Seeing Movies in a Theater Has Become Almost Impossible

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As excited as I am to see Avatar this coming Sunday – I already bought my ticket for IMAX 3D, ‘cuz I’m a nerd like that – there’s a part of me that’s dreading the experience.  Going to the movies used to always be an enjoyable escape for me, but these days I find myself more selective about which theater I want to go to than I am about the actual movie I’m going to see.  The reason has nothing to do with theater location, screen size, or sound.  No, those are all secondary considerations.  Frankly, I try to find a time and a theater in which the least amount of inconsiderate people will be present, and I find that this task gets harder and harder every day.  I’m sure I’m not alone on this, and this is perhaps long overdue – but inconsiderate people have made it nearly impossible to fully enjoy a movie in the theater.

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Maybe I’m becoming more crotchety as I get older, but I really can’t remember so many rude and obnoxious people going to the movie theater when I was younger.  Hell, even when I was in high school and law school, it was rarely a problem.  Now, though, it seems as if there’s no escape.

I saw Drag Me to Hell in Times Square a couple weeks after it was released.  I’ll never see a movie in Times Square again.  I tried my best to focus on the movie and enjoy it, but several groups of people were talking throughout the entire movie.  Not certain individuals, but groups scattered throughout the theater.  Conversations were taking place in front of me and behind me, and people weren’t whispering, either.  Nope, they were talking as if they were on the street without a care in the world.  Once someone in the back started yelling out every time there was a suspenseful scene, I went into the theater’s lobby and asked for my money back.

When Paranormal Activity rolled around, I went during an afternoon to see it at the Kips Bay theater in Manhattan.  Once again, talking and shouting persisted throughout, except this time, it was from a couple of kids sitting with their mother.  The mother did absolutely nothing to discipline her children, and when one member of the audience – who must have been as annoyed as I was – asked the kids to be quiet, he was greeted with vulgarities and laughter.  The mother, of course, did nothing.  Another movie ruined, thanks to inconsideration on the part of my fellow movie-goers.

Kips Bay was always one of the “safest” places to see a movie, but now I really don’t have any safe places left.  Every time I go to see a movie, I have to anticipate that it’ll be ruined by other people.  Whispering here and there is fine, but full-on, normal-voiced conversations throughout the movie?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  At this point, an expectation of silence is completely unrealistic.

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This isn’t cool, either.  At all.

Of course, it goes far beyond talking, too.  I don’t care if it doesn’t make any noise, texting during movies is not OK.  Can you really not be away from your phone for two hours without reading or sending messages to someone?  Every time someone sends or receives a text, the bright white screen on his or her cell phone distracts everyone else in the theater.  I don’t need to see a movie in perfect, serene conditions, but little white lights flashing up all over the theater during a movie is incredibly distracting.  Wait until the movie’s over, texters.

Of course, there are people who decide to answer their ringing phones and speak to the person on the other end during a movie, so maybe I should just be thankful that the texters aren’t talking.

But instead of just bitching and whining about how horrible people behave in movie theaters (and I have a lot more anecdotes, but I’ll spare you), I’ve actually come up with a decent solution.  I know that many people – maybe some of you – are not like me and don’t think that a movie theater is a place for silence and discipline.  You’re inconsiderate and you’re wrong, but I also know that you’re not going to stop acting like assholes.  That’s fine – you can keep going to the movie theater and bothering people around you with your boorish behavior.  For the more considerate people like myself, well, I propose that some theaters (either new or existing) require adherence to a few basic rules, and failure to abide by those rules results in removal from the theater.

It’s really quite simple.  I’d like a couple of ushers (or bouncers, whichever you prefer) to stand in the back of the theater.  If someone uses their cell phone in any way – for a text or to make or receive a call – or if their phone rings, the usher simply walks over to the person and tells them to turn off or silence their phone.  If it happens again, the person is removed from the theater.  The same thing goes for talking.  You’re warned once, and if you still can’t control yourself, you’re removed.

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Excuse me.  You’re going to have to leave for being a selfish bitch.

I’d think that people who want to make noise in theaters will avoid seeing movies where rules prevent them from doing so.  And people like me, who like to enjoy their movies in uninterrupted silence, will flock in droves to these new theaters.  In fact, I’d be more than happy to shell out a few extra bucks to see a movie if it meant that any jerk would be removed for being inconsiderate.  More than happy, really.  Ecstatic.

I know that people generally suck and don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves, so expecting this trend of inconsiderate people in movie theaters to die down is simply wishful thinking.  It’s only going to get worse.  As I see it, there are two ways to deal with the problem: either stop going to the movies (which I don’t really consider an option), or have some theaters start punishing people who ruin an otherwise enjoyable experience for everyone else.

Or I may just bring a pistol to Avatar and open fire on the first moron whose phone goes off.