Going to the movies is a vital part of our culture and it will survive the coronavirus
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My mother went to the hospital when I was 14, and it was the first (but certainly not last) time she talked about what my sister and I should do if she died: "Don't be sad. Say goodbye, and then go to a movie."

She was released the next day, but her guidance has always stayed with me. When times are tough, movies are an escape into a different world, one we enter for a couple of hours and then leave, emboldened, entertained, moved and sometimes even changed. Things don't have to be bad for movies to work their magic; they are equally transformative when life is grand.

Coronavirus has wreaked havoc upon movies and movie theaters around the country. For the first and only time since movies were invented, cinemas across the globe have shut down. World War II couldn't do that. The Great Depression couldn't do that. The Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy assassination couldn't do that. Nothing has ever gotten in the way of the movies, until now.


Recent news that AMC Theatres, the biggest cinema chain in the U.S., could be facing bankruptcy, combined with reports that streaming services like Disney+ are seeing record growth during the unprecedented stay-at-home period, have led some to speculate that once the coronavirus threat has passed, moviegoing won't recover.

Moviegoing will survive.

To be sure, there's reason to worry. The number of tickets sold each year has eroded – 14 percent fewer people went to the movies in 2019 than 20 years earlier. Ticket prices, meanwhile, have risen steadily to offset that decline (it cost an average of $9.11 to see a movie last year, while in 1998, the year Titanic was released, the average ticket cost $4.69). Complaints about rude, talkative, device-addicted audiences are common, and long before the virus there was growing concern in Hollywood that people just wanted to stream at home. Movie studios, streaming services and film exhibitors have been eyeing each other warily for years, battling over the right of cinemas to show movies before they appear on Netflix or Amazon.


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That movie "window" has been in contention for decades, ever since studios discovered in the late 1980s that they could sell movies directly to consumers. Then, it took nearly a year for a huge hit like Top Gun to come to VHS tape, which was just one of the "ancillary revenue" streams studios could use to ensure a movie earned money long after its box-office run. Home video was at the top of that secondary revenue stream, but there were also sales to cable and network TV, to airlines and hotel chains, even theatrical re-releases.

On its own, chasing after the dream of a pure "direct-to-consumer" business, Hollywood drained that revenue stream. VHS gave way to DVD, which was subsumed almost entirely by streaming – and the ubiquity of streaming services meant travelers didn't need to pay to watch movies in hotels or airplanes.

And yet … none of that killed movie theaters. If fewer people, on average, saw movies in cinemas each year, about 3 million people were still going to movie theaters every day, and despite the fluctuations, that number had remained fairly constant.


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It may be nothing compared with pre-television moviegoing; in 1946, 90 million people went to the movies once a week, but by 1960 that had plummeted to 40 million. Naysayers predicted the death of movie theaters then, but larger-than-life gimmicks like CinemaScope, Cinerama, the first wave of 3-D and even Smell-O-Vision cropped up, and movie lovers proved that they could be passionate about movies and TV, that one didn't have to usurp the other.

Likewise, those 15 to 20 million people who go to the movies each week despite the advent of streaming prove that sitting in the dark is a habit moviegoers don't want to break.

There's no doubt movie exhibitors have a difficult task ahead. They're going to need to reassure audiences – quickly and constantly – that moviegoing is safe. To begin, they might need to limit the number of tickets sold, and to show movies less frequently, with vigilant and high-profile cleaning in between screenings.

They're going to need to be scrupulous about cleanliness – more scrupulous than they have been, for sure. Snack bars, restrooms and auditoriums will need to be equally spotless, and movie theaters will need to offer many options for audiences to clean their own seats and spaces. It's not going to be easy. The most important innovations won't be on screen, they'll be in the auditoriums themselves.

But all those wonderful people out there in the dark are going to return. It's in their nature. And "their" means "our." We need movies. We need the reassurance, hope, excitement, belief, happiness and promise that they bring. We have always craved stories in the dark. The brilliant light of the projector is our fire, and just as we have for eons we will gather around it to be told stories that help us make sense of our terrifying, glorious, overwhelming world.

That will never be more true than after this collective trauma, when we finally all begin to stagger out of our houses to see how the world has changed. That time will come, and like the victims of any disaster, we will take stock and find that some have fared better than others. We will assess what we have retained, mourned what we have lost, and we will all follow my mother's words: "Don't be sad. Say goodbye, and then go to a movie."

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.