Wednesday, April 25, 2012

IF YOU TEXT IN THE THEATER, YOU'RE A DICK.

The glow of my nightmares...
Cell phones astonish me.  I'm proud to admit that I'm one of the last of a generation that didn't always have cell phones in the way that we have now.  Despite popular belief, I was alive for the Patrick Bateman cell phone and I definitely remember the super hero strength of Nokias and Nextels.  Unfortunately, I'm still young enough to be lumped in with a generation that would be absolutely clueless without a cell phone.  I'll be honest, the only phone numbers I have memorized are the ones I needed to have memorized in case the babysitter my mom hired for the night was psychotic. It's no surprise that cell phones, and more specifically, smart phones, are an incredible asset to society and our technological advances.  Unfortunately, we have become a little more than dependent on our all powerful cellphones and it's been intervening with aspects of our life where texting/googling/facebooking/tweeting/tumbling/angrybirding isn't acceptable. 

Many of you know that I'm an acting major at my University, but I also work as a House Manager for many of our productions and am one of the go-to people for delivering the friendly (yet threatening) curtain speeches to ask audience members not to text during the performance.  It's to be expected that in a collegiate environment there would be issues with students not following the rules but last year, the texting issue turned into an epidemic to the point where many professors are failing students taking theatre classes if they are caught texting during a performance.  I'm dead serious.  Just on my own watch, I've removed (and subsequently failed) over 20 students in the last year.  I just want to know, WHY AREN'T USHERS IN MOVIE THEATERS DOING THE SAME?! Honestly.  Do your fucking job.  I haven't been to a movie theater in the better half of a decade where I actually saw an usher do more than grab a ticket stub and open the door when it was over.  This lack of attention has given audiences this sense of freedom because there's no one telling them they're wrong.  Audiences are left to fend for themselves and if anyone has witnessed a scuffle between audience members, it becomes a giant fight on the internet.  Name calling, slurs, and Lord of the Flies-esque conflicts occur...and unless someone gets off of their ass to complain to the usher sitting outside the theater, nothing happens.  That's another thing, why the hell are people getting so defensive when asked to put your phone away?  If there were actual ushers/house managers enforcing the rules of keeping the cell phones in your pockets and your hands out of your partners, I think going to the movies would be far more enjoyable for everyone.

"Excuse me, you're rude...and who the hell still uses phones like that?"
IMAX’s CEO Greg Foster told Deadline that he seemed to like the idea of relaxing the absolute ban on phone use in theaters. He stated that his 17 year old son “constantly has his phone with him,” he says. “We want them to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence.” Banning cell phone use may make them “feel a little handcuffed.” I'm sorry, but exactly what in the hell are you on?  You may be the CEO of IMAX, but do you actually sit in the theaters and watch how your audiences interact?  They're not NOT going to the movies because they can't text, they're not going because it's too damn expensive.  I can buy a fifth of Vodka and watch Netflix and eat whatever I want and lay slovishly on the couch for the same price as going to a movie these days.  A commenter on the deadline page wrote: " In 1962, a kid could buy a ticket for a matinee for $0.35. In today’s dollars, that same ticket would be $2.63. Only it’s not. It’s $10-$13. Do you know what $10 today would have been in 1962? It would have been $75.76 

Greg Foster is only promoting this idea because he wants a thicker pocket, not because he actually cares about the status of the theater.  If he did, he'd understand that texting in the theater is abysmal and we should be teaching these ungrateful little snots some manners instead of catering to their poor behavior. Another issue I have with Foster's statement is But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence.” Controlling your existence?!  You live at home, your parents make your food, and you're not even paying the god damn bill for the miniature computer sitting in your palm riddled with improper uses of the word 'you're' and nudes of your underage ex girlfriend.  I hate to break it to you, kid, but sometimes you have to play by other people’s rules.  What is so god damn important that you feel it necessary to be using your phone?  Movies are supposed to be an escape from reality, and people are deeming it acceptable to keep dragging it right back in.   It honestly makes me sick to know that instead of holding these brats accountable for their actions, there are big wigs in the movie industry that would rather roll over and continue on giving these kids a false sense of entitlement.  Keep it on up, Hollywood.  You're just helping Maury Povich further his career with your constant enabling.

Proper punishment for texting in the theater.
I don't know about you, but I think movie theaters should spend less time focusing on getting the unappreciative douchers into the theatre and instead concentrate on those that will actually enjoy the theater experience.  Sell alcohol in the theaters for 21+ showings, offer kettlecorn, lower the prices of movie candy so we'll stop smuggling in our own in our bras and instead buy yours, clean the god damn floors once in a while, and stop reserving more than one screen for a film just because Adam Sandler is in it.  Seriously, I couldn't see DRIVE in theaters because the one closest to me thought that Jack & Jill was a better option.  The biggest problem of the movie theater experience these days has less to do with the audience and more to do with the theater staff themselves.  I hate to say it, but you've created your own monsters.  Do your part and tame the beast yourselves.  

