property. There’s money’s in Classic: color, b/w, even that vulgar colorized stuff.

In some ways, The Home Theatre is a throwback to The Radio Room of the 1930s (Also see the Radio Room for The Dawn). Americans are getting a whole slew of new deals nowadays. One deal might be real jobs, the real deal that will signal the return of family time. That warm setting doesn’t need digital devices to shorten the divide among loved ones far-flung across the Fruited Plain.

In the good ole days, the Family gathered in ways that have been nearly wiped out by the Wide Screen mounted in just about every room of the house, and I have experienced such dismals sights.

In somewhat related home-designer-lingo, the Breakfast Nook has become The Keeping Room, the cozy nook where the home-cooked food from the adjacent Kitchen is kept, while it awaits being served to hungry mouths in the Dining Room. Meal consumption in the Keeping Room is also an option, especially if this space has a fireplace! I am told that the Keeping Room was very popular in American Colonial times. Once again we are back to the future!

The domestic scene is not exactly Germaine announcing “Le déjeuner est servi” in the classic Hitchcock film, To Catch A Thief, but I feel confident that Cary Grant would be most pleased to know that the serving of home-cooked food is making a comeback!

Home-made popcorn is making a comeback too! The Home Theatre suppliers have already come up with The Home Popcorn Bucket. They now need to offer an after-market gizmo for the Recliner to hold the bucket.

I’ve been making pan-popped popcorn for years, in defiance of microwave popcorn. The odor of microwave popcorn is one olfactory memory I valiantly endeavour to forget — from my days in Office World. I’m not one to ban any words, but in my Home Office, the mere mention of microwave popcorn is considered . . .