Monday, June 21, 2010

Watch This: The Evolution of the Internet (or Play Bingo at Hamburger Mary's This Tuesday!)

I've been meaning to write a post about Watch This for some time, but I've also wanted to put something together about how it fits into the broader context of the internet. Here we go.

Ten years ago, it was popular to point out the following paradox: while bowling alley revenues were increasing, bowling league participation was decreasing. The idea was that people were becoming more and more isolated from each other. And the internet, at one time heralded for its ability to "connect" people, wasn't counteracting that trend. Generally speaking, it was thought that the internet was enabling people to avoid in-person contact with each other. Why go to a "brick-and-mortar" store when you can buy everything online? Why go to a bar when you can get a six-pack, stay at home, and go to a chat room? The blogosphere is largely part of this phenomenon: you've got the conservative bloggers, liberal bloggers, libertarian bloggers, and so on. You can manage to avoid all contact with anyone who might disagree with you.

Over the past couple years, I think there's been a backlash against that. People don't want the faux connectionalism of the internet; they want the real thing. So the internet has become a tool to create and facilitate real, face-to-face interactions. Cincinnati Imports in a manifestation of this trend. Candace Klein's Bad Girl Ventures is another example of using the web to create connections between people that go well beyond fiberoptic. And Watch This also shows the power of the internet to get people together in the physical world.

For those of you who don't know, Watch This is the brainchild of Alex and Allison (who, I believe, actually met at a Cincinnati Imports event). The idea: watch all of the movies on the AFI Top 100 Movies list in 2010. It started off simple enough. Alex and Allison would screen each of the movies in their living room, inviting anyone who read their blog to come over. Then, others started offering to host movies. Then they started to book larger facilities (including the 20th Century Theatre and, later this month, Fountain Square).

I'm ashamed to say that they're nearly halfway through the list, and I still haven't been to a screening. I'll fix that soon, though (how can any lawyer worth his salt NOT show up on August 27th for To Kill a Mockingbird?). Showing up at a non-friend's living room is a bit out of my comfort zone. But if you're like me in that regard, fear not: lots of future screenings are at places like Take the Cake, Baba Budan's, and Grammers.

It turns out, though, that you can't just rent a movie and invite a bunch of strangers to a public place to watch it. Instead, you've got to pay for the screening rights to do that. So tomorrow night, Hamburger Mary's is hosting a fundraiser to help defray those costs. From 8:00 to 10:00, you can stop by the restaurant/bar (on Vine between Ninth and Court) and play drag-queen bingo. Apparently, there's prizes. And Hamburger Mary's has invented a drink for the occasion--vodka cherry lime with Cotton Candy.

So if you've been to one of the movies, or if you think you might go, pop into Hamburger Mary's for a fun, bingo-filled night (there's even prizes!). And show up to a movie sometime; I know I will.

(I do have one question about Watch This: when the movie is hosted at the Cincinnati Athletic Club, does everyone go for a naked swim afterwords?)

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