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Opinions, Arts, Movies & TV

Opinion: Movie theatre manners are officially dead

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Thor Diakow Apr 11, 2018 8:25 am 7,236

Have you been to the movies lately? It sucks, right?

No, I’m not talking about the quality of films in theatres — what we have here is the complete breakdown of movie theatre manners. And things seem to be getting worse.

From checking phones, to seat kicking, to talking, it seems many are treating their local cinema like their own living room.

It’s not cool and it needs to stop. You and a bunch of other people paid hard-earned money to escape for a few hours and see a flick. Respect the damn etiquette.

Here are some examples of the increasingly egregious errors being made when it comes to movie theatre manners.

See also

Talking

Unless you’re sitting down for a good ol’ fashioned Grease sing-along or throwing toast at a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening… please shut the hell up. Seriously. I don’t care that you recognize that actor from something else or you have some elaborate idea of where the story is going. Just stop. Close your freaking gob for a while.

Sure, the occasional audible reaction or whispered comment is fine but there’s a delicate art to this that many don’t give a sh*t about anymore. And those incessant loud laughs at inappropriate moments? Don’t get me started.

Phones

annoying woman texting during movie

Image: woman texting during movie / Shutterstock

Put the damn thing away. It’s 2018 and we should not still be reminding people about this.  Yeah, I know you’re just checking a text or some bullsh*t but just don’t. It’s distracting and takes us out of the cinematic world we’re trying so hard to become immersed in.

If your partner’s about to give birth or your brain surgery skills are needed in the ER then fine—but take it outside! Otherwise, leave it alone. Honestly, how tethered are we to these things? A lot, apparently.

Food

I’m all for snacking while at the movies but this should come with limitations too. I understand you’re hungry and don’t always want to scarf down some overpriced popcorn. However, you might want to rethink that exorbitant charcuterie platter, featuring the alluring fragrances of blue cheese and salami.

If you insist on bringing your cute little bag of snacks from home, for the love of god, avoid crinkly packaging. And don’t take 10 minutes struggling to open it while the rest of us are trying to listen to some key scene.

Seat-Saving

This one seems to be getting worse, mainly because it’s sort of a grey area when it comes to proper protocol. If I put my jacket down and save a seat (or god forbid, two) than I have claimed said seat(s) so move the f*ck along and find another one. I got here before you — next time arrive earlier. Case closed.

People are straight up ignoring seat saves, pretending like they didn’t notice the giant puffy jacket they decided to park their butt on, while staring dumbfounded at the person when they inevitably return from the concession or restroom. That being said, don’t be a dick and save an entire row for your group of friends when only two of them have actually confirmed they’re coming.

What’s Your Pet Peeve?

I recently asked people on Twitter to send me their pet peeves about today’s theatre-going experience and there were some doozies: extreme manspreading, literal babies at R-rated films, some guy chewing tobacco and then spitting into a cup, yelling “OMG, it’s Stan Lee!”, people arriving late then staring in astonishment for five minutes at no available seats, and even some friendly neighbourhood vaping.

And not to step on a minefield here but I have personally noticed more and more audible translations of the film’s dialogue — like, every scene — from numerous couples lately. It’s awesome that we live in a multicultural society, but please pipe down once the movie starts.

So we’re getting worse at the movie theatre but don’t put the blame squarely on our phones. It’s really about commitment failure. If you don’t want to respect the process just queue up Netflix as usual, but if you are venturing out to the big screen soon, please be a decent human for the rest of us.


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Thor Diakow
Thor Diakow is a national film critic, producer for Breakfast Television Vancouver on City, and frequent contributor to Rogers Radio.

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