The news that Fandango, the company that sells admissions to movies online, is expanding its use of “paperless tickets,” using bar codes for smart phones instead, makes perfect sense…but doesn’t make me happy. There goes another facet of the moviegoing experience: tickets!
Mind you, I haven’t received a decent-looking admission ticket in years; what you get nowadays would better be described as a receipt, not so different from the scrap of paper you receive for purchasing a cantaloupe or a package of gum from your neighborhood market.
Tickets used to be uniform in size and shape: those little notched pieces of card-stock paper were a souvenir, or at least a remnant, of going to the movies. (I think of myself as a pack-rat, but I never thought of doing what a friend of mine has: he’s saved every ticket stub he’s accumulated over the years in a huge glass bowl in his living room.)
I find it grimly amusing that tickets, like projectors, reels, and strips of film with sprocket holes, remain vivid and instantly identifiable icons for graphic artists who want to indicate “movies” in visual shorthand—yet, ironically, they are no longer part of the modern movie world. It’s hard to conjure up a look for something virtual, like digital projection or a bar code.
Yes, I’m aware that I sound like an old crank lost in the mist of nostalgia, but I can’t wipe away a lifetime of moviegoing memories. I actually remember paying 25 cents for my first kiddie matinee, which soon advanced to 35 cents, and then 50 cents. (Grownups back then paid anywhere from 75 cents to $1.50, as I recall.) I don’t have any stubs from those New Jersey movie theaters, many of which are gone by now, but I cherish the experiences I had in those formative years of my life. They made me fall in love with movies. That’s why I can’t be dismissive when it comes to phasing out something tangible, like a ticket, that was so much a part of those years.