Talking and texting at the movies — a battle lost?

Posts like this one, on Gawker, make my head hurt. “Which is worse, talkers or ‘shushers’ at the movies?”

What, now it’s the people who want to watch the MOVIE who are the “a–holes”? Really?

It’s like re-opening the global warming debate. With somebody who wants to pollute to his heart’s content, without a care to how the rest of the world feels about it.

It all started with this Hunter Walk “think piece” about ways theaters should reach out to short-attention span types like himself. Lights on in theaters, free wi-fi.

Hunter Walk is what happens when, well, I’d like to say “When cousins marry” but I’ll just leave it at “not raised to consider the rest of the human race” when some impulsive/compulsive need of his arises.

Anil Dash followed up with more of the same.

Let me see if I can speak for the “shushers,” the reluctant folks who can only endure so much of your boorishness, your faux clever commentary on what is happening on the screen, your inability to concentrate on anything for an hour and a half.

The movies aren’t a “monastic” experience, but going is akin to dropping in to church. Where texting, chatting, and generally putting MY impulses ahead of YOUR need to experience something larger than you is frowned upon.

We go to the movies — most of us, anyway — to lose ourselves in the story and world on the screen. The screen is larger than us, dominates us and sucks us in. If you’re 14 and watch most of your movies on an iPad, you don’t get it and maybe never will. So that’s why I’m laying out that as a basic concept.

It ruins the $14 experience for everybody if you insist on lighting up the theater with your own mini screen several times during the showing. It spoils the movie — not every movie, but any movie that doesn’t involve Vin Diesel or Guillermo del Toro — to carry on an audible, rude, running commentary that you and your often doltish friends think is clever.

As a few commentors on the Gawker post note, this is aggressive behavior and unless one wants to fume or let your aggression stand, you’re going to be shushed.

If your parents never taught you manners, that you are not the center of the universe and that you’re not that damned clever, then somebody needs to alert you to these facts. Briefly. As politely as possible.

The fact that so many rude people FLIP OUT when they’re shushed tells you loads. They realize they’re being rude and hate being called on it. That fits right into the aggression thing.

Maybe cinema drafthouses/restaurants would be the right place for his “multi-tasking” movie viewing. Until that happy day, leave your phone off, keep your comments to a minimum and if you need to have a conversation, wait to watch the movie on your phone. Small screens suit small minds.

But a rule of thumb for Hunter Walk and others who haven’t quite caught on? Most people with any manners at all recognize that the world is a lot more civil when we live by that old Will Rogers maxim — “Your right to swing your arms stops just short of my nose.”

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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3 Responses to Talking and texting at the movies — a battle lost?

  1. Gay Lynn says:

    Preach it brother.

  2. doombuggy says:

    Good rant.

    I was wondering about etiquette when the lights come up: after one movie a companion and I were bantering about how bad the thing was within earshot of others. Maybe we should have held our tongues until the coffee shop.

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