Dear Martin Scorsese, what are you doing with my feelings?
A new technology attempts to monitor your emotions during every second of a movie. Might this destroy the movie experience?
They're killing surprise.
They're doing it surely, but quickly.
I always thought that surprise was the most beautiful part of life. Once something's predictable or planned, the pleasure is dulled.
However, the thirst for knowing everything, knowing about everything and everyone is too great, too all-encompassing for those behind every wonderful mind- and body-tracking tool.
The latest, and most certainly the greatest, is a tool that tells movie directors how you're really feeling during a movie.
British startup Studio XO is experimenting with wrist bands (you are nothing without at least a LiveStrong band, right?) that reveal your true emotions during a movie and project them onto the big screen.
You can just imagine the test screenings of the future.
Martin Scorsese, a hoodie over his head and a comely girlfriend over his shoulder, sits at the back, waiting for audience reactions.
Yet instead of waiting for gasps, groans or yawns, he's watching a computer screen. There, every singly emotion of every single member of the audience is displayed for him to admire and consider.
Worse, his executive producers (all 10 of them) are staring intently.
That woman in row three's feelings scared. The man next to her is excited. What the f***. This is supposed to be a romantic comedy, Marty!
And so Martin Scorsese is sent back for re-shoots to ensure that his comedy doesn't frighten people, or his thriller doesn't make people feel romantic.
In my colleague Stephen Shankland's expose of this marvelous technology, he wrote this sentence: "Studio XO hopes emotion monitors will become as common as fitness monitors today."
An interesting hope. It seems that many people get their fitness monitors, wear them for a week, and then inner human emotions kick in: the ones that howl: "I can't be bothered with this crap."
These experimental tech companies have very techy theories. They believe that there are many reasons for wanting to know what someone else is feeling. The interest might be parental, educational or merely loving. Or merely advertising.
But there might just be a couple of problems here.
Firstly, where does it all stop? Are we truly supposed to have every feeling monitored so that we become the very same self-articulating, self-obsessed beings we are when we're sniffling to our shrink -- but worse?
Then there's the idea that all our emotions will be mapped, somewhere by someone.
If we're given details of this mapping, might this not influence our own feelings? Might we know what emotions are expected of us and, in our usual people-pleasing way, try to express that very feeling?
When it comes to movies, my feelings about a movie can change. I can feel one thing in a movie theater, and, when I let a movie live inside me for a while, I might have completely different feelings about it. Should I watch it a second time, different feelings might emerge.
It's not impossible, too, to express one thing while actually feeling another. Anyone who's ever been involved in sex surely knows that.
Then there's the aspect of perfect knowledge -- the constant insistence that something electronic will measure something human with absolute accuracy.
"But I feel fine."
"Shut up, you're actually dying. Now take this injection."
Here's the thing about accuracy: If we don't know what we're feeling, how can a machine? Are the parameters of these things constructed with such ineffable perfection that they know what we're feeling even when we don't?
If all it takes is a wristband to tell me how I'm feeling, then humanity really doesn't consist of much, does it?
"God, I feel good today."
"You're actually depressed, you miserable twerp. Take a Xanax."
And then there's the whole thing about movies. They're escapism. They're the place where we take our inner selves to vacate, stop pretending, and release.
If we now have to start thinking about what we're feeling, we'll become the worst first date in history.
Moreover, I can just imagine the scene halfway through a movie. I'm not sure what I'm feeling, but I suspect it's vague boredom.
A nurse suddenly sidles up beside me. "You've got the wrong emotions about this movie," she says. "Here, take one of these for optimum viewing performance."
I'll swallow the pill, smile, and feel grateful.