Am I the only one who gets annoyed when someone encourages me to go see a movie because “it’ll make you think,” or when it’s suggested that I should “leave my brain at the door,” before entering the theater to see a particular movie?

Anyone else find those encouragements a tad disconcerting?

Allow me to speak from the soapbox that I’m currently propped up on, and say this: You really should be thinking at all times, regardless of what kind of movie it is that you’re watching!

In fact, I’d even suggest that you pay especially close attention to those films that you’d normally dismiss as “mindless entertainment.” In my not-so humble opinion, there’s no such thing as “mindless entertainment.”

Cinema is maybe the most powerful of all mediums; the combination of editing, sound, and moving images can actually be quite influential on how one perceives the world around them, and others in it. Frame by frame, sequence after sequence, scene after scene… the arrangement of elements to form a unified whole, triggering some desired emotional responses, strings of thought and ideas in every viewer; in essence, you’re being played like a fiddle.

Imagine what a lifetime’s dosage of that kind of “assault” does to one’s brain. You’re getting an education and you may not even fully realize it.

We’ve can’t be passive consumers of media, and should instead become much more active participants. Yes, it may make for a somewhat less pleasurable experience, but maybe that’s actually a good thing… ya know! A little discomfort can go a long way.

This compare/contrast that we do between films that supposedly “make you think” and films that don’t, is actually careless, if you really think about it.

So no, don’t leave your brain at the door… take it in there with you and use the damn thing as it’s intended to be.

Think of it in terms of Morpheus’ challenge to Neo in “The Matrix”: “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

Go ahead, take the red pill will ya! It might make your head hurt for a period of time, given how bad some movies can be; but you’ll be further enlightened in the end.

Malcolm Woodard is a film enthusiast and writer living in ATL.