The power and limitations of 3D

[From The Red & Black, the independent student newspaper of the University of Georgia]

[Image from Angry AP]

3D will plague screens for years to come

By MEGAN WHITE on September 25, 2011

My first televised encounter with the third dimension occurred at Disney World’s MGM Studios when I was only six years old. In order to fully embrace the tacky tourist experience, my parents had decided to take my sister and me to see “The Muppets” in the park’s high tech, state-of-the-art 3D theater. For a six-year-old in the 90s, anything involving the Muppets was instantly appealing, so with loaded fanny packs and wound-up disposable cameras, we set off for MGM’s three-dimensional extravaganza.

Within 20 minutes, I was in tears. Having a larger-than-life Fozzie Bear come flying out of the screen not only scared the living daylights out of me, but also brought along waves of nausea, a lifelong fear of puppets, and an automatic and deep-seeded disdain for anything in so-called “3D.”

Since that traumatizing day in 1998, my pop-out nemesis has slithered its way into mass media, infiltrating and taking over our dearly beloved American consumerist culture as we know it. We can no longer refer to cinema as the silver screen, as films now refuse to stay on the screen. The thick, black, “Real 3D” glasses handed out in 3D theaters have become an integral element of 21st century fashion. Paying up to $6 more at the box office for a pair of these glasses and an “enhanced experience” is no longer a big deal, when those same dollars could very well have been spent on a small popcorn and drink. I call shenanigans.

From “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” to “Up” to “The Final Destination,” the monstrosity that is 3D has snowballed to the point where not even childhood classics are safe. With the recent release of Disney’s “The Lion King 3D,” filmmakers have crossed the line. If three-dimensional Muppets left me cowering in my chair, imagine what a full-blown wildebeest stampede heading straight for my face would have done. My heart goes out to the young children who must endure such a prospect. Not even Disney will protect them now.

Just when I thought it was enough to steer clear of movie theaters, companies such as Samsung and Panasonic began to roll out 3D televisions. From the comfort of their own homes, people can watch stuff fly out of screens. Forget Monopoly and Life. Family game night now involves donning ridiculous glasses and swatting at objects that aren’t even there. And now, thanks to HTC EVO 3D phones, we can ogle at virtual images on the go. There is virtually no escape from this virtual reality.

But the glitz and glamour of 3D will never fool me. Na’vi’s meandering hair tentacles in “Avatar” did not trick me into thinking I was one with the blue people. A pair of glasses that makes it look like an explosion has encroached upon my personal bubble does not make me a character in the movie. I am surrounded by 3D every day. It’s called real life. The simplicity of a two-dimensional movie gives me a chance to shut my brain off for a while and not exert the energy to duck behind my seat.

Complain as I may, 3D is here to stay. When Fozzie Bear leapt from the screen on that fateful day in 1998, he was delivering an important message from all things 3D: we’re in your face, and we’re never, ever going away.

Megan White is a freshman from John’s Creek majoring in international affairs

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