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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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« happy holidays | Main | more LOTR »

movie audiences: a rant

snow branch

(Update 10:43 a.m.: I've finally updated My Life In A Nutshell. :-))

Despite the deceptive serenity of the picture above, today's Blathering is another rant, so feel free to skip it. Also, Luisa and Reid have more LOTR line party pics online, if you'd like to check them out. I especially like this one of us playing cards in line.

The focus of today's Blather-rant is

Obnoxious Movie Crowd Behaviour

Is it my imagination, or have manners in public movie theaters degraded over the past decade?

Last night, Allison, Jodi and I went to the Elgin Mills theatre to see Lord of the Rings. Unfortunately the reel of film was slightly damaged...vertical scratches could be seen several times throughout the movie, the sound was defective in places (cut in and out), and there was an annoying fleck that appeared near the top of the screen for 80% of the movie. Not sure if these last two irritants were the fault of the copy of the film itself, or the equipment used by the theatre.

Even the above could have been ignored if it wasn't for the behaviour of some of the audience members in the theatre. Several groups talked or whispered loudly throughout the movie (and I mean throughout the movie), knocked over cups and (what sounded like) large bags of popcorn, didn't bother trying to close theatre door quietly as they went in and out during the movie...nothing like the sound of a door slamming to pull one out of the magic of Middle Earth. Didn't sound like there was any sort of cushioning-type of hinges on these doors.

A group of teenage girls almost directly behind us were especially irritating, whispering and giggling to each other throughout the movie, even in the most moving scenes. I fumed but tried to ignore them - I've found that in the past, it hasn't helped...sometimes it's actually made things worse. I briefly considered moving, but realized I'd end up causing more distraction to others by having to clamber over them in the dark, looking for an empty seat. Allison couldn't stand it anymore during one point and told them to shush. They actually DID shush...for about fifteen minutes.

When one of them loudly whispered, "This movie is TOO LONG!" during one of the most moving scenes, I felt like turning around and dumping her popcorn on her head. But I didn't, because I don't do that sort of thing (not yet, anyway) and also because at that point there was only about ten minutes left in the movie. Others were shushed as well, with the same effect. Sometimes the shushers made more noise than the original offenders.

Maybe it's age, but I don't remember theater audiences being as bad as this when I was a teenager (and lord knows THAT was eons ago ;-)). It's one reason I'm willing to brave long line-ups in order to see a much-anticipated movie on opening day rather than wait until the crowds have died down...avid fans are much more attentive, and also tend to unite in jumping on any obnoxious audience behaviour. Just before yesterday's noon showing of LOTR began, someone's cellphone rang...if this had happened during the actual movie, I doubt he would have left the theater in one piece.

My theory is that with the invention of video and DVDs, people are much more used to watching movies in the casual atmosphere of their homes, where chatting and other distractions are the norm rather than the exception. Some carry these habits into the movie theatre (which becomes just a larger version of their living rooms). Kids tend to be worse in this behaviour because they've never KNOWN a time when you had to go the movie theater in order to see a full commercial-free movie. (And nowadays, even the movies come with commercials in the pre-show, which probably helps solidify the association of the theatre with the experience of watching tv at home, at least in their minds).

Geez, I do sound like a miserable old curmudgeon, don't I?

Maybe I should go have some eggnog or stand under mistletoe or something.

On a positive note, I got to see the trailer for Spiderman (which looks pretty cool) and Star Wars (I liked the trailer better on the big screen than I did after downloading it to my computer).

On an even more positive note, our nieces Annie and Sara are sleeping over tonight!! This will be Annie's first time spending a night away from her parents.

Today's Poll:

If people in the row behind you were doing something distracting throughout the movie (talking, crunching popcorn too loudly, whatever), would you say something, or just try to ignore them? YES for saying something, NO for ignoring them. Feel free to elaborate in Blatherchat.

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