Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Boors Among Us

Everybody knows about air marshals, those cops who ride in airplanes, right? I think cinemas should have movie marshals to keep law and order in the theater so a few yokels can’t spoil it for the rest of us. And give them guns. Lots of guns.

Last night, Daughter Number 2 and I went to see The Omen (DN2 thought it would be cool to see it on 6.6.06). As far as I could tell the movie was good — or at least an improvement over the original — but I can’t know for sure because the audience absolutely sucked! Talking on cell phones, inappropriate laughter, wise comments, people sitting on the stairs, a mentally disabled kid a couple of aisles away who simply would not shut up — they all combined to severely detract from the movie-going experience. You could put any film up there — Casablanca, Schindler’s List, anything you want — and it wouldn’t stand a chance. It was that bad.

The crowd was pretty young — the auditorium had the feel of a high school assembly just barely under control. There were a lot of boyfriends showing off how witty they were to their girlfriends. You could hear jokes popping up everywhere — such a shame, really, wasting comedic talent like that on us instead of earning money off their snappy one-liners on the stage. And, toward the front of the theater, there was a large group of guys who laughed at everything they saw — I mean everything. Perhaps it was adolescent bravado, a sort of preemptive act to keep from getting scared, but there wasn’t a single scene they didn’t find hilarious: Julia Stiles crying, little Damien giving someone a spooky look, the look of anguish on the mad priest’s face, it didn’t matter — it all cracked them up. And this is how they laughed: huh! huh! huh! huh! Just like Beavis. Or is it Butthead? Whatever — you know which one I mean.

A friend of mine once told me his line to boorish people who act up at the movies: You can talk for free outside. It’s true, isn’t it? Why pay ten bucks a ticket to chatter and mock, when instead you can invite some friends over your house, toss in a DVD and wax brilliant at no cost to yourself? But perhaps these people want to share their cleverness with the world. Perhaps this is their way of enhancing the film experience for the rest of us. Don’t all movies need commentary? That’s the reason why we pay money to see a movie, isn’t it — to listen to them? It’s their way of both amusing us and setting us straight at the same. Sort of like a public service.

Right.

(sigh)

Getting back to my idea of movie marshals, let’s give them full discretion, really arm them to the teeth. Let’s turn our multiplexes into police states if that’s what it takes. If someone’s cell phone goes off, tackle the bastard, taze him, cuff him and hustle him out of there. In the new order, the slightest joke or inappropriate noise will send a squad of commandos down on your head. I want to see the stairs patrolled constantly by men in black wearing night vision goggles and doing the funky military signing to each other, alert to the faintest infraction. If the audience won’t understand reason, then the only answer left is fear. Movies, after all, are not a right, they’re a privilege.

Now a word to those who bring babies, young children, and kids with issues, such as autism, mental retardation, etc., into movie theaters: when you buy your tickets, I want you to view them as a gamble. I want you to feel unsure if you’ll actually make it all the way through the movie, because the moment your charge acts up and shows no signs of settling down, it is your responsibility to leave the auditorium out of consideration for everyone else. I’m sorry if you don’t get to see the rest of the movie — you took your chance and lost. Better luck next time. But don’t sit there and think it’s all right for your kid make to noise, because it is not all right. You are being selfish and you’re imposing your problem on others.

And for all you audiences out there who insist on acting the way I just described — you’ll be written up in my blog. Consider yourselves warned.

25 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

I say give them blow darts. Anyone acting up gets a needle in the neck, and serves as a drink holder until revived at the end of the show.

6:35 AM  
Blogger LL said...

I haven't seen a show in ages, mostly because of what you just wrote about. If I really want to see something, I never go on opening night anymore, I wait until it's almost gone then hit the late show.

Of course that doesn't always save you. One time I was the only one in the theatre and then a group of chatty high schoolers came in and sat directly in front of me. They had the entire theatre to choose from and took the seats directly in front of me. I kicked the back of their chairs all night long when they'd act up, it was only right.

6:47 AM  
Blogger tiff said...

That's what ushers used to be for, before they got rid of them. I recall being told to get my feet off the chairs and the dreaded flashlight beam in the face if we were acting up. Which was very infrequently, BTW.

Though tasers would work too.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

There is a place in hell for these audiences. It's Dante's 13th ring and it involves repeated viewings of Ishtar, with the occasional commentary by Keanu Reeves.

7:32 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I say give them blow darts. Anyone acting up gets a needle in the neck, and serves as a drink holder until revived at the end of the show."

