Movie theater etiquette seems to have been lost upon many individuals within our prestigious cinema-viewing society. Sadly, this epidemic of apathy has continued to spread for some time, due in no small part to the simple fact that many willingly participate in it without even realizing it. For those curious about what one should not do in a theater, please read the following criteria and note any or all that apply to you.
- Are you frequently shushed during movies?
- Do other theatergoers mean mug you?
- Do your internal impulses prohibit you from not commenting on affecting movie scenes?
- Do you respond to your children talking in a theater in your regular speaking voice without bothering to coach them on being quiet?
- Do you kick the chair in front of you?
- Do you find yourself bouncing your knee while watching a movie in a theater?
- Do you feel important when you blurt out spoilers?
- Do you lack shame?
- Are you frequently late to a movie?
- Have you ever played the race card when you have been shushed?
- Do you rely on self-righteous come-backs when asked to be quiet?
- Are you unaware that your phone has a silent setting?
- Are you afraid that if you don’t instantly check your Snapchat, Twitter, Tindr, Grindr, Facebook notifications or text messages, you won’t be able to concentrate on the movie?
- Do you feel it’s appropriate to bring a child under 4 to an adult movie especially if it contains loud action sequences, scenes of terror, or more than a 2 hour running time?
- Would it be impossible for you to give less of a fuck towards your fellow human beings?
If you answered, “yes” to any of the above criteria, I’m sorry to say that you are a narcissistic jerk of a moviegoer. That’s right, due to your discourteous behavior, there are people in this world that want to ring your neck, but don’t despair, there’s help for you.
First, I want you to take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. There are plenty of other assholes in this world, some are incredibly successful and turn into infamous dictators, while others content themselves to happily beating their wives. Just remember, you are not isolated in your need to act out on your inadequacies, there are plenty who share your pain. Hitler comes to mind. I have no doubt he, too, chatted during movies, and look how far he got in his career. See, there’s hope for you too!
You might be thinking, “Willackers, I never thought there would be help for me. I just thought that I would continue disrespecting my peers and fellow audience member with no other recourse.” Well, you’re wrong you self-inflated ego-maniac, and it all begins with acknowledgement.
Step 1: Admit That You Have a Problem & That You Are a Jerk
I know it’s easier to say, “I’m not doing anything wrong when I light up my phone and create a blind spot in my neighbor’s eyes. You never know, it might be my kids in an emergency,” or “I was talking about the movie, so it isn’t really disruptive.”
Let’s come to the hard knocks of the situation, you are justifying your bad behavior with weak excuses. The bottom line is you agreed to join a group of people to watch a movie together with the well-known rule that you must remain quiet and undisruptive. Everybody in the theater paid at least $10 to watch the movie, including yourself, dumb-ass. Consider that if a theater is at capacity, you are damaging a collective $2000 investment. How would you like somebody to risk $2000 of your dollars? Well, apparently you’re really shitty with money.
According to the American Psychology Association, there is a plethora of research available proving that rudeness, known in the psyche world as uncivility, actually causes a multitude of problems in society. It’s not just a momentary nuisance, rude behavior in our daily interactions with others causes legitimate psychological damage to individuals and to society as a whole. It’s on the rise too!* See, you uncivil folk are ruining the world.
Face up to the fact that you are doing something wrong and respect the covenant of the movie theater!
Step 2: Simple Solutions to Help You Change Your Ways
Solution #1: Volunteer at a homeless shelter and start to develop a sense of humility.
This exercise will help you become aware of the needs and feelings of others. When you are ladling soup to those less fortunate than yourself, you might develop a sense of compassion and empathy for your fellow human beings. With time, maybe you will take account of the folks sitting around you in a movie theater too. Who knows, you might even grow a sense of humility, imagine that!
Solution #2: Go see a therapist.
Rude behavior stems from ignorance or deep inadequacy issues. You see, you are making everybody hate you because you really just hate yourself. You poor thing, we should all feel bad for you when you blurt out a revealing spoiler in the theater. It’s the only way your broken psyche can empower itself. Either that or you’re stupid. Oh, also, you might just be a psychopath.
Also, pulling out the race card because you happen to be an ethnic person is pure and utter bullshit. It’s your voice piping up in a dark theater that is pissing me off, not your skin color. I shush all races equally, because all theater talkers are assholes no matter where their heritage lies.
