I ran across a fascinating article today, Louis C.K. and the Rise of the 'Laptop Loners' by Adam Wilson, delving into the effect of shrinking screens on our viewing experience. Here are a few excerpts:
These days it’s different. The young — and the young at heart — bundle into beds, laptops and tablets propped inches from faces. They are snug in these cocoons, sequestered from all stimuli but those they source from screen and headphones. People watch alone now or in pairs, at odd hours, either streamed, downloaded, or on DVD, sometimes months or years after the shows have originally aired . . .
. . . Louie’s singularity lies in its ability to further confound viewers by setting up jokes, and then providing pathos instead of punch lines. Not only does Louie’s audience not know when to laugh, they don’t even know if what they’re watching is supposed to be funny. For the Laptop Loner, this ambiguity is made all the more palpable by the absence of viewing partners; we use other people’s reactions to gauge the correctness of our own. But it also makes the ambiguity less assaulting. Alone, we can be comfortable in our discomfort . . .
. . . Demographic fragmentation has insured the demolition of a targeted mainstream, and perhaps even our new way of watching — alone, quarantined by our screens — encourages the kind of departures from convention that Louie gets away with. When you’re not surrounded by family and friends, it’s easier to give yourself over to strangeness, to follow the associative narrative of unmediated consciousness. As anyone whose ever seen a planetarium’s Pink Floyd laser light show knows, the collective dream is a harder thing to achieve, especially without hallucinogens.
What do you think? Do you interact with entertainment differently now that you watch it alone on a laptop? I'd love to hear your thoughts!