Monday, February 16, 2009

The New Theater Plague

I go to the movies a lot, but I'm enjoying the experience less and less.

That's because a new plague has invaded movie theaters, and nobody's doing anything about it.

It's ruining the experience.

It's creating a level of anxiety in me that is not diminishing with repetition.

It's as nasty as incessant chatting, but it's deceptively non-intrusive to the ears.

Have you encountered it?

It begins when the lights go down and the movie begins.

White squares of bright light begin appearing in the darkness. They tilt and twist, blink on and off, then re-appear again moments later.

Sometimes, these bright, glaring squares are passed from person to person, like the internet age version of a joint on a roach clip.

Has anybody ever shone a flashlight in your face?

Well, this is the equivalent of swarms of flashlights coming at you with the impact of an Irwin Allen disaster movie.

There was a time when your attention was cleverly directed to the movie screen by the lack of light around it.

Nothing interrupted the darkness.

Nothing appeared in your periphery.

These glowing, pulsing squares of light can appear next to you, or way down the front of the theater, just beneath the screen.

You find yourself sitting back and raising your knee to block them.

Or you rest your face on your hand to stop them blinking at you from the side.

Why the psychologically disturbed carriers of these white squares choose to kneel at the altar of their light-pulsing machines while simultaneously watching (and paying for) a movie is a mystery to me.

What isn't a mystery is why these people should die agonizing deaths.

They are selfishly indifferent to the non-light carriers around them, and when they are asked to put their lights away, they mumble and become agitated. Ten minutes later, these throwbacks light up again, pathetic slaves to their metal machines and the primitive need to have their puerile egos validated by equally puerile messages.

I am calling for the outright banning of active cell phones in movie theaters.

There is no reason for someone to be using their cell phone while a movie is in progress.

If you need to make a call or check the time or see if one of your loser friends has sent you another silly, inconsequential text or email, go outside and do it there. And while you're at it, kill yourself!

Nobody wants your white, pulsing personality replacement box messing up their movie experience.

Even better, stay home and masturbate with your beloved phone, you pathetic, miserable fucks.

Am I being unreasonable?


  1. I am *so* with you Phantom. In fact the murderous rage boils to the surface when it happens. Do I have a cell phone? Yes, reluctantly so, but I turn it off the moment I find my beloved seat. Why? Well, it has no purpose being on because I am going to a movie. Interruptions are annoying and take me out of the theatre experience. And two, its bloody rude.

    I have a problem with cell phones in general. They've made people rude (I work in sales and nothing pisses me off more than someone chatting through the entire checkout experience. Seriously? You cant put down your phone for 60 frakking seconds?) and irresponsible (maybe if you werent busy chatting on your cell phone you would have noticed that everyone else was stopped at the stoplight and wouldnt have rear ended me with your SUV).

    The majority of offenders seem to be that tween - 20's range, but they are generation that already think they are entitled to everything and are allowed to do anything. Egads, somewhere down the line I grew up. Damn adulthood.

  2. You are not being unreasonable Phantom - I wholeheartedly agree!

  3. You make hard, honest points, SR.

    "Bloody rude" is at the core of the problem.

    The "entitled" generation are the worst offenders, and the reason they believe they can do anything, is because they're educated by parents and teachers to believe that there is no right or wrong, no winners or losers, no ugly or pretty; there is just participation, and everybody is equal. It's utter crap, and what it's creating are faux humans.

    Bonebreaker, for the first time in my life, someone has told me that I'm not being unreasonable. I must buy myself a birthday cake -- or pizza.

  4. I have to agree with you. I don't understand it: why bother seeing a film when you really don't want to watch it? I use my cell phone to text message, etc, but not during a film. Between these idiots and the parents who take kids to see an R rated film, the theater experience can be made really sour by their rude, incomprehensible behavior.

  5. I whole heartedly agree. Its so fucking annoying. I always turn my phone off. Its a cinematic right of passage. Henceforth I will make it a tenant of Transcendental Fascism to have a Special Cinema Protection Squad (SCPS) whisk any mobile offending cinema patrons or chatterers off to re-eduction camps. A cinema is place of worship, like a church, and if you want to interrupt the worship of the new faith, you can fuck right off...or be assisted in your fucking off

  6. I totally understand what you mean. This and other reasons is why I pretty much quite going to the movies. I just wait until movies hit DVD and get them from Netflix.

