Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dave's Decorum: Rules for the Movie Going Public - Part 1: Shhhhhh (by Dave Machado)

2010 has seen a resurgence in my love of going to the movies. For a multitude of reasons (cheap,busy,lazy) I had stopped going to the movies on a regular basis and instead decided that unless it looked like I was going to love the movie, I could just wait for the DVD to come out. But of all the excuses I was coming up with, the one thing that annoyed me the most about seeing a movie in the theater was how one ignorant person could ruin the whole movie experience for me. It seems people have either forgotten or never fully learned how to behave in public, let alone in a movie theater. 

Watching a movie is a lot like experiencing an illusion. You get sucked into a story you know is (usually) not real but it doesn't matter because the power of cinema has taken over. But all it takes is one small distraction from another patron in the theater to cause that illusion to break and bring you back to reality. Depending on the movie, this illusion may be hard to get back into, thus ruining the movie for you. I am paying money to see a movie and not listen to/see anyone else. So in the hopes of saving people from this type of nonsense, I will be creating a list of rules that we all must follow from now on. This will be a continuing series as we focus on one important issue at a time. So without further ado, I present the first of Dave's Movie Etiquette Rules:

1) Shut Up.  This one should be simple enough. Once a movie starts, shut your mouth. I'm not saying you can't laugh or make the occasional uncontrollable exclamation or cheer, but don't make full thoughts come out of your mouth. There are three groups of people that I am speaking to here so I would like to address them both individually:

  • Talking to the Screen: What compels people to talk to the screen. This is typically seen when horror and action movies are playing and a character is in danger and some idiot gets so worked up he begins telling the character what they should do. I'm all for getting caught up in the moment, but please keep some level of control and keep your inner thoughts inside your head. Everyone else seems to be doing just fine with that.
  • Cracking Jokes: Oh great, a fan of MST3K is in the crowd. The worst thing about this is that in all the times I've experienced a movie with one of these people, they have never said anything that is remotely funny. I'm not sure what makes them think otherwise but it's pretty damn annoying. If you think you are that funny, keep the commentary to video blogs and private screenings with friends. Please don't make me pay to listen to your lame jokes.
  • The Questioner: I've saved my least favorite for last. This is the person who is constantly asking questions about the plot of the movie to the person they are with. I'm not sure why these people even go to the movies if they can't understand basic storytelling. I understand that some movies are confusing but guess what, if you shut up and follow along, you'll eventually get it. If you have a hard time concentrating and your mind drifts, then that is your problem and you should be forced to silently sit in your dumb, confused state. Here is a novel idea, how about waiting for the movie to end and then talk about what you didn't understand with the person you are with. That is, unless you can't even remember what questions to ask because your memory is so poor. In that case, stay home and watch QVC.
These are typically the most most common offenders of this rule. I've actually seen an old man even answer a cell phone and proceed to talk over the movie! I tried to give him this sad made up back-story of how he is a widower whose only child has moved away and started a new family. Most of his friends have died or moved as well so he doesn't have much of a social life anymore. In order to help him get out more, he likes to go see movies. However, on this occasion, his one son called during the movie and he was so delighted that he could hear the voice of someone he loves that he picked up the phone. I have a weakness of creating elaborate stories to make excuses for the actions of strangers. Luckily, another woman in the theater didn't share this hobby as she began screaming at him to get off the phone. 

This brings up the other side of the argument about talking in theaters, how do you deal with the offenders. I myself am far too passive to tell someone to shut up so I will simply glare at them from the corner of my eye (and complain on a blog they don't know exists). I think instead of needing to provoke them in the theater, we need to simply raise awareness on this issue so everyone knows just how moronically rude it really is. I wouldn't be opposed to wearing ribbons to support this cause.

How do you deal with talking in a movie theater? Does it bother you as much as it bothers me? Let me know because I'd be happy to hear from someone else on this issue. Maybe you have a bigger pet peeve instead? Share that too so we can discuss it in a later post. I have a few other rules I'll be posting in the coming days but I'm sure there are some I missed or some things that may not annoy me as much as it annoys others. This is a shared like of rules so please contribute! Lastly, please keep in mind I am simply talking about when you see a movie in the theater. I couldn't care less what you are doing when watching something at home alone or with friends. It's time we take back the movie theater for the people who actually know how to behave in public!

You're Welcome,

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