Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are We Really Having This Discussion?

Via The AVClub
The big topic at CinemaCon - the combination Movie Theater trade-show / tech-demo / footag-showcase - this year was the debut of the 48fps digital projector technology for "The Hobbit." Second biggest? Apparently theater chain owners are having a serious discussion about whether they should allow people to text during movies to increase ticket sales.

The obvious answer for any respectable person is NO; but that we've come to the point where this is even a serious question is telling about just how much closer we inch toward Idiocracy every day.

The population has become so obscenely bloated - in multiple senses of the term - that the stupid, ignorant and inconsiderate now have so much power as a "market demographic" that lowering the standards to entice them back into various establishments is seen as a necessary business decision.

I will GLADLY pay a higher ticket price to attend a theater that forcibly removes talkers, phone-users and other wastes of tissue from the building; and I know I'm not alone. If Michael Bay's America wants to text during the movie, let them do it at home - and if the ticket prices have to rise and the Theatrical Experience has to become the province of elite cinephiles and hardcore film-geeks who don't mind paying extra for the privilige... so be it. I've had enough.


Taylor said...

For me, it's nice. It's the end of the discussion: No more theaters for me. Not doing it, it's not worth it anymore. I have plenty other places where I can enjoy my movies, and I'll wait until the scourge of the megaplex dies the slow, painful death it deserves.

Anonymous said...

I think this is the place for you Bob.

Anonymous said...

I almost want to see this happen just because it would be one of the most darkly hilarious backfires ever.

Think about it: the "text and talk during the movie" crowd isn't a real demographic. They are not an ethnic, political, religious, or cultural group that believe they're being persecuted by the practices of the establishment. They don't select not to go to movies because they feel like their right to vapid 140-character ejaculations (the only proper word to describe most of their conversations) is being infringed. They just go to the movies and do it anyway. The very thought that they are barely above asshole drivers swerving between lanes without a turn signal and cutting people off with only three feet of clearance (in fact, there's probably overlap between the groups) never crosses their minds and if it does, fuck the man. They're showing how they are not bound by your pathetic rules.

Meanwhile, there are already tons of people that have given up on the cineplex because it is such a negative experience and tons more that are on the fence. The moment you legitimize texting in theaters, you automatically lose half of the fence-sitters because you've dashed the hope that maybe, just maybe, an usher might kick out a disruptive person (when was the last time you ever saw that happen?). From there, such a policy change would also convert grudgingly-courteous movie-goers into texting assholes, thus convincing the last stragglers this is not worth their precious time off.

If I had to guess the trade-off, for every 1 person that doesn't go to movies because they know they shouldn't (not can't or forbidden from, but shouldn't) be texting, can't suspend their bullshit "conversations" for 90-160 minutes, and honestly believe they'd be caught, you'd lose about 2500 people that would rather wait for the home release. No joke: hell, I think I'm lowballing it.

As far as this topic in general goes: it's pointless. The people that engage in this behavior are lost to us. This behavior is the symptom of a much larger problem: the "fuck everybody else" mentality. They will not be convinced by anything short of brute force, but even that only reinforces their mindset. It's just sad to read guides on proper etiquette (whether in theatres, Xbox Live, on the road, or whatever) because the people that need to read it never will.

biomechanical923 said...

Behold the result of the "self-esteem" / "no-child-left-behind" movement of the 90s.
It turns out if you teach a kid by telling them that they're special and exceptional by default (without ever accomplishing anything) then they'll grow up actually believing it.
Perhaps the future might have a lucrative niche open up for "text free theaters". Just build a theater and secretly put a faraday cage behind the walls and ceiling so there's no cell phone/ 3G / wifi signal in the building.

Anonymous said...

I was born in 1990, and i feel like its my generation thats causing this s#*"t. To all you other generations, i apologize.

I wish i could tell you that the people who HAVE to update their facebook status and twitter and text their, like, totally best friendz sinze forevarz are in the minority, but its like watching a zombie horde evolve. More and more people just keep joining the rolling ball of wasted human meat.

I dont know, maybe our parents simply managed to raise people with the perfect blend of bloated ego and mindless disregard for others. I cant use myself as a controll subject here, since i am the exception to every godamn rule (put it this way, you wont find anyone else from my generation that know what MS3K means, and i listnen to music that was considered old before i was even born...) my generation has generated, so...i dunno, feel free to cull our numbers. Most of us seem to be duchebags anyway.

biomechanical923 said...

Here's another idea that just came to me:

Maybe open up a theater that's like a "club". You need a membership or subscription to get into the theater, and your membership can get revoked if you abuse the shit out of your member privileges.

Maybe have a rewards program for long-term members, or the opportunity for private screenings to "gold-tier members" or some such shit.

Now all i need are some investors....

Graham said...

More texting = less talking during the movie.

