Thursday, May 30, 2024

Cell Phones? In MY Theatre? Meh, No Sweat

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It’s no secret I’m a cranky bastard. I remember once at a Royals game, I turned to friend of mine, Al, and I said, “You know what bothers me, Al?” To which he said, “Everything bothers you, Jeremiah. You’re the most bothered man I know.”

I say this to tell you this: I don’t give a rats ass if you text in movie theaters. Do I find it annoying? Yes. Do I wish you would stop it? Of course. Would it send me into a vitriolic rage so epic I would wish a pox on both your houses? Meh.

Look, put away your damn phones. You’re in a public screening room; people paid good money for an experience, so don’t be a dick. Also, put the thing on silent. There’s an entire production number before the trailers reminding you to silent the blasted contraption.

Movie critics and movie lovers alike will rant and rave about how cellphones need be confiscated before entering a movie. The Alamo Drafthouse, for example, famously has a zero-tolerance policy for cell phones and texting during the film. I’m actually okay with that. At the same time, I don’t think every theater needs one.

Movies are supposed to be empathy generators. For an hour or two we walk in someone else’s shoes; may they resemble us or maybe we’re nothing like them. At the end of the movie we’ve hopefully, at the very least understand them and by extension people we know like them, or ourselves, a little better.

Yet when someone takes to social media and goes on a tirade about how cell phones are killing the movie going experience someone will inevitably bring up the extreme example of “What if it’s an Emergency?” To which the self-righteous ranter will reply, “Leave.”

Fair enough. But still who cares?

Look, everyone has had a bad movie going experience. It’s a sad fact of life. Not all ball games are fun and sometimes going to the movies means sitting next to the guy who chews his popcorn with his back teeth. It’s the price you pay for going out in public with other people.

You know something? I bet you that while you may have had someone text or talk in a movie you went to, you probably don’t remember the movie it happened at. Or maybe you do, and if the movie was any good, it was still good even with the jack ass on the phone. The art is stronger than the cell phone.

I had a friend, Eric. We used to watch movies together all the time. That rat bastard would almost never shut up. No matter the movie good, bad, classic, he had jokes for every occasion. It wore on me sometimes, and sometimes it helped. Yet, when I think back, I don’t remember the anger or Eric’s jokes. I remember the movie and how it made me feel.

The art is stronger than the cellphone. I’ve had people text in movies. But I didn’t care because who the fuck cares about that rando I think that fat guy is Tom Cruise! If the movie is any good the memory trumps the inconvenience because good movies are so rare and great movies are rarer still.

Although there was one time where I do have a vivid memory of an dickweed on his cellphone. I had the privilege to see Godfather: Part II in theaters, on the big screen. It was, predictably, a-god damn-mazing. About the time we get to the pivotal moment where SPOILER ALERT Fredo gets shot, someone’s cell phone goes off. And it goes off for like a good minute. The audience is visibly perturbed but we soldier on because the moment is about to happen, so forget that guy.

But then this little rat fuck behind him decides to take a cue from Falling Down and kicks the back of the guy’s seat. Hard. And now it’s a thing. Because the cellphone guy, who’s with his wife and kids, has just turned off his cellphone; and the bearded Shemp kicks the back of his chair again.

Cell phone dude stands up. So does Osh-Kosh-McDumb fuck. Now I have a memory of the time there was almost a fight because an idiot and a moron decided they needed to have a dick measuring contest. Oh by the way, saw Fredo getting shot. Missed Michael being told though. So, thanks ass wipe.

Art is stronger than the asshole with a cellphone. What the douche in black did though was turn it from a thing and turned it into a moment, a true distraction. He pulled us away from the Corleones and made it all about him. That guy peeves me more than cell phone guy.

The phone guy, forgetful, possibly rude. Whatever. People who text during movies, nincompoops, the lot of them. Are they being selfish? Yes. But before you come at me with “I paid good money!” They did too. I could give a fuck about people on cell phones and texting. Welcome to the modern world. It’s something people do. It’s also part of why we go to the movies.

I saw Independence Day in theaters when it first came out. My sister worked at the theater and she came in during the movie to see how we were doing. Before she left she asked us if we noticed anything odd about the screen. My Mother and I shook our heads. She pointed to a small white spot on Will Smith’s head. “Someone threw a gummy bear at the screen yesterday and it melted on.” So my memory of Independence Day includes Will Smith marching about with a Gummy Bear tattoo on his forehead.

So back to the original point: I could give a fuck about people on cell phones and texting. Welcome to the modern world. It’s something people do. I’d prefer it if you weren’t texting or talking. But there’s a fifty to seventy foot screen with larger than life images who I find infinitely more interesting than your insignificant self.

To the ranters and ravers who say the other people are murdering the movie going experience-have more faith in the art. The art is amazing. Trust.

Featured image courtesy of CC0 Public Domain

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