Luca’s Movie Stub

When trying to figure out what to use for the Artifact Interview activity, both Luca and I went rooting around in our wallets.  He produced a movie ticket stub, about 1.5″ square, printed on bluish paper with a pattern of round, gray symbols.  Some of the symbols include an alien head, a skull, and a ninja.  Others are unidentifiable.  One of them says “amc amazing.”  I assume this is the company that owns the chain of theaters to which this one, apparently called Northbrook 14, belongs.

The movie title appears to be Ant Man.  I only vaguely remember hearing about this film, but since the date on the ticket reads “Fri 7/24/2015,” it looks like it was in theaters last summer — the season of blockbusters.  As I study this ticket, I wonder if Luca went to see the movie with a group of people who are special to him.  Or maybe it was a date.  It seems like there must be some reason that he held on to this stub, that he carries it with him in his wallet.

It turns out that saving movie tickets is not unique for Luca — he has a whole drawer full at home.  He says he doesn’t really know why he does it, but suggests that maybe it’s because he likes marking these memories or dates for himself.  Without my asking, Luca offers up a list of other members of his stub collection — AvatarThe AvengersStar Wars: The Force Awakens.  I note with a chuckle that he calls Avatar “that old James Cameron movie.”  To me, “that old James Cameron movie” is Titanic, which was in theaters in 1997.  Avatar came out in 2009, which I guess was seven years ago, but if you had asked me how many years it had been since it was in theaters, I probably would have said only three or four.  I’m guessing Luca would have been eleven or twelve then; that’s how old I was when Titanic came out.  It reminds me of the age gap between myself and my students, which for so long has felt so small but I realize is widening every day.

I ask Luca if he enjoyed this movie, and he says he did.  “It was a more comedic movie,” he explains, “It was a different spin on the super hero genre, which is what I like.”  Despite the fact that he likes the super hero genre, he still thought it had gone “old and stale” by last summer, and that’s why Ant Man was appealing to him as a “change of pace.”  Though it was still in the Marvel universe, it was refreshing to him because Ant Man didn’t take itself too seriously as a film, and the titular character seemingly “made fun of a lot of other heroes.”  Maybe Ant Man, with his power to shrink to the size of an ant — not exactly the display of manliness and power typical of the quintessential super hero — is something of an Anti-hero.  Someone we love despite (or because) of his difference.

Luca went to see Ant Man on that day in late July with a group of his high school friends — mostly guys, but some girls — who shared similar interests, including the super hero genre of movies.  “It was fun,” he says.  “It was really fun.”  Although this is just one among a lot of movie stubs he saves, it seems, he does specifically remember this occasion and the good time he had.  I wonder if it is because he was about to go away to college, potentially a different college from those friends at the theater with him.  I wonder if this is the last movie they saw together before parting ways.

Although he doesn’t immediately identify his drawer full of movie tickets with a special interest in film in general, Luca does tell me that he has become something of a hub for movie-watching in his dorm.  He subscribes to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and also Xfinity — multiple accounts through which he can access and screen films for himself and friends.  “Every Friday or Saturday, a bunch of friends come over and we just watch movies from my laptop,” he says.  “It kind of feels like a movie theater in my dorm when I turn off the lights.”

Luca’s artifact, a ticket stub, is rife with possible meaning.  It’s a metaphor in itself — and one so common as to be almost trite.  A ticket is a means of access, a symbol of opportunity that only a certain number of people can hold at once.  In that way, tickets can be divisive, hierarchical.  Not everyone can always afford to buy the tickets they need or want in life, and the number of them is almost always limited.  But tickets can unite people, too, through shared experiences.  Luca keeps stubs just for this reason: to mark memories in time.  This memory of a late July outing in Chicago can serve as a tangible connection to the people he shared it with, who may now be distant.  But the ticket also represents an interest that is helping him to make new friends — friends who don’t need tickets to attend movie nights in his dorm.  In that way, it’s a means of access that is not hierarchical or divisive.  It’s a connection point between the past and the present.