Ever catch something in a movie or video game that makes you go “waaaait a minute…?” Ever find yourself wondering why nobody in her school recognizes Hannah Montana even though she looks exactly like plain old Miley with a wig on? This is called Suspension of Disbelief, coined by Victorian poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner) in the early 19th century. Essentially it happens when (and Coleridge used it namely with mythological creatures and fantasy in his poetry) the creator of a particular work (film, literature, art, etc) asks his audience to believe in some type of fantasy, even though it cannot exist in the realm of the real world. For example, George Lucas prefaces the movie Star Wars with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” This is a direct request for viewers to remove themselves from reality and enter into a world that is completely un-like the world we live in. With this preface, we know as viewers not to question the reality of what we’re watching, just to go with it and have fun. With the rapid expansion of technology in the film/gaming industry and the ever-growing demand for means of entertainment, this theory holds tight more than ever.
When it comes to your home theater, Suspension of Disbelief can be split into two categories, similar to fiction and non-fiction. The fiction category is how you’d classify all the Hannah Montana and Star Wars stuff, where you’re being asked within the story to leave your comfy chair and enter a world where things are different than the world you live in. The non-fiction category refers to the technical aspect. Have you ever seen an old episode of Dr. Who or StarTrek? You as the viewer are asked to ignore the ridiculous special effects, bad dialogue, silly costumes, and awful audio effects and immerse yourself anyway. The audio and film industries have made unimaginable leaps and bounds in technology since those campy old SciFi flicks, and your home theater experience should be no different. Rapidly improving 3D TV’s, projectors, gaming systems, HD surround sound, and HDMI specifications are all but eliminating this kind of Suspension of Disbelief, allowing you to jump head-first into your favorite movie or video game, without having to “ignore” the technical stuff. And it’s only getting more realistic. Your 3D TV will put you right in the middle of fantastic places. Your HD surround sound will make your experience more intense. Your internet-ready projector puts millions of streaming movies, TV shows, and video games instantly at your fingertips. And you can have this all in the comfort of your own home. Now that really is movie magic.