Arts and Culture

Big Brother is everywhere: Theaters to introduce movie screens that watch you

Ever read George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984, wherein the powers that be monitor your every move via video devices called telescreens? Super creepy, right? Well now a creepily similar technology is coming to a theater near you.

According to a recent Fast Company article, movie theaters will soon have a technology that can monitor viewers' facial reactions to determine what advertisements and what movie scenes make the best impressions on our ever-impressionable minds. The optical devices will be able to detect changes in facial expressions of individuals, and also determine if someone is alone or in a group. So advertisers will know exactly how many suckers are buying into their spiels, and at exactly which moments. This will help companies better gear advertising towards movie-goers, which could be a good thing, considering we could get some more entertaining ads out of it. On the other hand, Big Brother.

Of course, sensors to detect video-camera eyes in order to deter bootlegging have been in use for some time now, and this is all in the name of capitalism: We have to sell the ads to sell the products to keep the economy moving (which is also eerily similar to 1984, by the way), but here's wondering if this new technology will affect a backlash for theaters. It would be one thing if you didn't know about it, but now that you know about it, doesn't it make you think twice about going to a theater, knowing marketing analysts are using your reactions to tailor the next blockbuster to an aggregation of our collective facial expressions?

Movie scripts are already generic enough without a technology that identifies the exact right moment for the girl to slowly, but surely, turn, consider her options, hesitate, then gain the courage to stop being mad at the guy and run back and kiss him. And this development seems to portend a new low of generic: the slow-motion panning shot around the lovers timed to the second, for your dopamine satisfaction quota, and that's a wrap.

What do you think? Does this make you less inclined to attend a theater show and subject yourself to scrutiny, or does it not bother you and you figure they're watching us all the time anyway?

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Ben Dayton
Contact: Ben Dayton