OBJECTIVE: Watch Avatar once per every week of 2014.

WHEN: June 13, 2014, 6:45pm. (Week 24, June 8-14.)

WHERE: In my apartment in Portland, ME.

FORMAT:  DVD on a 24” Philips CRT television; digital download on an iPhone 3.



Here at Cinema 52, we expose ourselves to the same movie every week for a year to see what effect it will have on our minds.


Not like that.

What have I learned this year? Watching Avatar every week is a real pain (other stuff too, but mostly that). The experience is long and boring, and leaves me feeling drained. But, does the viewing process affect me in quantifiable ways? This week, I decided to see if my reading speed changes immediately after watching Avatar.

As I was in the middle of reading Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, I decided that I would spend exactly one hour before, and one hour immediately after my viewing reading from that bulky tome, and see how many pages I was able to read during each. Bleak House seemed like a good choice for this, because the book grinds along at the same dull pace throughout its duration, leaving little chance that the pages I got to after the viewing would be either more or less interesting than those I read before.

So, how did this pan out? Before my viewing I was able to read 29 pages per hour. Immediately afterward, I was able to read only 26 per hour. That’s an almost 10% drop in reading speed! Exciting? Eh. Maybe. More exciting than reading Bleak House, at any rate.


I mean, really, even the characters in Bleak House look bored.

As to the viewing itself, I allowed myself to simply lay back and stare at the screen. This was not pleasant, but it was no less pleasant than actively mentally engaging with the film. Sadly, even reading what is arguably the thickest and slowest-paced Dickens novel has become more fascinating to me than Avatar. God, that’s sad.

Of course, when all that’s said and done, that 10% drop in reading speed means very little by itself. I’d have to repeat the experiment a number of times in order for that to show anything. Oh, what’s that? I have to watch Avatar again next week? Well, golly gee. Maybe I’ll go ahead and see if these results can be replicated…