Culture Clips: When Theaters Reopen …

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Someday we will publish an issue of Culture Clips that doesn’t contain the words coronavirus or COVID-19.

Alas, not today.

Today, it’s hard to find an entertainment, technology or teen-oriented story out there in the vast reaches of the internet that doesn’t have something to do with this virus. Still, talk of beginning to reopen at least some parts of the economy has grown a bit louder this week. And that’s prompted this question for movie afficionados: When will theaters reopen? And what might be different about “going to the movies”?

Deadline.com began to try to answer those questions this week. The biggest difference may likely be where we sit in relationship to each other. Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro and Mike Fleming Jr. write:

The configuration being contemplated by AMC and other chains, sources said, begins with the chessboard seating chart, with customers only sitting in the black squares. So there’s nobody next to you, nobody in front of you, and the nearest person is off to an angle behind you and in front of you. That’ll keep you at a fairly safe distance, if someone coughs or sneezes.

Regarding when multiplexes might conceivably reopen, D’Alessandro and Fleming Jr. report that some theaters chains are targeting June, while others think July dates are more realistic. Disney seems to be betting on the latter probability, with Mulan being the first of the postponed Mouse House flicks to potentially open … on July 24.

And pretty much everything else that was supposed to happen this spring or summer in popular culture—from movies to concerts to festivals to any other communal event you can think of—has also been postponed or cancelled.

All of these changes have had a profound effect on, well, almost all of us. Some folks are concerned, though, that our collective sequestering is particularly impacting teens. Seniors in high school, especially, have been forced to cope with the loss of once-in-a-lifetime events, such as senior prom and graduation.

MTV News focused on still more ways sheltering at home is negatively influencing teens, from increased struggles with anxiety and mental health, to limited access to counselors, to the denial of many benefits that going to school confers on youth in at-risk situations: “School is often a safe haven to many people: It’s where students have access to the internet; where victims of domestic violence can access valuable resources; and where young people experiencing food insecurity can turn for a meal.”

All those factors are a lot for adolescents to deal with, which prompted CNN’s Scottie Andrew to note, “Teens may never be the same after the pandemic.”

And if you’re wondering what’s occupying our time during the lockdown, MTV News also has some info on that. Not surprisingly, video chatting has gone through the roof—no matter which generation you’re a part of. According to an MTV/YouGov poll, 38% of all Americans say they’ve been using video chat more than usual during the lockdown. While that might not seem like that big a leap, this one is: Zoom reports that it’s average number of daily users has jumped from a modest 10 million to 200 million in the last three months—making this relatively obscure brand something of an overnight sensation (even if the company has also been hampered by security concerns). As for younger generations, Millennials report drinking more in the last two weeks, while Gen Z is spending more time cooking.

It’s terrific to have tools like Zoom and other similar video chat apps. But some are noting that using it frequently, especially for work, also comes with a dark side: exhaustion. In her article, “My virtual social life is exhausting: Turns out Zoom cocktail hours can burn you out, too,” Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams writes,

These days, thanks to FaceTime and Zoom, I am having happy hours with my college buddies, cooking Saturday dinner with a former colleague, taking morning walks with a friend in Paris and talking about books with the person I took my first writing class with. In these difficult hours, I could not be more nourished with companionship. And I’m exhausted. … With our days now bleeding into each other with a “Groundhog Day”-like fluidity, work is home and home is school and school is yoga class and yoga class is therapy and therapy is somebody’s birthday party and somebody’s birthday party is work.

One antidote to it all is as close as your legs and your front door: going for a walk. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, essayist Shane O’Mara unpacks the psychological and physiological benefits of walking, saying, “Movement through the world changes the dynamics of the brain itself.”

And if that doesn’t make you feel better about the crazy state of things these days, maybe watching this viral video of the Heller family recreating Journey’s 1983 video for its hit song “Separate Ways” will put a smile on your face:

I think it’s safe to say that Mr. Heller has been to Dad Rock school and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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