I fail to see how this is a problem.

Graham said...

Oh yeah, and something else.

If the movie sucks and you find yourself bored (or want to see if there's a bonus scene after the credits), it's a helpful time-waster while the runtime ticks down.

v_opposition said...

@Graham, The light on your goddammed cellphone distracts 30 people behind and next to you. If you are bored at the movie you can fucking leave. You sir are everything wrong with going to the movies today. You sir can DIAF.

lemonvampire said...

I'm not sure the texting epidemic is really as bad as Bob makes it out to be, at least not in my personal experience. I can't recall ever even seeing anyone texting in a theater I was attending, let alone doing it to such an extent as to ruin my own movie-going experience.
And even if one or two people were texting at a movie I was watching, I really can't imagine being that annoyed by it. I've no doubt others would find it unbearable, but I just don't imagine that a small light four or five seats down the row from me is going to draw my eye from the screen and ruin my experience.
I agree wholeheartedly with the need to enforce proper etiquette, but this just hasn't been a problem that I can relate to.

Redd the Sock said...

Playing a bit of devil's advocate here Bob, but you do realize how hurt theatres have been by torrents and the 3 -4 month DVD release window? They're hurting for customers most of the time and the group that seems to enjoy things trhough the distractions seems easier to market to that those that come off like the theatre is their own personal sensory deprivation tank. I mean, I don't get the whole need to be online constantly either (I don't even have a cell phone myself), and think that at the cost of movies these days they deserve your undivided attention, but you can't fault a business for going where they know the money is, rather than the claims of those that might not follow through if you change things to suit them.

I know it sounds cynical, but then again, when the public smoking ban hit here all the non smokers claimed busieness would boom from all the people kept away by the smoke. 3 years later, the boom still hasn't happened, so I've learned to be skeptical of boycoter complaints.

Redd the Sock said...

Oh, and personally, I've never been bothered by texting in theatres. Then again, I usually sit down front so rarely is anyone in front of me to see, and on the rare occasion there was, they didn't provide any more light distraction than the emergency exit signs, or the little lights on the floor to show where the aisle walkway is.

Walgreens said...

Moviebob, move here to Austin. We'd love to have you.

Anonymous said...


I'll just leave this here :3

v_opposition said...

@Anonymous 12:41am
Right back at ya.

Just because XKCD says it's true doesn't make your argument true, find some real data.

Mike said...

@Redd the Sock, I remember when the smoking ban happend here, people complained that it would drive smokers away. And it didn't. As a matter of fact, it's most likely the economy that keep people from going out like they used to.

I rarely go to movies, and when I do, I specifically go when I know teenagers won't be there. So I've never really had a problem with this. But it's silly for theathers to think that allowing texting will bring more people in.

Megabyte said...

The problem with a smoker ban is actually a lot different then this. Here we have theaters DECIDING what they want to do, not being TOLD what to do. If a restaurant wants to go smoke free, God bless them. But they should never be forced.

That said, for once, I agree with Bob. This is a VERY dark sign when theaters collectively think they need to lift such a ban. Having had many-a-movie ruined by idiots who cant keep their yaps at least to a whisper amongst each other (and that is cool... you can still have fun at the movie's expense if it needs to be made fun of and STILL not ruin it for others), I actually havent been to a theater in years. I can only imagine it will get worse from what I see elsewhere, and this wont improve it.

I'd actually like to see a theater try it and see how it goes for a few months.... that way they can seriously find out rather then speculate if we have fallen that far... or I can find out by the ones that allow it closing instead of spreading that a movie theater can be enjoyable again.

Greg said...

I dunno. It does feel like it's a very small issue to be worried about. People text in movies I'm at all the time, and unless they have their ringer turned on it has never bothered me. If your whole experience at the movie is ruined because you notice the light of a screen flicker on you probably need to learn to relax. I've never been to any sort of establishment where all minor annoyances have been wiped-out. And I'm sure we've all grown to tolerate stuff like that happens at any public location.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan said...

I'm in 100% agreement with you here, Bob.

If you can't take 90-120 minutes out of the day to stay off your freakin' cell phone, then you have a PROBLEM.

Call me old-fashioned, but there are a lot of times when I don't want to be in contact with ANYBODY.

It's a little concept we call privacy, and, in today's society, people that aren't constantly posting every inane detail of their lives to Facebook, Twitter, etc, are seen as anti-social, anti-technological shut-ins.

But anyway, I digress: can you tell I don't really like where certain aspects of our society are going?

Back on topic, I had a texter in front of me when I went and saw The Hunger Games with my wife. She was trying to hide it from the people she was with, which was causing her to shine that digital solar flare right into my eyes.

Since it was The Hunger Games, I didn't care enough to tell her to put the damn thing up, but it's still a complete distraction and overall pain in the ass.

