The Movies: Going It Alone Ain’t So Bad!


(Image Source)

This week, I found a perfect blog opportunity presented itself. Never have I ever gone to the movies alone.
I have always, somehow, seen the movies as this singularly social outing one partakes in- never considering it really isn’t that much of a social outing when all the joining parties do is sit near each other, eat food and stare blankly ahead at the bright screen in the dark; maybe occasionally asking if they wanted some of your popcorn, or them offering you a skittle.

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I believe, up until now, there were many reasons why I have never gone to the movies by myself, and all can be traced back to Torsten Hägerstrand’s Time Geography. They all can be linked back to his three identified constraints of human spatial activity, either capability, coupling or authority (Corbitt, 2001).

Capability: my ability to get the movie theatres. I have always relied on a participant to transport myself to the cinema, whether parents as a child or friends as a teen and young adult- I needed a lift to actually get there to see the movie, so of course they would also be coming to the movies with me. Still being car-less at age twenty, I was met with the same predicament of old, no simple and easy way to the movies of my own ability; and I could have let that override my decision to go cinema alone. Instead, after I finished my classes on Thursday afternoon, I simply hopped onto the free shuttle bus and jumped off right in front of the movies.
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Coupling: the need to be in one particular place for a particular length of time, interacting with other people. I always had the notion that I needed someone with me at the movie so I wouldn’t get bored, or I could lean over and say how hot Henry Cavill is in this movie, or how funny that scene or line was.

(Image via filmoria)

Not only that, but my experience of movie watching has changed somewhat with the latest streaming/viewing experiences. There is some joy in having the freedom to pause the movie and go pee when you want to, rather than sit cross legged through a 3 hour Marvel movie, regretting letting the cashier talk you into a 50c upsized drink.

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Aside from when I am at work, or asleep, watching a movie in the cinema has to be the longest amount of uninterrupted time I go without checking my phone as well. And somehow knowing that I will be scolded for using my phone during a movie, the desire to use it grows even stronger.

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Finally my main reason for never going to the movies alone is Authority: that pesky, silly social stigma in my head that questioned am I allowed to go to the movies alone?  It was the social authority that inhibited me, a preconceived notion that I would be judged for going alone to an activity ‘normally’ undertaken by a party of at least two. It was only recently I started going shopping alone, and even then believed I was being judged for being alone, seen as a loner with no friends. My go-to response when I feel like i’m being judged for being alone, is to of course play with my phone, to seek the connection I think I need.tweet 3tweet 4

Finally, once the movie started playing, I lost myself into the silly espionage remake of the 60s sitcom. I stopped caring about what others thought and just enjoyed the movie. Only a few moments, did I almost look to my side to comment on the awesome car chase, or the perfection that is Henry Cavill’s jawline. I had my food, I had a comfy(ish) seat, I had Henry Cavill and nothing else mattered.

tweet 6I left the cinema feeling my introverted-self empowered in a new way. Already accustomed and preferring alone time over massive groups of friends in social outings, I found a new outlet to stay in my loneliness but not be lonely. No one cared if it was just me seeing a movie, and I began to not care what everyone else thought. It is very freeing when you realise the social barriers you think are real are really just in your head. Although, I feel I will keep listening to that voice in my head that reminds me of the social law of not wearing your pyjamas in public.


Go Forth And Buy Tickets My Lone Moviegoers! Make Horgerstrand proud!


Corbett, J 2001, ‘Torsten Hagerstrand: Time Geography’, Center for spacially Intergrated Social Science, viewed 29th August 15,http://www.csiss.org/classics/content/29


5 thoughts on “The Movies: Going It Alone Ain’t So Bad!

  1. I’m so interested in this idea of social permission as an authority constraint. Hagerstrand was referring to more literal kinds of authorisation, but in cinema terms the adaptation to social constraints, especially in relation to solo attendance, is is really provoking. Do you think the pressure to be not solo would have increased in a more crowded theatre?

    1. I think I definitely would have felt more awkward the greater the number of people in the theatre. And where I chose to sat, in the very front section and I couldn’t see anybody. If I’d sat up the back like I’d planned and saw everyone in front of me would definitely have given me a different mindset about it all.

      1. This connects to the question of how and why Australia reversed the geography of racial segregation. What was more excluding: to be at the front, and looked-upon, or to be at the back and not seen at all? Place really matters.

  2. As an avid cinema-goer, I find going to the movies alone to be a much more rewarding experience. When you’re alone, you can properly focus on what’s happening on the screen, rather than being semi-focused when you’re watching with friends. Of course, it depends on what kind of film you’re watching. Great post btw! Really interested in the ‘social permission’ aspect that you have raised

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