I’ll absolutely concede that the movie theater is not a church (though I could spend some time defending that hypothesis), but I’m alarmed by an emerging trend of interruption at the movie theater and am finding my love for the theater waining as a result; not the movies themselves, but rather the community setting in which I watch them in. Lately, I’ve contended with disruptive patrons who have no reverence for the flick they just plunked down $12 or more to see.
People behind me are engaging in extended asides. People in front of me are checking their cell phones for long periods of time. People next to me are snacking obnoxiously during quiet scenes. I’m well aware that I sound like an over-sensitive grandpa here, but despite several witty disclaimers from the theater operators prior to the opening credits, people seem to feel like they have the right to treat the theater like it’s their living room, and I’m tired of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the Quiet Police. In fact, there are times that disruption at the theater actually enhanced my experience. The rap battle scenes in 8 Mile were made all the more visceral as audience members collectively bobbed their heads to the freestyles and jumped out of their seats cheering for notable punchlines. I took an optimistic perspective by the end of Brick Mansions due to the hilarious commentary being hurled at the screen during preposterous action sequences. The positive cheering and applauding during the climax of The Avengers elevates my memory of that opening weekend. But incessant noise for the sake of hearing yourself talk should be unacceptable, an ejectable offense.
I was at a screening of Dumb and Dumber To this weekend, a movie that is by no means an uninterruptible masterpiece. It was my first experience at the Movie Tavern in Collegeville, PA, a theater where you are served food and drinks in your seat while watching the movie. It’s a novel experience that I point out because of the price tag associated with doing so; between the movie tickets, dinner for two, and drinks, I spent almost $100, which would have been acceptable if I didn’t have to deal with annoying teenagers sitting a few rows back, yelling quotes from the original at the screen and pointing out obvious plot similarities for the rest of the audience. It completely ruined the movie for me and others, I’m sure. The theater employees did absolutely nothing about it.
In an effort to allow people to be more connected or to simply just avoid confrontation, theater operators seem to have let people do whatever the hell they want at the theater, leaving the patrons to regulate behavior. That’s not my job as an audience member, nor is it particularly safe to yell at random strangers in a dark room, not knowing the mental stability of the person on the other end of the confrontation.
Last week, a woman maced a man for asking her to silence her cell phone at a movie theater. Let me say that again. She used a self-defense weapon to respond to a man who was politely reminding her of conduct she should have been practicing in the first place, not on a dark street, but at a movie theater.
This is the world we live in, and especially as ticket prices increase, I’m more likely to shrug my shoulders, even for my most anticipated movies, and say, “I’ll wait for Redbox”. If I have to pay money to sour of multiple movies that I might have enjoyed otherwise just for the chance that I get a rare, 8 Mile type of experience, I’ll pass.
In short: Be quiet and courteous to your fellow audience members and we’ll all be a lot happier.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way, but have friends that enjoy providing commentary during movies… are you one of them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!