Besides, sitting in the dark getting blasted by harsh LCD screens (or whatever the Hell cellphone screens are made of) isn't good for your eyes.

So I'd gladly pay more to go to a cineplex where texters and cell phone talkers are immediately (and forcefully) ejected from the theatre.

Redd the Sock said...

I imagine the smoking thing hit places differently overall. The bingo hall I volunteered at went from 250 people average attendance to 150 on a busy night within a year (hence, used to volunteer at as non profits jumped ship when the income dried up.) My point is that there's a stong inclination when you hear "X is keeping me away" to go "yeah, sure, right". While some of us are exceptions, can you really expect theatre owners to beleive that the adults complaining about the kids were really interested in the movie marketed at the kids?

cdstephens said...

Although I agree with Bob that it's definitely not good to legitimize this behavior, I'm somewhat confused as to how this behavior is related to Michael Bay.

Anonymous said...


Michael Bay produces the kind of anti-individual, anti-intellectual, pro-douchebag movies that the worst kinds of audiences attend. His popularity is more a symptom than a cause, though.

David (The Pants) said...

I agree with Megabyte in that we should try this out so as to see if it does anything, big or small.

I have not had to encounter this problem, but I can imagine the screen-light is confined enough that it will not be annoying. It's the beeping and ringing and talking that are the most distracting.

But I agree, if you cannot go on a hiatus from communicating with people for a movie's length, don't go to a movie. Or if you need to talk-text with somebody, leave the theater for a little bit. Common sense, common courtesy.

Chris Cesarano said...

I had to tell someone to shut up when I went to see Cloverfield.

There was a bunch of giggling school girls that mercifully shut up after a while when I saw Harry Potter.

I saw Ghost Busters in theaters in October and had to tell two assholes behind me that it's nice how they know every single line and all, but I was a lot more interested in listening to Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis reciting them, not a pair of douchebags in a theater.

This Saturday I saw Cabin in the Woods, and I had to thank a guy for his constant narration, because without repeating every joke in the first thirty minutes of the film I wouldn't have understood a thing going on.

I saw Cabin in the Woods again Tuesday evening, and...nothing.


Everyone shut up and watched the movie.

I don't know what happened in the past five or ten years, but people have just started to fucking SUCK at the theater. But I have learned that a week day is the best time, because the theater will be near empty and whoever is there probably won't be talking.


I just feel it's ridiculous that I have to adjust my schedule for other assholes. I am NOT risking seeing a movie like The Avengers on a weekend, though. I don't trust a crowd of College kids, literal kids, or comic geeks. Not anymore.

Blue Highwind said...

I work part-time in a theatrical theater. So if you're wondering if you're allowed to text during a movie, the answer is: NO.



There is no discussion to be had on this point. The cellphone turns off. Every single show, from operas, to dramas, to just minor celebrity appearances, we always play the announcement: no cellphones, no cameras, no food, and no texting.

Sanunes said...

If the theaters near me allow cells phones to be active for texting, I won't be going to a theater anymore and will look for alternatives.

Anonymous said...

I don't see why they would want to attract more of the people that text on their phone anyway, the ones that I see in theaters bring in outside food and drink because they don't respect the people around them or the theater and when I worked at a theater that was where the money was made at the concession.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

Like all increasingly irrelevant industries, the movie theaters (and Bob) have completely missed the point. The problem isn't that people want to text in movie theaters, the problem is that the advantage of watching a movie on a large theater screen doesn't out weigh the cons of being disconnected.

Most of us avid phone users realize that we have to make a choice between being connected to the rest of the world or watching a movie in a theater... and we've chosen our phones. And, I mean, given that we could just as easily watch the movie on our phones, can you really blame us?

"Letting" us text while in the theater doesn't make it any less rude toward other patrons, really won't do gets us back in there, and obviously will just piss off their current consumer base.

It's a desperate move by a dieing industry that can't for the life of them understand why their insanely-over-priced-and-offering-nil-beyond-a-home-theater-experience business model is dieing.

Sylocat said...

I'll never understand people who can't bear to separate themselves for the internet for two hours.

john said...

@TheAlmightyNarf: While I'll certainly agree about theaters being overpriced, they do still have two key advantages: they get movies well before the DVD release, and they don't require a thousands-of-dollars initial cost like a "home theater" setup. I don't see many new movies these days, but when I do, I'd like to see them on a big screen with a quality sound system. I could spend a couple thousand I really can't afford building a "home theater" setup I don't have space for, or I could fork over $10 to see it in a theater and save myself the time and the trouble. Certainly if you're the kind of person for whom film is their primary hobby (or professional life,) I can see the cost and convenience advantages of having your own setup, but for a lot of us it's just not worth it when we could settle for an occasional (overpriced) movie ticket.

Merrick_HLC said...

