A Habit Is Born
One of the drawbacks of publishing a blog on Tuesday is that everyone has already spent their Monday reading Oscars takes. So there’s no reason for me to write about why Green Book shouldn’t have won, because you’ve heard it all by now. But while we’re still in a cinematic mood, I’ll regale you with another movie story.
Per usual, I tried to watch every best picture nominee, and I ended up seeing everything except Roma. Which is ironic, because that was probably the film I was most excited for, coming into 2018. I had been following the film industry hype for months, and I was ready for a life-changing experience.
Then the film was released on Netflix.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no film snob. I don’t particularly care about seeing films on a big screen. But what I am is an incredible procrastinator. And when I know that the film will always be streaming, and I can always watch it another day, it’s easy to make excuses. The funny thing is that if Roma was only released in theaters, I would have made a trip to see it on opening weekend. Probably would have seen it twice, if we’re being honest. But the knowledge that I didn’t have to see it right away was my downfall.
And let me be clear: I absolutely had time to watch it. I could have watched it many, many times over. I spent multiple hours this weekend in a debate about whether John Mayer is brilliant or a moron (watch an interview with him, and you’ll realize it’s impossible to tell. He’s exactly on the fence). I could have watched Roma instead. But I didn’t, because I knew I had the option to watch it another time.
I still plan on watching the movie very soon, but deep in my heart, I’m 100% certain that I never will. If I’m being honest with myself, I will never, ever sit down to watch Netflix and say “I really feel like watching a two-hour drama with Spanish subtitles tonight.” But that’s the same movie I would have obsessed over if I had to see it at the multiplex. Can’t make this stuff up…
There’s a lot I could write about the implications this has for the film industry, but it’s much more interesting to think about what it says about humans. If there is something we have the option of not doing, we absolutely will not do it. There are two ways of looking at this, one positive and one negative. The pessimistic approach is to write myself off as a lazy, unproductive animal, and try to beat the habit out of myself. The optimistic way is to realize that we can train ourselves to do the things we need. I didn’t watch Roma, but I never missed a day of writing my scripts, or going to the gym, or explaining to strangers that Bob Dylan did some of his best work from 1997-2006. When we really turn something into a priority, it becomes a part of our daily lives, and we end up putting off the useless stuff to make room for it. If we can choose the right priorities, we’ll form the right habits, and find ourselves on the right path in no time.