Wednesday, January 15, 2014

BIG’s Blog: Watching Gladiator in an Empty Theater

The movie Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe, came out in the summer of 2000. If you have seen the movie then you know it was one of the best epic movies of all time. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth watching.

Gladiator grossed over $450 million worldwide, making it a huge theatrical success. Yet when I saw it one afternoon way back in 2000, I was the only one in the theater.

Of course, part of that could be chalked up to an afternoon matinee with lots of summer options available, and indeed the fact that it grossed $450 million worldwide in theaters puts this movie (for the year 2000) in the blockbuster category. But even in 2000, the trend toward home entertainment (including watching movies) was well-established. In 1991, the author Faith Popcorn (yes, that was her real last name) identified and described the larger societal trend of “Cocooning” in her book, The Popcorn Report. She described Cocooning as individuals socializing less and retreating into their homes more.   

Of course this “staying in at home” trend was not new, and had been going on since the advent of radio, and then was accelerated by television in the 1950s. I remember when I was growing up that older people [my age now] used to be out sitting on their porches talking to passers by, or be out in the yard talking to neighbors, or even off to social and civic club meetings in the evening. I have observed in third world countries (where poverty prevents the acquisition of much home entertainment technology) that the people are out socializing in the evening. I have also heard that in some European countries, especially the more Latin cultures, that evening socializing culture is so ingrained that it has resisted the rise of Cocooning as it is found in the United States.  

Especially in the US, the Internet is creating the pipeline for all kinds of downloadable entertainment. This technology build-out is solidifying the trend toward more viewing/listening/reading in the home and less outside-of-the-home socializing. And while most of us enjoy the greater menu of in-home entertainment options that our Internet-accessed gadgets provide, we also hunger for human connection.

In the evenings, when we are caught up on work-related stuff, that is “our time” to read, watch, or listen to something of common interest or passion to our family, our friends, or us. And for many people that is when they are online reading and catching up on social media, which, in turn, introduces them to contacts through social media that they may have never heard of.

Cocooning and the connected Internet lead to more opportunities to discover what is out there on the Web. Insofar as your organization is making a focused effort to shift your messaging 100% online where you can deliver all kinds of news and stories about “who you are” and “what your organization is about” … the potential to intersect many, many new potential supporters is huge.

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