Do I Have Your Attention?

Is your attention span lowering? Here’s a test: Take a book, a book you’re interested in reading, clear your schedule, and sit down in a quiet room to read it. If you can get through fifteen pages without stopping, without skimming, then you’re just fine, but if at the third page you’re sitting there thinking of other things, or decide to perform another task, there’s a great chance your attention span is lowering.

This is something to be worried about. To you it seems dramatic, but to me it’s disturbing. When you can’t sit down to read a book, you can’t sit down to watch television with your kids, you can’t sit down and have a leisurely dinner with your family, you can’t have a conversation with anyone, you can’t lay in bed with your lover, you can’t listen to your friends’ problems, you can’t read a good fucking book! You can’t listen to a good song! You can’t watch a good film. You miss out on life’s priceless details.

As technology progresses in the twenty-first century—or as I call it: “Generation duh”, America’s IQ’s and attention spans digress. With the advent of DVD’s, we’re able to maintain the same sense of quality and sound we’re able to get or were able to get in movie theaters, and now we’re able to retain privacy and comfort with these DVD’s BUT, we’re also able to de-evolve our attention. With the advent of DVD’s and Pay Per View, there’s no need to be civil or quiet anymore. Because who is going to hush us?

Back then, when we watched films, we had to sit firmly planted in our seats and could not get up until the movie ended, and if we had to get up, we had to do it in a quick manner, we had to keep our attention still, BUT with many facets of home entertainment, such virtues are gone. Now that pay per view has the ability to pause and rewind, there’s just no need to pay attention anymore. Missed that last scene? Rewind. Looked away for a while? Rewind. Bored with the movie? Forward! There’s just no need to pay attention. Back when I was a child, I had to sit and watch or else I’d miss something, thus with the easy accessibility of home entertainment, what’s the point of an attention span?

Thus is further induced with the introduction of cell phones that do more than call people. Because, heaven knows, we can’t have phones that just call people. That’s just barbaric. That’s just insane! Such status symbols as cell phones, must have every single feature at our finger tip not because it’s resourceful but because “its cool”, because it makes you look important, because it lets people know, “I may have a cell phone with all these stupid features, but that doesn’t mean I have to treat it as one”. Such kitschy features that bode unnecessary and un-resourceful are now popular. If you’re stuck in the woods starving what the fuck will games serve you? If you’re stuck on the road, what the fuck are commercials and previews going to do for you? You’re wife is having a baby, but who cares, because you can listen to music. And now they’re beginning to offer short films.

I have no distaste for short films, I review them all the time, but when Madison avenue touts these features as “must have” it morphs movie-goers, gradually. With these short films it will spell doom for attention spans. Short films, fifteen minute compact vignettes will now be viewed as compelling, thus–what’s the point of buying a long movie that’s ninety minutes? It’s the signal of the decline of American IQ’s and common sense when short films will be viewed as the must. And can you imagine a crowd of people going to theaters for short films that are fifteen minutes long? Take for example, movie theaters. When the audience is watching, even then, without control, they don’t care about paying attention to what’s happening. Why? They can just wait for it on DVD two months later! Imagine if this new introduction becomes popular and Hollywood–being the natural Algonquin round table of yes men producers that they are–decide to capitalize on this? We’ll be going to the movies to see commercials pretending to be movies. Fifteen page scripts, no story necessary. My god.

Again, this is not an attempt to negate the short film genre. What was once a medium that used to play before films of propaganda, news reels, cartoons, serials, and comedy shorts has evolved in to a complex medium of budding film makers who have the ability to direct a great film but not particularly the resources, so short films have become an underground sort of genre where these talented filmmakers can tell their stories while showing their skills. But once Hollywood grabs a hold of it, the underground directors will be weeded out and professionals will push them aside, aspiring actors will be turned away for established actors, and the medium will become another vacuous product for the industry to market on, endlessly.

Good films demand our attention. What’s a good film? One that demands that you sit in front of the screen and keep your eyes on it at all times, to which the writing will spur “You miss something, you’re fucked”, but the bad movies, and or the movies that are utterly disposable and will disappear in a decade are the ones you can watch while performing other activities. When I review films, about fifty percent of the films I have my back turned, because I can guess what’s happening. If I can guess what’s happening on the screen, many times, it’s going to get a less than positive review. We live in a world where even the losers must be treated like winners because heaven forbid we should hurt anyone’s feelings. I lost a game, fine TRY HARDER!

By treating the losers as winners telling them “Losing is just as good as winning” is raising a new generation of morons to keep from striving to give it their all. By losing, we say to ourselves “I’ll try harder next time”. That’s positive. By this new sentiment they’ll begin to think “What’s the point of trying?” Of course, because in this world, EVERYONE has to feel like a winner, heaven forbid they should lose a game. We must make even the losers feel like winners. Trying hard, learning from your losses, using actual brain power, what the hell does that matter? As long as you feel like a winner? THAT thought gross process is psychological damage in itself.

There’s no demand anymore. We live in a pussified “Everyone can do anything” society where fantastic abilities are watered down, dumbed down, viewed as mundane and shun. No. I will never be an underwear model. Because I don’t have the build. If you can’t do it, you can’t fucking do it. Not everyone can write a novel, not everyone can sing, not everyone can play guitar, or piano, not everyone can write poetry. Don’t believe your fucking inspirational mom/dad/teacher/counselor who says “You can do anything if you just try”.

Fuck you. Do you know people like Poe, Dickenson, King, Tolstoy, and Bukowski suffered for their work? Do you know how much dedication it takes to write a hundred, two hundred, three hundred fucking page novel? Try sitting at your chair in front of a glowing screen for ten hours at your desk, try typing until your finger tips are sore and red, and your eyes throbbing, try fucking sitting there composing a logical story, try spending shit loads of your own money mailing your manuscripts out to publishers who reject you, try getting people to read what you’ve written, try to push your story forward when you’ve had a creative block for two months. Try it. I dare you. You don’t want to do that? Then you can’t be a writer. If you thought: “Ten hours? That’s ridiculous”, then fuck off, you’re not a writer.

Try singing until your voice is sore, ‘til you can barely talk. If you’re not a singer, you can’t be a singer. Some people just aren’t cut out for it. Some people just can’t. I can’t sing, I can’t dance, and I can’t perform an opera. That’s called reality, folks. In this fucking aggravating age of low demand where great baseball teams are suspended because they’re too good, you must strive for excellence. You want to be rebellious these days, try for extraordinary, because everyone appreciates mediocrity, ordinary. We celebrate mediocrity. Instead of one valedictorian, there are schools that enlist five or six. A valedictorian was a sign that this one person succeeded and now it’s been brought down to mediocrity with more people in the fold. If you got through this article without turning your eyes away or toggling to a different window, you’re losing your attention span. Or you just don’t like the article–to which I say, boo hoo.

With the loss of attention span, comes the loss of American literature, and American cinema. Which means shorter movies, mediocre production values, and nothing is taken away from the experience because they’re doing this to please you, the one who can’t sit down and pay attention. With home entertainment there’s no need to talk about the film AFTER the movie ends, there’s no need to shut the fuck up, there’s no need to pay attention, which ultimately means that the novelty of film, movies, general entertainment, and art are all gone, but not with a quick death, but a slow agonizing fate because you demanded it. And that saddens me.

Have a crack at that book again.