The Movie Theater: A Handy Guide on How to Avoid Being "that Guy"

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Recently, my best friend and I decided to take a little trip to the movies. We expected to have a fun night out, watching something we’d both wanted to see. What happened was an altogether different experience. Therefore, I’ve decided to put together this little gem:  “The Movie Theater: A Handy Guide on How Not to be ‘That Guy’,” or if you prefer, “Movie Etiquette: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!”

Hey, is that your phone ringing?

I can’t deny it, cell phones are awesome. We can communicate with almost anyone from almost anywhere. It’s a touchstone for the modern age, the assurance that we’re never without the convenience of on the vocal communication, texting, and email. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem. It is constantly with us. You may think it’s no big deal to wip out your phone in the middle of the movie and fire off a thirty minute series of texts, or check your email, or even make a phone call… right. there. in. the. theater, but let me assure you, everyone else would like to dump your phone in a giant tub of fake movie theater butter, and possibly you as well. Your bright screen, constant tapping, and alert tones are distracting and annoying. Please, silence your phone, and put it away. If you can’t sit through a two hour movie without checking your digital best friend a million times, let me assure you that netflix has many fine options for home viewing. If you think you might have an emergency, that’s understandable, but if you have to take the call, leave the theater. Oh, and to clarify, “ZOMG, Darren just totally broke up with Michelle!!!1!” does not constitute an emergency.

Let’s have a chat.

Actually, let’s not, at least not while a hundred other people are trying to hear the dialog on screen. Most people talk in the theater a little bit. It’s not a big deal when you whisper quietly to a friend about the funny scene that caused the entire theater to erupt into laughter, or how you think you know what’s about to happen. However, I don’t want to be able to hear about your hernia operation from six rows away while I’m trying to watch Deathly Hallows. (How dare you interupt my Potter time!) If you want to have a loud, long, drawn-out conversation that doesn’t pretain to the movie, don’t come. We won’t miss you. Actually, if you want to have a loud, long, drawn-out conversation that does pertain to the movie, go to a coffee shop or a bookstore after the film and discuss it there, but really, during the show, give it a rest!

Do you know where your kids are?

Because I sure do. Listen, I get it, you want to take your kids to the movies, that’s great! Kids love movies, and you love your kids… but that doesn’t mean everyone else does. Don’t get me wrong, I like children, and I certainly know that raising them isn’t a task for the faint at heart, but you’re the parent, act like it. Again, I’m not talking to you folks that mind your kids. All of them cry or make a scene from time to time, I understand that. You’re responsible, you let your child know that such behavior isn’t alright when in public, or you quietly take them out of the theater (or other venue) because you’re a conscientious person. Honestly, I have sympathy for you when your child acts up, becuase I know you’re trying your best. Give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it.

However, you guys on the other end of the spectrum, let me enlighten you. It’s never ok for me to suddenly find your child sitting in my lap, crawling over me, or being lifted over my head from behind by a sibling due to the fact that you’re too busy to watch them because you’re tapping out a text and snapping into a slimjim. Also, if your kid is continually screaming/crying/shouting out “WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN?” at the top of their tiny, yet powerful lungs, passively shushing them in between shoveling handfuls of popcorn in your face, doesn’t cut it. Now, just to give you a short list of a few other things your fellow movie goers don’t appreciate: your child constantly kicking the backs of their chairs, your child running up and down the aisles during the film, and your child playing with the loud, light-up toys that you brought for them from home. You’re at the movies, it’s not a play date, it isn’t day care. Besides, I doubt your five year old is really appreciating inception anyway.

Welcome to the buffet.

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never snuck in something from home, a candy bar, a bag of combos, and, alright, once, just once, a one pound tub of gummy worms, but like most of you that have done this, I didn’t make a public production of opening and eating my illicit snack. During the aforementioned trip to the movies with my best friend, there was a family with at least nine children and four or five adults that unbelievably, embodied every single thing I’ve written about thus far. Surely, we thought, they couldn’t possibly do anything else to disturb the rest of the movie, but then, out came a purse, which I’m sure could have doubled as a sleeping bag. In this bag were individual plastic shopping bags filled with a variety of loud, and I’m going to assume sticky treats. Do I have a problem with bringing the kids a snack from home? Nope. Honestly, when the theater charges ten bucks a ticket and twenty for popcorn and a coke, I’m a fan of black market concessions. However, this was a load of junk food worthy of Halloween in Wonka Land. The constant crumple of plastic bags, candy wrappers, and “open this!” rang through the theater like TV static when the cable’s out. At least it wasn’t a bag full of tuna fish sandwiches, but that’s another story for another time…

Have I ever annoyed anyone in a theater or other public venue? Surely, I’m far from perfect, but common courtesy goes a long way, and sadly, it is all too uncommon these days. After all, I’m not even sure what movie I saw that night. The show going on behind me definitely had my full attention.


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