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Taking It All In

I lead a miserably disorganized life; I never feel like I have time to do the things I want to do or need to do. Reading, most of all. I have two books on my nightstand with bookmarks in them – I intended to read both "very quickly" so I could get to the next book on the list, but now I'm dangerously approaching a point where I put them down so long ago that if I were to pick them up again, I'd have to start from the beginning. Meanwhile the next book on the list has been replaced by a newer book (or two), moving it further down the list and I'm still dying to read it.

But my Internet reading has suffered as well. Considering I spend almost all my time online, this comes as a bit of a surprise to me. But I frequently land on some article or (rarely) blog post that I really want to read but I don't have time. Usually, I just leave it open in a browser window until I have time to get back to it, but I began to notice that every so often, something will crash my web browser (usually porn) and then I'll have lost all those links. (For some reason, Safari's history only goes back six or seven days, and these articles have been sitting on the screen for at least a month or more.) So I started bookmarking everything instead – or printing PDFs of the stuff I know will be pay-only after the first week. Today I had a little time before I had to get started procrastinating on other things, so I dug into the bookmark folder and started towards the top: an interesting and deftly constructed analysis of James Bond's appeal by Chuck Klosterman. I really like Klosterman, particularly his deconstruction of pop-culture, though most of his writing is about rock music and therefore utterly inaccessible to me. In his book Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, he did a great thing on Saved by the Bell – I hated the show, but I've probably seen more episodes than you have, so I unfortunately know what he's talking about.

All this is by way of explaining why the following link is nearly three years old. I read the James Bond piece three months late, enjoyed it, and searched Esquire's archives for more Klosterman. Came up with the following:

The Complaint: People Who Sit Through the Credits

Klosterman contends that people who sit through the end credits of movies are doing so in order to seem intellectual, and it annoys him because he finds it phony and pretentious. But it sounds like he's already left the theatre, so why does he allow it to bother him that someone else has stayed behind and freed up a spot for him in the bathroom line? I think Klosterman is Missing the Point, but I think he's probably doing it on purpose, in an attempt to be funny. (I had forgotten Missing the Point, the kernel idea at the center of everything I rant about on this site, but I remembered it recently so it's back!)

There are plenty of reasons to watch the end credits of movies:

  1. I paid $9 to enjoy the air conditioning, comfortable seats, and (increasingly rare) cell phone silence, so I'm going to make every minute count.

  2. The egress of the parking structure will be clotted with Lexus SUVs and convertible BMWs for at least ten more minutes; I may as well let the traffic die down. (LA only.)

  3. I'm finishing my Coke.

  4. I'm actually interested in something from the "Songs in this Movie" or "Locations this Movie Was Filmed" section of the credits (toward the end). (This is mostly my mom's reason, but sometimes I use it, too.)

  5. I love the moviegoing experience – particularly the sound system and the clackety-clack of the projector – so I don't want to cut it short.

  6. I'm curious how a certain special effect was done. A lot of times you can tell by who's credited in the special effects section (miniatures guys or CG guys, etc.) and this information rarely makes it to the IMDb listing in a timely manner.

  7. Sometimes they do a Ferris Bueller thing and give you a little extra scene at the very end. (Usually comedies.)

  8. But the main reason is that I like movie scores, a generally underappreciated part of the filmmaking process. My theory goes, for most of the film, the composer is tasked with marrying his music to the action onscreen. He gets to develop themes and add to the emotional texture of the film, but he isn't really set free to expand the music into his own structure until the end credits, when there is no longer any picture to sync up with. Some movies have pop songs over the credits, and some have lackluster scores – but some have really interesting scores, and the end credits music is a real treat.

Friends who attend movies with me are generally not credit-stayers by nature, but they have come to accept my preference and so they usually stay with me. It can be a nice time to talk about the movie or just enjoy having the auditorium mostly to ourselves. Sure, you're not missing much if you leave, but why not stay and have the full experience? I'm in no hurry to rush off when the lights come up (in the best theatres, they don't come up until after the credits). Sure, most movies are dumb fun and that's it, but many of them benefit from taking a moment or two to let it soak in before you rush back out into the world. As a friend expertly put it, you're in the dark for half the time you're watching the movie. It's a dreamlike experience in a way. I like to wake up, stretch, and climb out of bed slowly – not slam the alarm and be in the car within a minute.

1 Comment (Add your comments)

ACMon, 1/1/07 2:38pm

These are great points. Especially the music one. I'm not generally a credit stayer, but when a movie is particularly good (another rarity), I find that the exit music is a good way to gently come back to reality. The best example that comes to mind for me is "Requiem for a Dream." After enduring the intensity of that film, the end credits, which roll over soft images of Coney Island and the sounds of surf and seagulls, really really made the experience of the whole film come to a nice end. But maybe it's just Clint Mansell. I recently stayed for the credits after watching "The Fountain" because I thought it was the best score I'd heard all year.

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