Our informal group started during the mass job reductions of 2008 in Michigan. Mark started seeing a movie once a week during his final days of work before he officially became jobless. I joined him one day after work and we started our informal group watching the blockbuster movie “Cloverfield.” I never imagined when we started this group in 2008 that within 2 years I’d be laid off and join the group for every movie through most of 2010. What started as a hobby with movies like “Cloverfield,” “Vantage Point,” and “10,000 BC” ended up being a mechanism for us to connect to other men in trouble.
Being in Michigan has been tough. Michigan has suffered from 15% unemployment and a major decline in industrial output. Since we started hanging out in movie theaters, men have drifted in and out of our group. A group of guys laughing and being jolly seems to attract other men. Ultimately we realized that there’s such a thing as “unemployed culture” during our exile from work. Since 80% of those laid off were male, our group of movie fanatics has been almost all male for the past two years. The group is informal and shares a group e-mail to set viewings. We prefer AMC movie theaters and are based in Canton, MI. The basic concept of the group originates from the fact that being unemployed is tough and a movie is better when you share it with someone.
Over time, we’ve shown a strong preference for action and horror movies. In 2008 movies like “Jumper,” “Street Kings,” “Iron Man,” “The Dark Knight,” “Clone Wars,” “Max Payne,” and the “Saw” series caught our attention. Watching movies in the quiet of the theater gives us a sense of peace as we mentally try to escape the pain of being out of the workforce. Being unemployed in 2010 is tough, and movie clubs and video groups provide a welcome relief. Our personal favorite of 2008 was “Jumper.”
In 2009, the economy worsened and the group saw many more movies. The group sometimes swelled to 25 unemployed men and a few women. We saw “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,” “Chocolate,” “Watchmen,” “The Haunting In Connecticut,” “Drag Me To Hell,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “The Taking of Pelham 123,” and many others. 2009 was actually a banner year for action movies. We were split on 2009, as some of us really enjoyed “Watchmen” while others truly loved “Public Enemies.” I truly enjoyed both films and remain divided on which was the best one to this day.
2010 opened with my own unemployment, so I could attend every movie this year with the group. It made me happy but also sad. The art of film is enthralling and seeing movies is the ultimate coping mechanism. In long-term unemployment culture, throngs of men attend movies at 1:00 p.m. everyday, so the group will flourish for years until the economy comes back. We have a plan to decide on the 2010 film of the year set for a vote in January 2011. The leading candidates for this year are “Daybreakers,” “The Crazies,” “Iron Man 2,” “The Last Airbender,” and “The Expendables.” My personal favorite is the “Last Airbender.” Of course none of these movies will probably win an Oscar, but they are our favorites and that is very meaningful to us.
The fact that our group flourishes based on free time is a good and bad thing, but with the economy in such a terrible state, it is a great pleasure to watch a good film and escape for an hour or two. From that perspective, I am very grateful for the exquisite work Hollywood provides.