Overrated / Underrated: Movies vs. TV, California vs. California

Moviegoing behavior
(Peter and Maria Hoey / For the Times)


Movies: You wouldn’t necessarily know it living in Los Angeles, but apart from the semi-annual tilt-a-whirl of blockbusters from Marvel, “Star Wars” and whatever else might soon become a theme park ride, the act of going to movies feels endangered. They’re cost-prohibitive, the studios are more risk-averse than ever and why bother going out when Netflix just dropped seven new shows since you started reading this sentence? Unlike TV, the best movie experiences require focus removed from our phones and chattering brains. The films that reward that focus may seem harder to find, but two hours of undivided attention is worth a $15 ticket alone.

California: It’s 840 miles of dramatic coastline as well as ancient forests, majestic mountains and more natural wonders in parks including Sequoia, Yosemite and Joshua Tree than typically found on entire continents. Creative people from all over head south to tell their stories in music, TV and film or head north toward a never-ending Gold Rush of innovation that might actually help save the planet in spite of ourselves. Its mix of cultures and climates contains the entire world, and despite (or perhaps because of) its many problems, this is what the future looks like. For all its troubles, California can handle anything, and you should definitely stop moving here.


California: It’s hot. It’s crowded. Each year home prices reach a new, absurdly expensive height that’s impossible for most of us. And when it’s not under a constant threat of drought and wildfire, there is, for the past few months at least, a sudden and surprising penchant for rain. (And don’t get us started on earthquakes.) To the south, the state traffics in mythic and unattainable ideals for beauty and success, and to the north, it “disrupts” businesses, social habits and, well, civilization with technology driven by profit and world domination with no regard for consequences. For all its promise, California is a mess, and you should definitely stop moving here.


Too much TV?
(Brian Stauffer / For the Times)

TV: If there’s not another can’t-miss show debuting tomorrow, it’s a brand new streaming outlet, which only wants 10 more dollars a month from you to go on top of what you spend on the four or five services that you pay for already. And since our TVs got bigger and broadband got broader, there’s little reason to leave the house for entertainment, especially because no one will judge you there for staring at your phone while the next episode automatically starts. It’s not that so many choices are bad, but if you count how many of those shows really left an personal impact amid all that noise they would probably still fit on just four channels.

Editor’s note: Chris Barton is leaving California for a new life in Oregon, which means this will be our last Overrated/Underrated column. A parting observation: Overrated: Californians moving to Oregon. Underrated: Chris Barton.

Follow me over here @chrisbarton.