THAT is an excellent idea, Scott.


"I kicked the back of their chairs all night long when they'd act up, it was only right."

I wish I had that kind of guts. I just say "shhhh!" every once in a while.


"That's what ushers used to be for, before they got rid of them."

Yes! That's how it used to be like back in my day. Boy, everything changed after they introduced the "talkies."


"There is a place in hell for these audiences. It's Dante's 13th ring and it involves repeated viewings of Ishtar, with the occasional commentary by Keanu Reeves."

(shiver) That is harsh. Deserved, but harsh.

7:55 AM  
Blogger Shatterfist said...

These yack-bags act all tough when they're hidden in a dark mass of people, but confront them outside and they turn into whiny, blubbering jellyfish. I wish they'd bring back law and order in the movie theater. It would keep people from saying inappropriate things to chatty black girls who like to yell at the screen.

"Oh no you dih-ent! He nasty!"

Who are you, the narrator?

8:27 AM  
Blogger trinamick said...

Amen, Brother Schprock!

That's one great thing about our small theater. We just go complain to the ticket taker, and he takes care of bidness. He carries a cane, so they either shut up or they'll wish they had.

9:05 AM  
Blogger magnetbabe said...

it is your responsibility to leave the auditorium out of consideration for everyone else

Thank you. I hate that worst of all.

Here in Tampa they have some 21 and up theatres where they serve alcohol too. There aren't any kids, but then you are taking a gamble on drunk people.

9:08 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"'Oh no you dih-ent! He nasty!'

"Who are you, the narrator?"

It took me an hour to stop laughing after that. And now I'll be saying that for the rest of the day.


"Amen, Brother Schprock!"

Maybe you and I can start a movie theatre vigilante group, really take care of bidness.


"Here in Tampa they have some 21 and up theatres where they serve alcohol too. There aren't any kids, but then you are taking a gamble on drunk people."

I'd like to know how that works out. Intriguing.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Hey, maybe blogger's comments are working this time.

I personally *love* the parents who allow their kids to kick my seat through the entire movie. They're so lucky I don't give them a swift backhand. This is why I watch movies at home.

I'm even more passive-aggressive than you, Mr. Schprock. I give them the glare of death out of the side of my face. It gets used a lot at the symphony, too, which is really pathetic. How do people not know they're not supposed to have a conversation during a concert?

I like DN2's style. I contemplated (briefly) driving to Hell, Michigan for the big celebration there yesterday. And according to news reports today, there were religious types there boycotting the festivities and preaching. It is times like that that I wish I had a Satan t-shirt.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

Pardon my posting again, but while considering this entry, I thought of 2 incidents of noisy movie-goers, that stayed with me.

1)I'm about 8 or 9 and E.T. is flying across the sky in Elliot's bike. Magical. Some doorknob behind me cries, "Oh yeah, right! As if!" The rest of the movie was lost on me 'cause kept I thinking it's pretty dumb that the alien thing had you until the bike was flying.

2)Alive. Three guys are searching for a way to get help and come across suitcases in the snow. One of them finds toothpaste and gobbles it up. Someone in the theatre says, "That is so gross." Cannibalism? OK. Colgate? Ick.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Flood said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I could not possibly agree more. My husband said going with me to see a film means two things: he'll be making a popcorn run after the movie starts and he has to run interference. When I love a film, REALLY love a film, my husband will actually go up to crazy teenagers and threaten to remove them physically from the theater if they continue. Yes, he does that and it's two more reasons to love the guy. =)

5:05 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

So far, I have never had any of those problems at the theater. One thing I do is I actually wear ear plugs. The movie is so loud you can still hear everything but I don't hear other people in the audience, or their cell phones. My niece told me one kept going off during X-Men III but I never heard it.
I don't understand people who bring their kids to the movie and then do nothing when they start to cry or fuss!! WTF is that!!
We have ushers at our theater, but they are so tiny! LOL. I can't see them standing up to a rabble rouser of any size... but it would be fun if they did. :)
So, in short, you all should come to NY to see a movie. Hey! I know, how about on June 23rd?! ;)

7:19 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

That kind of atmosphere is exactly why we saw DaVinci Code at a 10:30 pm showing during its second week out. No kids...hell, hardly anyone at all! I think the 5 of us were half the people in the theatre!

9:37 PM  
Blogger Farrago said...

That's just it, Schprock. They paid to get in, so they feel entitled to do whatever they damn well please. There's no logic that'll make these people shut up.