I'm just going to put it this way. I go to the movies almost every week. If the chain I go to (AMC) said texting was okay and people near me were texting/tweeting.

I get to keep hearing their alert sound, have the bright lights of their phones distracting me during the movie.

I will walk out and demand my money back. I will likely never go back again and start just waiting for DVD again.

I go to see & hear the movie. Not a chorus of texting sounds and tons of small bright lights dance around the crowd.

Chris Cesarano said...


I cannot fathom why it is that important to be connected with one exception: someone is hurt and at the hospital, potentially dying.

Once upon a time, this was handled by calling the movie theater and having them find you. This is how my parents were informed I had cracked my head open when I was 5 years old.

People have lived disconnected from the world before. They can now. What in the world do you need to be connected to someone during a movie for? Can they not wait?

I know everyone is different and everyone has different priorities, but at the very least if you MUST be connected, be polite and walk out of the theater before answering the phone or making a call. Otherwise it is inconsiderate and self-centered, no ifs ands or buts.

Anonymous said...

To all the people here who said they'd never watch a movie in a theater again if others didn't stop texting, please do so. Please, do not go to a movie theater ever again. Please, do not leave your houses ever again. The rest of society would rather have all of the self-righteous moral crusaders lock themselves inside coffins of propriety than burden every other reasonable person with incessant bitching. You do not get to dictate the terms by which other people live their lives.

BTW, I don't talk or use my phone in theaters, ever. But I believe in freedom of choice, so if you don't like someone else's choices, you can choose to gtfo.

Anonymous said...

This whole post (accompanied by a hefty portion of the comments) is just ridiculously over the top Bob. I couldn't agree less.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ john

If you wanted a top of the line home theater system with a giant screen and surround sound, yea sure. But, a decent TV with good (if not great) speakers probably won't run you more than a couple hundred... less if you just use your PC as a home theater.

Thing is that watching movies is not a primary hobby of mine and I usually can't be bothered to go out the the theater even under the best of circumstances. I don't need to see movies right away, and I don't need to watch them on a giant screen. I mean, I can just stream movies any time I want... Why would I go somewhere to watch them?

Cinemas are to movies what arcades were to video games. And they are very quickly going down the same road.

@ Chris Cesarano

You sound exactly like an old man raging against new technologies.


Just change what you said to be about, oh, I don't know, cars or something...

"I cannot fathom why it is that important people drive around to get places.

Once upon a time, this was handled by just walking to where you needed to go

People have lived walking around before. They can now. What in the world do you need to get to places so fast for? Can they not wait?"

john said...

@TheAlmightyNarf: There's a world of difference between a decent TV and speakers and a megabuck home-theater setup, though, let alone an actual theater. Like you, I don't watch that many movies, but some of the ones I do, I really do want to see on a big screen, with a heavy-duty sound system. A TV and speakers isn't the same thing by a long shot.

Mr Ink 5000 said...

maybe its a sign that in this age we are so used to our home comforts that the cinema age is going to die.

Merrick_HLC said...

To those saying those of us opposed to it are "luddites" of a sort.

Here's the thing. texts make alarm noises, it's difficult to pay attention to the film if you're hearing tons of sounds all around you all through the movie.

This isn't like saying you don't want people to use cars to travel.

We're not saying you shouldn't be able to bring your phone in and keep it on for emergencies or such.

And if you're wearing like google glasses or something where you can text or whatever with no sound or light distracting others, then I really do not care if you choose to use them.

But just like you shouldn't bring a portable speaker to a concert and play it over the artist people came to hear perform live, you should not add your own soundtrack to a film unless it is important.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ john

I guess I understand that, it just really doesn't matter all that much to me. A movie is a movie regardless of how you watch it.

@ Merrick_HLC

The point I was making isn't that not wanting people to use their cell phones in theaters makes you a "luddite"... it's that going to theaters at all makes you a "luddite".

The point I made back in my original post was that the vast majority of cell phone users have simply opted out of going to theaters entirely, which is why the theaters now our trying to get us to come back by "letting" us use our phones. But, as their word clearly does not make it any less rude to do so, that's not going to do anything other than piss off the people who still go to theaters.

Megabyte said...

To the Anonymouse who hopes everyone who wont go to theaters if people are allowed to text don't... Let me wish the dead reverse. You see, I believe in choice too.. the choice of the theaters to choose if they want to let people text or not.

And I hope they choose... and we see what the market really wants instead of the garbage "all or nothing" bullshit.

THAT'S choice... when you can CHOOSE a theater that allows texting, or CHOOSE a theater that does not.

buzzkillinton said...

ok people who text during films i want you to take a flash light with you the next time you go to the cinema and have a guy 3 rows down shine it in your eye every 3 -5 minutes. maybe then you will understand how fucking annoying it is