The Geek Life is a weekly look at what is going on in the Geek Culture. Movies, Comics, Books, Video Games, and TV Shows encompass more than just release dates and reviews. This week, the Geek Life knows it is time to Take Back the Theater.
It has now happened one too many times in a row. So, forgive me if the Geek Life gets a tad nasty this week. I, like you, love to go to the movies. I have probably surpassed many “normal people” ten or twenty times over in the number of times which I go to the movies. It is sacred to me. Like the way a religious person attends church, that is how I go to the movies. I pay it the proper respect. However, I am starting to notice that so few others do.
A couple of the writers on this site and I are curators of film for The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The theater is the exact same one featured in The Blob (1958). Our duties encompass planning out the Horror and Cult Cinema screenings for the year. We try and give you that first cinematic experience of a film you probably watched a hundred times on TV. We introduce the film and talk about why we chose it. Lately, we have had to add both: Turn off your cell phone and please, don’t talk. These two simple courtesies should never have to be mentioned. Yet, now we have to watch people like hawks who find it necessary to text, Facebook, and talk about something other than the movie. We fail to see why people, who pay good money to go out and watch a movie, would ruin it by being on their phones. We’ve been making strides, but it has been getting worse and not just for our theater, either.
Recently, we had a screening of Death Rides a Horse (1967), featuring Lee Van Cleef and John Philip Law. Around twenty minutes into the film, a young woman in front of me whips out her phone and starts texting. She not only blinded me by her phone, but kept checking it again and again. I ran up to her and told her how much I appreciated her ruining my night and politely asked her to turn off the phone. As a host, I can’t get violently mad and swear, but my point was made and she didn’t touch her phone again.
I invited a few friends to see a holiday screening of The Bishop’s Wife (1947) starring Cary Grant. Imagine my surprise when my buddy’s wife took out her phone and started checking her text messages. Figuring this would be only a one time thing, I didn’t make a remark or even a grunt. Lo and behold, she did it throughout the entire movie. I took the brunt of the attack as my girlfriend was sitting to my right. That light was so bright that my left eye started to water. When I held up my hand like a horse blind, I thought she would get the hint. Nope.
Since I live in the Philadelphia area, I ventured out to see Silver Linings Playbook (2012), which was shot here. Everyone is talking about it so I thought I had better see what all the fuss is about. At the one hour mark, I had to get up and leave. In my right ear, a man and his wife were talking the entire time at normal volume. At first it was if there was a TV set playing a different movie behind me. What really set me off was that almost in perfect unison when the characters on screen took a pause, these jackasses talked.
At the Colonial, we are starting to police ourselves, but how far can we really go? I complained to the manager at the Silver Linings Playbook incident and he supplied me with a few free passes. However, I was so disinterested in the plot (because of the talking) that I now feel as if the film is tainted. I didn’t say a word to my friend or his wife at The Bishop’s Wife, knowing full well I didn’t want to sacrifice twenty years of friendship over it.
Justice is Coming or, at Least, the Start of it.
I once worked with a gaffer on a movie and he told me the following story: He and his wife had ventured out to see The Matrix (1999). This was going to be their last grown up movie as his wife was expecting. All throughout the beginning of the movie, a man was talking over the film. The wife promptly stood up, turned around, and told the man to shut up or she was going to dump her drink on him. The gaffer told me the talker was terrified and didn’t make a peep for the rest of the film.
That story has stuck with me and really gets my ideas flowing on payback for these jerks. Obviously, I can’t bring a raging pregnant woman with me every time I go to the movies. So what else can we do, besides get a manager and have our evening/ experience ruined?
Here is what my vengeful mind has come up with:
Dumping water on the three seats in front of you, the three seats behind you, and on either side. No one is going to sit there.
I have often debated sacrificing my $10 soda and dumping it on someone’s cell phone or, at the the very least, slam dunking it into it.
The flying Reece’s Pieces attack. Every get hit by one? They do sting. From this point on, any jackass on his phone deserves one in the back of the head.
The hidden water pistol. Get a good one, with pump action, and aim it right at their phone. Smart phones are expensive, perhaps they’ll get the idea.
We could ask the theaters to actually use ushers and ask people to leave. Give them a free pass and ask them to come back later. On the west coast, I saw ushers walk the theater with orange flashlights. It was annoying, but it worked. Since I’ve moved back east, I have seen very little of this.
Perhaps it is time for total movie interruption? Maybe it might just take a trip to jail and a court hearing to illustrate the point that those of us who really love the movies are willing to go to the extreme to take back the theater. Imagine the headline, “Man dumps soda on movie talker”.
Now, don’t post that you don’t go to movies anymore for these reasons. The cinematic experience is unmatched and many films deserve being experienced in this way. If you prefer to stay at home, then do so. If you can’t sacrifice two hours off your phone, then, by all means, don’t go. There are still many of us that want our theatrical experience. So, what say you, Maniacs? Are you ready to join me and take back the movie theaters?
Robert Trate writes three weekly columns for Mania: the DVD Shopping Bag, the Mania Box Office Report, and The Geek Life. Follow Robert on Twitter for his for Geek ramblings, Cosplay photos and film criticisms.