  7. Here here! I hate cell phones, both in and out of the theater, and I refuse to own one. I think I may actually be more uptight about the theater experience than you though. In the theater, I get annoyed essentially by ANYTHING that isn't the act of keeping your eyes glued to the screen and your mouth shut. And I actually get angry at people who come in late during the film, or get up halfway through to go to the bathroom. Either get there on time, or don't get there at all. Why the hell would you wanna pay to sit down and watch a movie when you have no friggin' idea how it began? Ugh. Yeah, I'm uptight.

  8. It sounds like we're all in the same boat on this issue -- cell phones and movies don't mix!

    I go to the cinema because I don't want to wait for the DVD of some films. Perhaps I need to "adjust" that desire.

    The SCPS idea has merit.

    Like driving, the cinema experience compels you to deal with the incompetence, rudeness, and cluelessness of others.

    It looks like we're going to suffer together.

  9. Or you could start up a cinema like the "Astor" in Melb, Aust. which actually (last time I was there, which wasn't long ago) actively discourages, and enforces, a kind of pre-war etiquette not only regarding phones, but also the films it screens. I think you remember, Phantom, it has plush red carpet, art deco design, budgies in a cage in the lobby and cats roaming about. Choc ices and Bogart doubles on Sunday, and absolutely, positively NO TECHNOLOGY! It is like stepping back in time. I guess rep houses are to be found in Cali- I think in the "Player" Tim Robbins drives out to Pasadena, where 'Bicycle Thief' is playing (is my memory correct? I am trying to train myself not to jump screens to IMDB but test myself) and I love that little cinema where Chili Palmer is watching 'Touch of Evil', and nudges the guy next to him. There was maybe five people in the audience, and I'll wager none of them had phones.

    Perhaps this is not 'just movies'...maybe such a thing will catch on again, and bring people back to enjoy movies the way my Grandpa told it- like when he watched 'Shane' when it first came out, and it was like the exterior screening in 'Paradiso'- a gentle, sharing, considerate community affair, and not a techno-shock cunt-fest.

    We can dream.

    I am reminded of the time, when 'Evil Angels' first came out, I went to see it at the cinema in Warrnambool (provincial seaside town in western district of Victoria, Australia as you know, Phantom) where a couple were sitting next to me, and gibbering constantly, until I could take no more. I turned to them, and yelled at the top of my lungs, 'WOULD YOU TWO PLEASE FUCK UP AND DIE!!??'

    And they did just that; for the rest of the film, they were mute, and they slinked off before the lights came up. Naturally enough, I have never claimed that I have seen this important film- It was spoilt for me on first viewing, and I have never been able to see it subsequently, as it reminds me of the utter selfishness of some ignorant- dare I call them human beings?

    So I will never know whether it was a dingo, or Meryl Streep that took the baby.

    Do I know what you are talking about, phantom? Yes I do. Do I think you are being unreasonable? No I do not, nor have I ever done. You speak for us all here when you preach it, brother.

    I no longer go to the cinema. Sure, occasionally, I go to a small rep house, and from time to time I watch something like 'Deep Rising' on DVD and think how underappreciated it is, how great it would be to see it repeated on the big screen (I imagine the only true way to see such a trashy-in-a-good-way audacious, 'monster at sea with Treat Williams', 'can't believe it ever got made by a studio' kind of cultish appeal) and wish there was a place that showed these kinds of films- say doubles, one old, one new- with absolutely positively NO technology allowed.

    I can dream, can't I?

    Keep up the good work, Phantom; you tell it like it is. One day someone will go postal on one of these motherfuckers, and the world shall bleat in unison, 'why, oh why!' And we can direct them to your blog, and then shall they know the truth, and then shall they understand.

    We need someone postal like Bukowski at times like this, to make them 'die in screaming pots of shit'.

    It is, indeed, a 'war all the time', is it not?

  10. Why the theater managers don't put a stop to this is beyond me...maybe they don't want to hurt the feelings of these "entitled" could cause far-reaching damage to their tender psyches...

  11. I've seen many films at the Astor. You can smell the respect for movies when you walk through the door. It's a place where the cell is a blunt instrument of blasphemy.

    Are these incessant movie jabbers "human beings"?

    Not really.

    Perhaps we should be forced to earn our "human" stripes. Too many bad ambassadors cheapen the concept.

    Thanks for your generous words, mandingo.

    It is a war.

  12. If anything, Phantom, you are being too reasonable. Anyone caught using a cell phone in a cinema should be severely beaten and jailed (and sodomised) for a year. The only solution I can find to this monstrous, vile practice that is ruining cinema is to go to movies at early sessions during weekdays when there are usually fewer people attending. And 'generation Y'? Don't make me laugh; a bunch of lightweight, arrogant, ignorant pissweak narcissist assholes who should have been collectively aborted. I apologise for understating my case.