Also: God Bless The Alamo Drafthouse.

15 comment(s):

Chris said...

Hear hear, BJ-C! I agree with absolutely everything you said (especially the kettlecorn suggestion... mmmm). I don't understand people with phones going to theaters in the first place. Why pay money to twitter/text/facebook/whatever when you can do so at home or in a public place and not bother anyone who want to watch a film in peace?

My solution to stop this (because, as you said, ushers have become useless)? Those who choose to use a phone must pay the ticket price of every non-phone using patron in the theater they enter. That way, I'm not out my money because of some douche who'd rather post a play by play of what they did since this morning than watch the movie. If shaming rude phone users during a film/performance doesn't get them to stop, then hit 'em in the wallet.

Chris

Phantom of Pulp said...

Could not agree more.

If you need to text and surf constantly in a movie theater, why the fuck are you even in a movie theater? Or is a movie theater just a place to plonk your entitled ass for an afternoon or evening?

People who do this are stinking up the moviegoing experience, and the fact that the IMAX CEO sees stopping his shithead son's cell phone usage in theaters as being equivalent to handcuffing the spoiled wretch speaks volumes about a parenting culture that is creating selfish, ignorant monsters.

Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out... because the ushers surely won't.

Chris Koterba said...

This is an outstanding article. I have a similar problem when I'm playing at Coffee Houses and people sit right in front of you and then attempt to talk over your performance!!. Also, I shared this on my Facebook page and started a minor war between friends. I'm at nearly 40 comments! You Rock!

A.R. Lyons said...

The CEO's comments enrage me. Your son feels "a little handcuffed" because he can't text for two hours? Way to live up to the clueless, overly-indulgent, parent stereotype.

This is why I hate going to the movies. Cell phones going off, texting, two year olds at R-rated flicks etc. What's worse is that these people feel like they have a right to do these things. It's all about them, and everyone else can go to hell.

(I guess I should start knitting sweaters and telling children to get off my lawn)

Kaijinu said...

I can't help but nod in agreement with you. haha.

the next worse thing to come in a theater, next to loud kids.

Chris T. said...

I agree with you but sometimes when you get important SMS you can't ignore it.

Phantom of Pulp said...

Chris -- an "important" SMS? How important can it really be? If you have your phone off, you wouldn't get the SMS. And if you do get it, the civilized thing is to leave the theater to check it and respond to it. Otherwise -- you're rationalizing rudeness. Seriously, if being in constant contact with EVERYBODY is so important, moviegoing is not for you. You're better off staying at home staring at the phone screen waiting for your next "important" message.

Horsemachine said...

Chris T. - please give us a real-life example of an SMS that's so important that it can't wait for a couple of hours.

Ideally, one that's so important that you just HAVE to reply to it there and then, even at the risk of pissing off everyone around you.

BJ-C said...

I have to agree, if the SMS is that important...leave the theater. No one else around you will understand that it's something more important than "OMG, WANNA GET DRUNK TONIGHT?!"

In this situation, you need to understand that unless you plan on standing in front of the entire theater to apologize for your important text...everyone is just going to assume you're a dick.

Phantom of Pulp said...

The funny and sad thing about this discussion is that it's like explaining to children why they shouldn't throw their food at others. Adults should simply understand. Unfortunately, a large percentage of human beings are children in adult shells. We mistakenly treat them as "adults" and expect "adult" behavior from them because they're tall, some have facial hair, and some wear bras. Clearly, it's a disguise :-)

Jules said...

There is a theater that's set up just like you described! Its called Alamo Drafthouse. There are a few of them in Texas (Austin & Houston). And one in Virginia. Hopefully the franchise will continue to spread.

You can get reasonably priced candy, snacks, food, & even alcoholic beverages! The alamo drafthouse shows A variety of movies, many of which are independent. And one of my fav things about the drafthouse, they have a strict "no talking, texting" during the movie or "we will throw your ass out" policy! They even show a warning before each movie.

Spike Ghost said...

Praise the Alamo Drafthouse, i often hear about it and it seems awesome.

sewa elf said...

Very nice, thanks for the article.

LJRich said...

All part of the reason I haven't been to the theater since Men in Black II. No kidding. I can't stand sharing my experience with people, today.

"and you're not even paying the god damn bill for the miniature computer sitting in your palm riddled with improper uses of the word 'you're' and nudes of your underage ex girlfriend."

This is why I read you, by the way.:) Well, this and the fact that you have a good head for cinema.;)

Marie Robinson said...

I hear you, girl. I am an usher at a theatre and trust me I am doing the best I can to end this plague of disrespect. People just don't get why it is such a problem to text during a movie, but I am one of those people who can't stand distractions during films, be it talking, or the clicking of little keys, or the glow of a tiny screen.

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