Some things might need to become a new norm after COVID-19. Beyond the big lessons we learned over the past year, there are also smaller things I definitely hope remain a thing after the pandemic subsides. One of those things happens to be virtual screenings and broadcasts for students.
I’m not the only person who’s been able to engage in the vast majority of virtual opportunities that have been presented during the pandemic. About a month ago, the University Activities Board sponsored an event where Antoni Porowski, one of the leads from Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” did a cooking demonstration. The event was completely free, and individuals could even win free stickers or aprons. I’ve also seen videos of students in virtual classes where their teacher surprised them with a famous celebrity entering the Zoom, such as Joe Gatto from “Impractical Jokers.” In fact, during my Introduction to Film course last semester, my professor actually surprised us by getting Byron Hurt, director of “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” to talk with us about his documentary.
The NC State Student Film Society also granted me one of these amazing opportunities, as those in the film club were able to screen “Bad Trip” before it came out. At this screening, viewers got to meet Eric Andre and Michaela Conlin, who both starred in this film. We also got to see behind-the-scenes footage which didn’t make it to the film, which was hilarious. I was lucky to be able to attend such a fun event and probably wouldn’t have been able in pre-pandemic times. A couple of weeks ago, while scrolling through TikTok, I saw an ad for a virtual event for a show I had recently watched. The creators of “The Wilds” were talking about season two and answering fan questions. It was a free event, and anyone could attend through registration.
Any in-person screenings for big-name films or television shows are usually done in large cities like New York City or Los Angeles. This is due to the outreach it has in this city and the fact that many celebrities tend to live near large urban centers. However, people who don’t live in these cities can never engage in the films or meet these famous people, since they can’t travel any time there's a screening.
This is why virtual screenings must continue to be popular. They provide accessibility unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Most of the screenings are either free or have a small fee to attend. There’s also no need to travel anywhere as these meetings are generally available to anyone who has a computer. It’s easier for celebrities to be available for these events as well, since it’s simply opening an app on their laptop.
I want NC State to continue providing fun virtual activities for our students. It is not only easier to attend a virtual event, but it allows students the freedom to attend something without having to go anywhere. These events being free or low-cost could also help college students, as we are generally notorious for liking free stuff. Besides the number of opportunities this could provide for students, being able to meet famous people is always a plus. I, for one, am thankful for this new practice and hope I can attend many more virtual screenings and events in the future.