Saturday, September 10, 2011

Please Silence your Phones, and your Mouths

I’m sure it’s all happened to us.  You finally find some spare time to take in a movie.  You check your local listings, find someone to go with, arrive at the theater, empty half of your savings account for two tickets, locate the theater playing your film, seek out two seats, nestle into them and prepare yourself to enjoy roughly two hours of uninterrupted entertainment. 

Wait; did I just say the word ‘uninterrupted’?  It appears that I did.  I’m sorry, I was referring to life in an ideal world.  A movie world that just doesn’t exist unless you’re rich and have managed to build your own in-home theater.  A film sanctuary that you can retreat to when the burdens of actual life have become too much to bear.  A place where there are no ticket lines, concession stands, sticky floors and gum-stained seats.  Where the lead-usher is none other than yourself and you reserve the right to remove anyone you damn well please because, simply put, you can…and oh, you will.

But my friends, this place does not exist for us normal folk.  Those of us who have to find our way to the theater when a movie we want to see is released.  We try to abandon our everyday lives in order to lose ourselves in a fictional, or sometimes non-fictional, story for a temporary period of time.  After this time has elapsed, we can return to our normal lives recharged until we again feel the need to re-visit that place we call the Movie House.

Now back to my previous statement regarding that special word ‘uninterrupted’.  You don’t really realize how distinctive of a word it is until you can no longer experience it.  I have to come to the conclusion that being able to actually go to the movies and watch one in quiet is a privilege that we take for granted.  Let’s remember that nothing likes to be taken for granted, especially not privileges.  That’s we wind up losing them.  Freedom was a pretty cool privilege to have, then for many groups of people throughout history, it disappeared.  Freedom still gets taken away today.  It happens every time a man gets married.

Whenever you enter a movie theater and sit in those sometimes comfortable seats that recline (I like to put my feet up on the chair in front of me), you run the risk of losing that privilege of quiet.  You would think that during something that requires quiet, such as a movie, that privilege would go without saying.  You would be drastically mistaken my friend.  If you would be so kind, lend your very intelligent ears to a little example:

I recently attended a showing of the anticipated horror film, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.  Being a pro-horror movie person myself I was quite looking forward to seeing it.  Guy Pearce, Katie Holmes and rising actress Bailee Madison starred in the movie which turned out to be kind of sub-par.  Now I say that because it became difficult to judge the film with people chatting all throughout it.  I use the term ‘chatting’ very loosely.  It was more like a mini-convention in there.  I wasn’t sure if I was at movie or a conference for people who like to talk through movies.

Now I realize it was a scary movie.  People usually jump and scream and yell at some point during it.  That’s fine; I’ve come to terms with myself that those things will happen.  It only means that those scenes during the film were successful in what they were created to do.  But there’s a rather broad line between screaming because you were startled and having a full blown conversation through the entire film.  If you wanted to talk while watching a movie, that’s what they created DVD’s and DVD players for.  Not good enough?  That’s cool.  There are other options like Netflix, On Demand and all of the premium movie channels on cable and satellite providers.  Before them were VCR’s and laser discs.  All so you can view whatever the hell you want from the comfort of your own talking filled home.

Continuing on with my description of the lack of peace and quiet during this specific movie, there was an entire row of folks behind me who found something funny about every scene.  Either that or one of them were an aspiring comedian and decided to try out their material while I was trying to watch a movie.  Either one is unacceptable in my book.  Sorry.  We aren’t watching a comedy, it’s a scary movie for goodness sakes.  Yes, some horror films are at that significant level of cheese that makes them funny and quite good to laugh at.  But again, you’re not at home, you’re in a theater with other people who have paid their hard earned $11.25-plus for tickets to watch a movie and not be a part of Chatter Fest 2011. 

In addition to these talk show hosts in the making, a couple sitting directly behind me spoke in perfect volume about everything they did earlier in the day to their aspiring life plans, all while the movie was playing.  I’ll put it like this; the movie is 99 minutes long.  They spoke for 115 minutes.  Yup, that includes the damn previews.  I ask one simple question to people like these…why?  Why?  Why would you do that?  Why would you mess up a perfectly good movie, even if it turns out to be bad, for others who honestly want to watch it?  It is because of pretend-movie-participants like these that I can’t honestly tell you if I enjoyed the movie or not. My overall film-going experience was tainted by their incessant speaking.  At one point, I felt I may have had to restrain my date, who was getting that look in her eye, from leaving her seat and proceeding to let everyone know just how much she didn’t appreciate all of their conversation. 

By the movies end, I felt like something had been stolen from me.  I felt robbed of my time in the theater.  Time that I have always held as being special.  I’m sure other film lovers can attest that the period that takes place in between the opening and closing credits is a long moment where you want to be entertained and try to enjoy yourself as much as possible.  It’s something that you feel you cannot get back, because watching a DVD at home (no matter how impressive your surround sound is) isn’t always the same as ‘feeling’ it while in the theater.  Sound corny?  Yeah, I agree, it’s a little corny, but it’s how I feel about film.  To have that feeling tarnished by those who don’t care the same way is literally like taking money out of my pocket, especially with the mega prices that theaters charge nowadays. 

So let’s re-cap shall we?  Some films are good to have vocal reactions from.  Comedies make us actually LOL.  Horrors make us jump and are much welcomed when your girl clutches your arm and moves closer to you.  Romances make some people cry and let out a few of those rather annoying “Awwwwwww’s” (rolling my eyes).  Even some thrillers will make us talk to our movie-partners or even to our own minds when the story takes that unexpected twist.  But none of them, I repeat, none of them, not even one causes you to have a full blown conversation with the person sitting next to you and definitely not with yourself at any point.  So do everyone who actually came to see the movie a tremendous favor and introduce your upper lip to your bottom one and shut the F**k up!  Thank you.


Anonymous said...

The lost are of civility has been countered by the progressive science of entitlement...