Before you even get started, allow me to defend myself by saying that I’m perfectly aware that I’m beating a dead horse, but hell, if it’s good enough for David Lynch, it’s good enough for me. Actually, I think it was a dead cow in his case. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure and even though I love the man, he may not have all his marbles in one jar.
As I sat in the theater the other day, trying to enjoy watching The Square, there sat a row away from me a woman who not only ate popcorn like it was her sole mission from the divine to eat popcorn with the volume meter of a Justin Bieber concert, but felt the incessant need to make her moments of shock known to the rest of the audience. That got me thinking about movie theater etiquette, because even though she didn’t do anything painstakingly wrong, I found myself somewhat flustered. The whole point of going to the movies is to have an enjoyable experience, an experience that doesn’t include people behaving as though they’re on the couch in their newly furnished living rooms. There’s a shared understanding when you step foot into a movie theater that you’re not allowed to do certain things, like wave wildly around screaming “fire!” because that is a no-no. Here are the things that bother me:
Look, as a species we’re prone to being conversational, I get it, but there’s a time and a place for everything. Granted, there are those moments when something on the big screen absolutely blows your mind and you feel compelled to say something or else explode. We’ve all been there. During Avatar‘s aerial fight sequence I simply was required to give murmured gasps of astonishment to my friend/neighbor. Normally, I refrain from such indignities, but I couldn’t help myself. That’s different though from having an actual conversation with your neighbor, or even worse, yourself. I’ve sat with almost every conceivable crowd and witnessed every kind of insult to movie viewing. I’ve noticed though, a distinction in generational gaps between what is said. Young folk, such as myself, tend to make their utterances quick, and even when “wow” moments happen, we tend to not say much. Older folk, I have noticed, don’t behave in this fashion. If you’re in a movie theater full of people over the age of forty and watching something that is even mildly dramatic with at least one sudden/sad/horrific death, it is inevitable that you’ll hear “Oh, God,” “Oh My God,” “Oh no,” or my personal favorite, hushes of absolute disbelief, behaving as though they have just seen the worst thing known to man and are just a hairline fracture away from losing what little sanity they have left.
I put some thought into the matter and the only conclusion I can come up with is their shock value tolerance is a lot less than us young’uns. You see, my generation has grown up with a lot of things that weren’t around back in the 60s, 70s, or even 80s, and we have become partially desensitized to say, someone getting hit with a car. Sure, we may jump in surprise, but I promise you, that almost any older person will not be able to keep their mouth shut. This annoys me.
2. Eating Loudly
I have zero problem with bringing snacks into a movie theater, in fact, I condone it to the highest extreme. People should be allowed to eat their candylicious treats and drink their million ounces of soda while relaxing in cushioned chairs. Even popcorn I have no qualms with, for who doesn’t love popcorn?
There comes a time though when you have to question the volume to which you are eating said popcorn. It’s one thing to eat noisily when there are loud explosions to drown out your ludicrous munching, but during a scene where there is blissful quiet, or when the revelatory moment is about to take place and instead of having my mind blown away, I have to put up with hearing your teeth grinding from a distance of several rows…something is very wrong with that.
3. Cell Phones
This is perhaps everyone’s biggest pet peeve, unless you’re the person using your cell phone and in so doing not giving a fiddler’s fart about everyone else who you are disturbing. This is another familiar situation we’ve all come across at some point or another, feeling your phone vibrating as you receive a text/call and experiencing the sensation to throw caution to the wind and answer; but you shouldn’t! When I’m in the theater and my phone vibrates I do the following: I look to see who’s calling/texting, keeping my phone in the pocket, but do not answer under any circumstances. True, I’m still looking, and there is the faint glow from the bowels of my pants, but I’m not taking my phone out and then engaging in a texting battle.
Remember the “Golden Rule” that you were taught in elementary school? No? It goes something like this: Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Do you really want to endure being exposed to an extremely annoying blue light, having your suspension of disbelief put to a halt, taking you out of the movie and putting you in a unhappy place? Well if you’re a rational thinking human being than your answer is “no.” If you feel as though your text/phone call outweighs anything else, including everyone else’s happiness/patience, then leave the theater and take your call there. It’s really that simple.
In conclusion, when you’re in a movie theater, don’t be jackass. It’s not difficult to understand that a movie theater is NOT your living room where no rules apply.
If you want to be the bane of existence to everyone in your near vicinity then please, go ahead and be yourself, just don’t expect niceties to follow.