- Author(s): Clive Marsh
- When: 2016-01
- Where: Journal of Religion & Film
My purpose in this paper is simple: to argue for the importance of viewers’ responses to the practice of film-watching as a context in which they discover or construct meanings by which they live their lives. I also wish to claim that such meaning-making activity has to be seen as ‘theological’ because of the way it actually functions. To fail to recognise this will prove socially, ethically and politically dangerous. The viewing environment – be that at the cinema, in a domestic setting watching TV, or in the many other contexts in which viewing may occur (films shown on portable devices, for example) – is not especially significant here. Though I have argued in the past that cinema-going is a religion-like practice (Marsh, 2004), my argument here does not require this. Wherever they are watched, films bring things out of people and viewers do things with films. Nor shall I argue that film-watching is especially important over other forms of artistic participation or appreciation (opera, classical music), consumption of popular culture (video games, popular music) or social practices such as sport. All of these may function equally, or even more so, than film-watching, as contexts of meaningmaking. I contend simply that film-watching features amongst these practices, and functions significantly for viewers.