So it’s been a while since any of us here at For A Few Movies More has vented our rage in a Pet Hates article. I guess we just got all of our anger out of our system early on. But after months of calm and quiet, I’m going to have to be the one to once again to break the peace. For there has been an alarming menace that has been sweeping my outings to the cinema as of late. It’s a trend that’s capable of ruining an entire theatrical experience in a single blow, a plague that we’ve all been victim of at some point of time, an annoyance that must be stopped! This hazard I speak of goes by many names, some of which I cannot speak for I know not the language of the Devil, but amongst us film lovers they are only known as… discourteous cinema patrons.
Now I have a confession to get off my chest before we continue. I, your humble narrator, was once a discourteous cinema patron. I know, I know it’s hard to believe, but please allow me this opportunity to repent my sins. Even during my teenage years I was a regular visitor to my local cinema complex. However unlike now where after years of hard work I’ve been awarded the privilege of being able to attend screenings free of charge, back then I had to shell out my hard-earned dollars to catch the latest must-see films on the big screen. Or if I was feeling particularly daring, I would simply sneak into the cinema without paying. A sneaky and frankly uncharacteristic deed that on one particular occasion left a couple of paying customers without a seats in a sold-out session. I know, I’m a terrible person. However considering that the film which I bypassed the ticket box to get into was Jackie Chan’s The Tuxedo, you could say that I quickly received my deserved punishment.
But paying customer or not, the cinema was my home. I wasn’t old enough to drink at the time and I wasn’t exactly an adventurous kid, so it was a movie nerd’s life for me. So with such a high level of adoration shown for the cinema, you would think I would be a considerate and well-mannered patron, but in fact the truth is quite the opposite. I wasn’t outright rowdy, but along with my closest friends, we would mock the film in front of us relentlessly, even if it didn’t deserve it. This is a common practise behind closed doors with a DVD on a Friday night, but in a public environment, it’s just downright rude. Anybody within a close radius would have to grate their teeth and put up with our immature hijinks, until at last a violent ‘SHUT UP’ would be projected towards us from some dark corner. So between sneaking into sessions, depriving people of seats they paid for and generally causing a ruckus, I’d say my younger self was a pain in the ass moviegoer that my current self wouldn’t have been able to tolerate for a single second.
However as time went by I realised the errors of my ways. And much in the same way that Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven settled down and became a decent human being years after murdering women and children, I stopped ruining movies for everyone around me. That’s a fair comparison right? I transformed into a polite and focused viewer, quiet as a church mouse and conscious of those around me. However so extreme was this metamorphose that I eventually developed an obscenely high viewing standard that each cinema experience had to match. If there was even the hint of an audio problem or if the image was even a tad out of focus, you could bet that someone was going to here about it. And if the film was scratched (this was in the time of 35mm remember), forget about it. I’d go catch the film at a different cinema. But while I can now put up with a slight hiss in the speakers and I can tolerate a picture that’s a touch fuzzy, there’s one factor I simply will not endure; disruptive cinema patrons.
Whether it’s chatting teenagers or some dope using their bright phone in the dim haze of the cinema, I simply can no longer stomach rude behaviour in the cinema. It’s bad enough that movie tickets are obscenely expensive, even more so when you add on the surcharge that comes with seeing a film in 3D or on a larger screen (such as V-Max or IMAX), but when you take into account that some families are so busy that their cinema trips are planned weeks in advance, it’s simply not fair for some group of little dipshits sitting down the front of the cinema to be giggling, jumping around and yelling things out at the top of their voices. I’m sure we’ve all witnessed this kind of behaviour during a screening at some point and speaking personally, it’s enough to make my blood boil. These obnoxious, absentminded viewers clearly don’t care about what’s happening on the screen in front of them and would much rather engage in loud conversation, but unfortunately it’s the rest of the theatre that has to suffer and put up with the unnecessary distraction. Also just for the record, anyone who pays over twenty dollars to be able to sit in a dark room and talk to their friends is a moron in my books.
Such annoying behaviour can often be diffused with a stern “Shhh” or an irritated glance, however such reactionary behaviour doesn’t always work. Plus no two irritating cinema patrons are exactly the same. For example, years ago when I was just a young gun, I went to a screening of the Flight Of The Phoenix remake. Not a great film to begin with, but my viewing experience was made only more frustrating by a patron a row or two behind me who took it upon himself to narrate the entire film. So if a character was shot, you could bet that you would hear an unidentified voice murmur ‘He just shot that guy,’ seconds later. I’ll admit that I’m not the most confrontational individual, so I did nothing to stop this irritating running commentary, but at least the owner of this voice meant no harm. The same can’t be said for the teenage patron who decided to spark up his Zippo lighter continuously during a screening of Buried I attended. And more recently at a session of Ted, a girl sitting next to me decided it was as good as time as any to go onto Facebook and send some messages. Arrgh! Once again, Mr non-confrontational over here, so all I could muster was a few angry glances that went from her phone to her face. It did the trick, for a little while at least…
I know I’m getting dangerously close to sounding like a cranky old man (again), but the cinema is my home, and the last thing I’m going to put up with is a group of obnoxious airheads storming my home and not obeying the house rules. They’re not hard to follow and I don’t really think they’re too unreasonable either. Read them, learn them and obey them:
Rule #1) Sit there and watch the film in silence.
Rule #2) If you want to use your phone during the film in any capacity, DON’T! The bright light it produces will drive everyone around you insane.
Rule #3) If you absolutely, positively need to say something to the person sitting next to you, whisper and be quick.
And that’s it! They’re the three basic rules you need to follow to ensure you don’t ruin a cinema experience for any other paying customers who just want to escape the tiring reality of the real world for a couple of short hours. So in closing, be kind to your fellow cinema patron and they’ll be kind back to you. And if you do happen to find yourself near a group of snickering teenagers, teach them a lesson by telling them to shut the hell up. Chances are, they will.
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