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Has anyone else noticed movie audiences declining in etiquette?

After weeks of blogger’s guilt, and agonizing over what all important subject to cover, I finally settled on this one…. Not politics, not new years resolutions, not fatherhood, or anything else far more important. My return to blogging will be about this: My annoyances with certain yayhoos at the movies. And my theory that it’s a cultural phenomenon. Enjoy!

I got my first job at age 11. I was the official weeder for Mrs. Fackerell’s flower gardens. Thank goodness for my older brother Mike paving the way for this lucrative opportunity, otherewise I would never experience the pay-day from 11 hours of weeding at 1.25/hour. Plus, if there were ever a check that added up to, say,  $17.75, she would generously round up to an even $20.00. I was rich!

But this isn’t a post about working as a kid. This is a post about what I’d experience with that money.

For years, most of my money was excitedly spent on movie tickets at the two-auditorium movie theater in American Fork, called “The Towne Cinemas”. What movies did I see?  I remember seeing the Daniel Larusso duke it out with Johnny in Karate Kid. I remember going with Marty to the 50’s in Back to the Future, and pretending to see my parents as extras. And then of course there were the Star Wars movies, which felt like a constant roller coaster of adrenaline and cringing in my seat from terror of Darth Vader. The Indiana Jones movies certainly made the list as well, which lead to me buying a bullwhip from a very talented haggler in Tijuana, when I was 13.

Back then, though, the movies were a true escape to a magical world. And I loved every minute of it.

Yeah, you had your loud talkers and loud laughter, and occasionally some punk would try to be obnoxious before being shushed by the girls he was there to impress…. but pretty much everyone obeyed their parent’s instructions, quieted down, and followed the movie. If the loud laugher laughed during the funny part, what was the big deal? Everyone else was laughing anyway, so it wasn’t bad.

And when children misbehaved, they were escorted out of the movie. Not by an usher, but by the parent. My hard earned money was well spent seeking a temporary escape into the fantasy and wonderland of the silver screen.

My love for movies continued througout high school and college. I saw movies often on the weekend they came out. It became a popular date night activity for me. Not because I didn’t have creativity, but because I truly loved seeing movies.

Then cell phones arrived on the scene.

Not just arrived, but became ubiquitous. Cell phones do so much culturally. Besides making you available, by virtue of staying connected to someone who isn’t present, you devalue those who are. In emotionally immature people of all ages, this leads to rudeness towards strangers. The bodies that sit around them aren’t nearly as important as their own, and the person they are texting. What I’ve noticed during movies now, is that almost everyone has to check their phones for texts, reply if “urgent”, check the time, check their call log, and in some rare occassions, answer their phones. Not in the foyer, SEATED. It has become increasingly annoying. Kicking or propping your feet on the seat in front of you is the norm, even if someone is seated there.

This behavior has also coincided with the world’s worst case of inflation for any single item. The movie ticket. In my lifetime, it has gone from 1 buck a ticket, to as much as 12.50 for an IMAX showing. For two of us, that’s a cool $25.00, not counting their popcorn and awful tasting, yet necessary diet coke–both of which have to be laced with gold dust to justify such a high price.

But I still WANT to enjoy the movies. So I suck it up, hand over my month’s wages, and hope for the best. I find my seat (learning more and more that I’ll enjoy it far more if I sit on the top row), and my wife and I get seated.

The theater then begins to fill…. I watch them enter, and predict who they will be. Will they be the constant texter? The phone answerer? The loud laugher? The seat kicker? The OMG’er? The line-repeater? or will the be one of the worst ones, the constant “what did he say?-er.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m starting to watch for them. but the disruptive have been very hard to ignore. Then I get so frustrated that I’d just forked over 50 bucks for an enjoyable night out, and these morons have to ruin it, by acting as if it were their own home theater.  And quite frankly, I don’t feel that love of going to the movies like I once did. And that’s sad to me.

Most of childhood has to stay with childhood, and you become “too old” to do those kinds of activities. But I like to have SOME things to bring with me. I like to feel that love of the movies again. The same way I love to feel the love of Disneyland. It’s fun. It’s innocent. And though my life is filled with responsibilities, deadlines, critiques, pressure, stress that sometimes pound all of the childhood innocence out of me, it would be nice if I could count on a good ol’ movie escape every now and again.

Has anyone else noticed a drastic decline in movie etiquette? And if so, what do you attribute it to? I have a few theories:

1. It could be blamed on Hollywood, for making movies which attract the more youthful, boisterous crowd? (Please read this article “The day movies died” for further opinion on that subject)

2. The advent, and constant connection to cell phones

3. Poor parenting, by not teaching the proper way to behave in movies and other group settings.

4. Other— please explain?

I welcome your opinions—if you have any about what I observe to be a phenomenon–or if you haven’t noticed a change at all.


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  1. Paragraph Film Reviews

     /  January 11, 2012

    In the UK we have this: http://paragraphfilmreviews.com/2010/12/01/cinema-code-of-conduct

    You can click the pic for a bigger version. I think above all else, I would blame declining interest in the movie theatre experience. Going to the cinema is no longer a treat, when you can download / stream / watch them at home on a big screen with big sound in your house – which some people would prefer.

    And ADHD, I’ll blame that too!

    • Craig

       /  January 11, 2012

      I’d agree, I do think the home theater has impacted the movie experience. Especially how the movie goes to DVD so quickly. I feel like I just barely saw Moneyball, but it’s out on DVD this week.

      Thanks for posting!

  2. I’m going to vote for #2 with a dash of #3.

    You forgot to add people who bring their babies to action movies…or, heck, to any movies. You can’t believe my shock when I saw a new born (or as such the mother described her to sympathetic friend) in the opening weekend showing of Thor.


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