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Movie theater etiquette is dead

Opinion Columnist

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 13:11

You can finally breathe a sigh of a relief. It’s over. Election Day has come and gone. Birds are chirping again, the sun is shining and all is well with the world. We survived. Give yourself a pat on the back.

But now that we’ve got that whole presidential fiasco sorted out, we can focus on the issues that really matter. And make no mistake, America is under attack. You just don’t know it.

We are under siege by a group of sick, twisted individuals who look, walk and talk like us, but do not behave like well-mannered, respectable human beings. And they’re hitting us where it hurts the most: the movie theater.

These uncivilized people walk into a movie theater and act like it’s their living room – pulling their cell phones out to text every five minutes, carrying on conversations with their cronies and generally showing no regard for the sacred moviegoing experience of the people around them.

These people make me sick.

I’ve talked about a number of different things in this column over the past couple months. I’ve discussed college, politics, athletics, careers and civil rights, and those are all well and good, but what I’m really passionate about are movies. I know that, for some of you, movies may seem trivial compared to those other topics, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one.

Movies do matter, whether you want to admit it or not. Otherwise we wouldn’t waste our time and hard-earned money going to see them.

We all go for different reasons. Some go to be challenged, others to be entertained and even to laugh or cry. More than anything, we go to escape. For two hours, we can step out of our lives and into another world and be captivated by the story on the screen.

Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to view going to the movie theater as an experience. The smell of buttered popcorn in the air, the torturous exercise of trying to pick the perfect seat, that moment when the lights begin to dim as the show starts – all things that I just can’t do without.

Sure, you have to practically take out a loan to pay for the ticket and concessions, but it’s all worth it.

Movies can brighten your day, make you contemplate and consider important questions about yourself and force you to confront your deepest emotions. Movies are a form of art and, like any other art form, the possibilities of what can be done are endless and unimaginable.

Yet few members of modern audiences seem to appreciate the power of film. We go to the theater, but we forget to check the real world at the door.

Instead, we bring it in with us. We check our phones, we talk to our friends and we sometimes even take naps. The action on the screen is little more than background noise to us.

I might sound like a grumpy old codger getting bent out of shape over a bunch of meddling teens, but I just can’t help but long for the days when going to the movie theater was a special occasion, not just a way to kill a few hours and supplant boredom.

But the problem isn’t just limited to what goes on in the theater. Most of us are making poor decisions at the box office, before we even have a chance to decide what size of popcorn we want.

We are putting down cash for less than standard fare like “Battleship,” “Paranormal Activity 4” and “Madea’s Witness Protection,” and not thinking twice about what we’re contributing to.

And I don’t want to hear that you think Hollywood is running out of ideas. They’re not. We’re just giving them the wrong ones. We are inundated with sequels, remakes and reboots because that is what sells. We pay to see garbage, so the studios are naturally going to fund more garbage.

The film industry has lost a lot of its luster over the years, and the blame falls to us.

There are good, quality films out there that can’t even get a nationwide theatrical release because it doesn’t appeal to your casual moviegoer, who no doubt finds comfort in one of the brainless action orgies that Michael Bay puts out every couple years or the artificial sentimentality of the latest Nicholas Sparks rom-com.

We are paying to see dumb movies and we are acting dumb when we sit down to watch them.

Some of you will dismiss me as a pretentious movie snob and say that there is nothing wrong with seeing “Transformers 3” three times in theaters. You’re right; there is nothing wrong with that. I just wish you’d give something more original and challenging a chance. Just once. You might be surprised.

And stop kicking the seat of the person in front of you. It’s rude.

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