Feel free to call up your local psychiatrist and spend some time talking out your issues.
Solution #3: How to be on time to a movie.
Arriving late is one of the most frustrating behaviors in a movie theaters because the opening scene, and sometimes even the opening credits set the mood and tone of the story about to unfold before you. In some instances, the scene before the opening credits gives the audience important information pertinent to understanding the rest of the movie. All that is shat upon, when you and your gaggle of chatty friends arrive late.
Some of you might be rolling your eyes and thinking, “Seriously, setting the mood and tone? What are you, some sort of emo hipster? And what’s the big deal? It’s only a small inconvenience. Just give me a second to get settled and you can resume watching.” If that’s your thought process, I need to refer you back to Step 1. You are still thinking as if you are the center of the world and you are not ready for this lesson, jack-ass. For those of you who feel you are ready, read on for an easy reference on movie theater time management.
I took a moment to add up about how long it takes to buy a ticket, choose a seat, take a quick potty break, buy popcorn/soda, etc. I came up with an average of 45 minutes as a worst case scenario. This creates a super simple rule of thumb equation:
45 minutes + driving time from your location = polite and respectful arrival in theater
See how easy? I used math, you know, like in third grade. So let’s do some word problems, remember those?
Problem A: Sally wants to go see a movie that starts at 9:30 PM. It’s currently 9:00 p.m. and she lives 20 minutes away. Should she try to make it?
Problem B: Bert lives 15 minutes away from his favorite movie theater. It’s 2:00 p.m. He has a choice of three movie showings: 2:25 p.m., 2:45 p.m., or 3:05 p.m. Which one should he purchase tickets for?
Solution A: Sally should stay home and watch Netflix like a decent human being. She could also search another theater or (gasp!) buy a ticket for tomorrow’s screening and coordinate her schedule. Is your selfish mind blown at how easy this is yet???
Solution B: Bert should choose the screening at 3:05 p.m. and maintain his humanity. Angels will smile at his prudence.
Remember that patience is a virtue that is not solely intended for others to practice when dealing with you. Instead, be patient about movie times and show respect for those around you.
Solution #4: Workout
Did you know that it has been proven over and over again that exercise is good for you? It pumps amazing home-grown chemicals through your body that make you a happy person. Your current miserable state would start to diminish with something as simple as taking a daily walk. And let’s not forget to mention that those of you who tap your feet when you are asked to sit still or kick involuntarily, would get the most benefit from this advice. Involuntary movements like obnoxiously tapping your feet indicate anxiety and hidden stress.** Exercise reduces stress and improves your motor skills, thus less tapping. Oh, and if you aren’t aware of this, Tappy McTapperson, your small foot movements actually jiggle the entire aisle. It’s annoying, cease immediately.
Step 3: Know When to Walk Away
I’ll quote Spock and say, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Your desire to see the next Mission Impossible on the big screen when you can’t find a babysitter, is not more important than the other 199 people who are forced to listen to your 10 month old cry. Your need to keep an eye on the phone is not as important either. If your kids need to be able to dial you up at a moment’s notice, don’t go somewhere where the entire establishment reminds you repeatedly to keep your phone dark and put away. Duh, stupid!
The lesson from this step in rehabilitation from your piggish ways, is that there are times in your life or just specific nights, when going to the theater is just not a good idea. It’s not really a social event, in the sense that casual behavior is accepted. Communication only happens before and after. There are rules in place!
And the thing you might be forgetting by flippant rudeness, is that if you just follow those rules, you will also have a better experience! You are distracting yourself from what you paid for! If you just stay quiet and focus your mind on the movie, you can absorb the tapestry and multilayered beauty of an excellent film. To lose yourself in a masterpiece film, is a decadence unto itself. You might not have known this, because until now your head has been wedged up your ass with your text messages and chatting. So give yourself the gift of experiencing a movie to its maximum potential. You’ll be a better person, and probably happier in general.
Thanks for reading,
Diva Del Mar
*That’s Just Rude by By Rebecca A. Clay, American Psychology Association, November 2013, Vol 44, No. 10
**Hidden Signs of Stress and Anxiety by By Amy Przeworski, PhD, Everyday Health, Published May 20, 2014