Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Movie phone

When visiting the local Cineplex to see a movie, prior to the feature presentation there's generally a message asking the patrons to please refrain from talking during the show. That the public needed to be instructed it was inconsiderate to talk during the movie was somewhat disheartening to those of us who knew that already, but the fact the theater made the effort was appreciated. Didn't always work, but it did seem to help.

In recent years the message has included an admonishment against texting, presumably because the idiots who would be inclined to talk but weren't doing so transferred that same lack of paying attention to the screen to the admittedly quiet activity of sending text messages on their phones, but they failed to grasp their phones were a bright spot of light in an otherwise dark room and thus it was still distracting to others, and thus they needed to be told it was.

And that has helped make the theater-going experience better. Any time I see a movie without people talking or using their phones while the movie plays I am sincerely happy. However, if I may, I'd like to ask for just a tiny bit more from the other theater goers: Please do not turn on your phone until the lights actually come up, or until you've left the theater.

You've done so well otherwise.

There seems to be this notion among those of you who need that reminder before the movie that as soon as the end credits start rolling you are absolved of any further consideration to the rest of us in the theater, and that you can whip out your phone and power up its very bright screen just because there's no more action on the screen and there's nothing but names scrolling. But here's the thing: The room is still dark; the lights have not come up yet. Those of us who actually stick around to read the credits—okay, those of us who read the names of some of the actors and the list of songs on the soundtrack, but mostly who are remaining in our seats to see if there's a little bonus scene at the end of the credits—are right behind you and a couple of seats to the side, so your head does not block your bright little screen from shining in to our eyes that are still adjusted to the dark (the screen is black with little white text, meaning this is probably the darkest the room has been the entire time we've been in the theater).

I'll even meet you halfway: During those end credits you are free to talk; that ban is lifted. If you want to whip out your phone and press it against the side of your head and have a conversation on it, go ahead. But if you intend to hold the phone away from your body and text someone, or read something, or do anything with that bright little screen, please precede that act by getting up from your seat and exiting the theater first.

I grasp that your seat in the theater may be a more comfortable spot in which to perform whatever phone activity you cannot wait to get to than would be the hallway or lobby. So then you merely have to wait a few minutes and when the lights come up knock yourself out.

If your addiction to your device is too great to allow you to grant you that level of patience, and you simply must get on it when the first end credit name appears, at least have the decency to sit in the very last row when you first enter.

Or just stay home. You probably lack the attention span to make it through two hours of anything anyway; the movie will be out on DVD or on-demand in a few months, and then you can sit in your living room, talking and texting as much as you want.

Oh, who am I kidding? The theaters aren't going to get that specific in their message, and you aren't going to be able to do any better than what you're doing now. I'll just stay home, where anyone talking or texting during the movie will be dealt with as I see fit.

Someday you'll be old as well, and the next generation will have something even worse in store for you.


  1. I agree, there are so many reasons NOT to go to a theatre anymore. One reason is that they're not making anything worth watching. The other reason is all the incredibly rude and stupid people who go to theatres. ;-) I'm a big supporter of theatres and restaurants using cellphone jammers, but only because they haven't yet figured out a reliable way to make them explode in the user's hands.

  2. Aw, what's wrong with cellphones?

    Headline: Oregon woman booted off train after allegedly talking 16 hours on cell phone

    And note this was in a quiet section where cellphones aren't allowed.


So, what do you think?