Using Your Phone During a Movie Is the Moral Equivalent of Attempted Murder Plea-Bargained Down to Assault in the Second Degree

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03/11/2010 2:05 PM |


I can’t really stand going to movies anymore. People straight-up don’t know how to act, sending texts or checking email throughout (those mothlight-glowing blue screens in between your eyes and the screen you want to be looking at), not only leaving their phones on but actually answering them, and talking, talking, god, so much talking, none of it remotely interesting or edifying.

When I saw Shutter Island (at BAM, even), I moved rather than endure the couple behind me’s conversation, which ran, pretty intensely, for nearly the entire movie. You’d say something, but for shaming to work people would have to have any idea they were doing anything wrong—instead they’ll just roll their eyes at you like you’re some kind of contemptible snob or pansy.

In Lancaster, California two weeks ago, a guy did speak up when a woman sitting near him talked on her cell during Shutter Island. She and her two male companions left the theater; then the two dudes returned to the theater, and stabbed the man in the neck with a meat thermometer.

A melee broke out, because, you know, Shutter Island, madness in the air.

One Comment

  • These incidents — the talking and cell use, I mean, not the stabbing, at least so far — are still erratic enough that I like to think it’s more a case of 25% or so of the population behaving *really* poorly, rather than new standards (or lack thereof). Certainly that brings the average down, but I’ve been surprised recently at some of the opening-weekend crowds that were hardly annoying at all. I think it helps to go to the Ziegfeld and/or the 68th St IMAX, where you can at least pretend that maybe a lot of the audience is there because they’re thinking about where they want to see a particular movie.

    The stabbing thing is kind of perfect, though: the people who *are* answering their cells during the movie will fully consider *you* the awful one if you tell them to quit it. What I’ve found elusive in all of these manners-are-going-to-hell stories is some kind of even-keeled interview with someone who answers their phone during a movie. I’d love to sit down with such a person and say, OK, why do you *not* think this is rude? Not even in a (completely) stand-offish way — I am honestly curious about what the possible justification could be. Problem is, apparently this line of questioning opens you up to stabbing.

    Finally: I remember reading a few years ago about a guy who got stabbed in a Massachusetts movie theater for talking on his cell (not for telling someone to shush). And I thought at the time, OK, I’m definitely not in favor of stabbing people, but if I *was* going to stab someone….