Opinion: Empathetic screens savers

People walk by the Nitehawk cinema, which closed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brooklyn, New York City
Independent movie theaters like the Nitehawk qualify for grant money under the Save Our Stages Act.
Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Since October, I’ve been fortunate to have this space to express myself as I please. I use it to opine for and against various policies drawing a link from macro to the local. Still, nothing draws that line more powerfully than a virus that stopped life as we know it for more than a year and is likely to create new norms for many years to come.

Unfortunately, when we get back to whatever the post-pandemic world, specifically post-pandemic Brooklyn, is, far too many things we took for granted will be gone. Many small businesses were and will be forced to close their doors forever while billionaires getting richer by the minute will swoop in and bargain hunt.

I’m not saying this be gloomy, but because it did not have to be this way and some policies are proving that good things can be done. Take, for instance, the Save our Stages Act. There are technical and detailed aspects of it. The legislation, sponsored by Brooklyn’s own US Senator Chuck Schumer, provides billions of dollars to independent entertainment venues such as music halls and movie theaters to prevent them from closing. 

Everyone and every community have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways. In my personal and professional experience, as a resident and manager of Brooklyn’s Sixth Community District, two things come to mind immediately when thinking of this — the independent Cobble Hill and Nitehawk movie theaters.

Roger Ebert said that movies were like a machine that generates empathy by allowing you to experience and understand what others are going through two hours at a time. Of course, that is even longer if you, like me, are into Scorsese.

After a year of having to stay apart and people worrying as their social skills have deteriorated, I can’t imagine anything better than going to either of these theaters, getting popcorn and whatever (root beer) else, and enjoying whatever is playing.

Something like that is worth saving.