Once, when I was in college, a child -- no...a BABY -- began crying in the middle of a movie I was at. The mother just sat there quietly shushing the obviously agitated infant. It lasted for about a minute until a couple of people started shouting, "Take it outside!"

The mother said something like, "Y'all kiss my ass!"

And then EVERYONE in the auditorium began screaming at her to take the kid out!! She shut up, the baby didn't, and she skulked out quietly a few seconds later.

9:48 PM  
Blogger boo said...

i dislike those boors, makes me stark raving mad, wished i had hot pokers to stick in their butts, to brand them as thoughtless cattle.

11:56 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"I'm even more passive-aggressive than you, Mr. Schprock. I give them the glare of death out of the side of my face."

Kathleen, teach me the glare of death. I promise to only use it for good.


Flood: Your stories reminded me of a moviegoer I had to put up with who ridiculed "A.I." in the theater. Granted it was a flawed movie, but he completely robbed the film of having any "spell." That was so unfair to everyone else.


"Yes, he does that and it's two more reasons to love the guy. =)"

I want to see movies with you and your husband. He's sounds like my kind of guy.


"So, in short, you all should come to NY to see a movie. Hey! I know, how about on June 23rd?! ;)"

I'm trying to figure out a way to make it work, Nypinta. I would sure like to. And I hope everyone a tankful of gas away from Albany will condsider it too.


"That kind of atmosphere is exactly why we saw DaVinci Code at a 10:30 pm showing during its second week out. No kids...hell, hardly anyone at all! I think the 5 of us were half the people in the theatre!"

That's smart, Claire. It's an inconvenient time, but worth it if you can avoid the chowderhead factor.


"That's just it, Schprock. They paid to get in, so they feel entitled to do whatever they damn well please. There's no logic that'll make these people shut up."


But why, Farrago? WHY??


"i dislike those boors, makes me stark raving mad, wished i had hot pokers to stick in their butts, to brand them as thoughtless cattle."

Ha ha ha! That's great, Boo!

5:23 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Schprock, I asked Scott if my Johnny Cash pic was offensive. Youu didn't visit my last blog entry and well, a lot of normal 'regulars' didn't. Was it the picture?

5:35 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Mr. Schprock - Next time I'm in Bahstahn I'll show you the Glare of Death. It's very useful.

7:07 AM  
Anonymous dreadmouse said...

In general, I agree with all of you. Most comments in a movie are totally unwelcome, and some are definitely taser-worthy.

There are times, though, when it is better to be in the crowd. You know, when something really surprising or impressive happens and the whole audience "GASPS!" at once? Or when a joke is made that has everybody roaring with laughter, so hard that we all miss the next three lines of dialogue?

For me, those moments are better than the 50' screen and the Dolby Surround. They make the movies a communal event rather than just a bunch of strangers trying to sit together as quietly as possible.

7:08 AM  
Blogger John said...

Maybe there's a market for theaters specifically for running commentary. They could divided it up into theaters with MST-style heckling, actual commentary from the director like on DVDs, and my personal favorite, color commentary with John Madden.

"What the hero wants to do here is get the girl. But first he's going to have to get over his hang-ups about interperative dance. Boom!"

"It used to be that a part like this would go to Burt Reynolds. Now they've got Hugh Jackman."

12:22 PM  
Blogger Wordnerd said...

When we go to the movies as a family, it's a pretty expensive outing. Nothing infuriates me more than loud, obnoxious, cell-phone talking (we are not impressed -- we have phones too) jerks in the theater. We try to plan around that sort of thing. Unfair to us, yes, but it beats walking out of the theater halfway thru the movie.

Your post reminded me, though, of an experience we had a couple of years ago. My family wanted to see one of the Harry Potters, so we chose a listing at a small, out-of-the way theater. After the movie started, we discovered it was a close-captioned screening for the hearing impaired. And boy, do those guys make a lot of noise!!!

12:52 PM  
Blogger NYPinTA said...

I don't know where, but there is a theater around here that has a night that is specifically set aside for people to come and bring their kids just so they won't on any other day and ruin the movie for people that don't have them, or paid for a babysitter. Good plan.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Bish said...

A-men! The only time you see the usher now is when he's rattling the coffee can after the pre-movie PSA runs. Once the movie starts, and idiots start yakkin', the ushers are nowhere to be found.

I'm sure an off duty cop, armed with a taser, would do juuust fine as the Movie Marshall!

5:46 AM  

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