The last few times I’ve gone to a movie at our local theater I’ve seen the ad with the punch line, “We’re All The Same When The Lights Go Down.”
I don’t understand this (and given the insipidness of advertising I’m probably not supposed to). Does it mean:
1. If I’m not seen (it’s dark, so I can’t be seen – well, at least not very well), I don’t exist. My fellow movie goers (or is it fellow Coke drinkers in the dark?) are equally unseen, so they too don’t exist. I think here of Bishop Berkeley’s dictum, esse est percipi (to be is to be perceived).
2. If we are attending to the same thing we are the same. How can this be? I admit the set up of a theater is to minimize if not eliminate in particularity in viewing perspective. We’re supposed to see the same thing the same way. But what of our pasts? Do we have a past? Do we bring our pasts with us? Or is there a magical effect that cuts off our past when the lights go down so that we become merely creatures of the moment?
3. Following on #2, perhaps its the little story on the small screen (we call it the Big Screen to contrast it with the Small Screen of TV) relativized or eliminated the Big Story, the metanarrative, that Lyotardian postmodernity urges us to set aside.
4. We’re all consumers. Anything else about us is irrelevant, as long as we have shared the experience of buying a movie ticket and a Coke.
5. Following on #4: The consumptive (that sounds more pejorative than “consumer.” doesn’t it?) experience brings us together. The dollar sets aside all other commitments and convictions.
6. Our differences – race, age, gender, nationality, culture, religion – tear us apart and kill us. Only as we are homogenized will we find real peace. Coke and the shared experience of a couple hours sitting the dark staring at a flickering screen will help us eliminate those differences so we can live in peace and harmony and all sing the same song. This even works if the images on the flickering screen are of constant violence, murder, and mayhem.
7. I miss the point. It’s just a stupid ad and I think too much.