All of my adult life I’d assumed and followed what I believed to be an unspoken code of conduct for attending movies. What we could call a “communal etiquette.” But, as our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, it’s safe to say that the expectations for movie behavior are changing.
As a die-hard movie traditionalist, when asked if there’s an appropriate time to text during a movie, my watered-down response — neglecting the sure to be present expletives and insults — would sound similar to: “Never, are you crazy?”
However, this past week as I checked out “That Awkward Moment” (Sidenote: the film was just as terrible as I’d predicted it would be) I found myself whipping out my iPhone to send out a perfectly executed 140-character insult via Twitter. Right as I pressed send the realization dawned on me: I’ve become one of the moviegoer personalities I hate the most.
The way that I see it there are four main types of bad movie goer personalities. They can be broken down as follows: People who talk or ask questions instead of just paying attention themselves, children (sorry that I’m really not sorry), people who chew popcorn during carefully scripted silence and last, but certainly not least, cellphone users.
I’d say that of these four categories, cell phone users would be the biggest pet peeve for everyone — or are they?
Maybe in the past this theory would’ve been plausible. When texting became popular it would’ve been in the era of the Motorola Razr. At the time they were high quality and the envy of everyone who didn’t own one. Looking back, those phones were ugly, cheap and, most important, loud. To have someone clickity-clacking away on a 14 word text message via a T9 keyboard would’ve been a movie mood killer. Maybe they weren’t talking out loud, but the 10-minute keyboard induced hail storm was even worse.
Luckily, 2007 rolled around and the iPhone was introduced. In the words of some wise old-timer who I’ve never actually had the pleasure of meeting but everyone seems to quote: “The times, they are a-changin’.”
We now live in a world of smart phones with adjustable screen brightness and inverting, touch screen keyboards and the ever useful “Do Not Disturb” feature, which I like to think was designed especially for movies (and sometimes napping).
So while some might say movie texters are distracting and rude, I’d have to respectfully disagree.
As someone who has finally taken the first step and admitted they have a problem, I would like to speak in defense of my fellow movie cellphone users.
It’s not as if we are having full blown texting conversations. Instead, we’re using our phones to review the movies with our immediate thoughts and reactions rather than waiting until after and forgetting entirely. Have you heard of the live tweet? More people should utilize it, seriously. I personally enjoy shazam-ing songs from the soundtracks to download them. Occasionally if I see a preview of a movie I want to see, I’ll write down the name in a note or set a reminder to look it up.
Cell phone screens are dimmed and the usage happens concealed in a purse or under the cover of a hand. Overall, it’s a silent practice that isn’t directly affecting anyone. Sure, there are exceptions to this generalized statement, but when aren’t there?
Because no one is making moves to greatly enforce the no texting and no phone use policy, the only other option is to let everyone do it rather than punish the few who do suffer the wrath of an angry manager — who probably isn’t innocent of texting during movies himself.
To me it comes down to this: Everyone’s doing it anyway, so let’s stop pretending that it can be controlled and just let everyone enjoy the movie as best as they can. It’s 2014, and cell phones won’t be going anywhere any time soon.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @mikayrodr