In the movie Annie (1982), Annie, Grace and Daddy Warbucks are preparing for an outing to the movies. They are seen changing into their finest clothes and are greeted at the theater doors with uniformed ushers in white gloves declaring, “Welcome to this grand illusion. All of it’s yours right through these doors!”
It seems the illusion has lost some of its grandeur lately mostly because the patrons have lost their manners. Perhaps a brush-up on proper movie etiquette is in order. Of course, an equally grand illusion is the idea that this article will overwhelmingly improve the habits of today’s movie-goers – but it’s a start.
The Atlanta Movie Examiner has assembled the top 10 Movie No-No’s. These are based on actual events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
::: PERSONAL COMMUNICATION :::
10. NO Jibber-Jabber: Starting with the most obvious, who can stand to hear anyone talking during the film? Don’t Talk! Leave the conversation in the lobby. Nobody paid to hear yours. Before we leave this topic too quickly, there are several sneaky talkers that can’t go unpunished. Missy What’d-I-Miss: You left to go potty. It’s your loss. Nobody needs to hear your husband recap the last 20 minutes in a ROAR of a whisper. Rusty Reviewer: Your opinions of the actors, their off-screen exploits, their filmography, and their most recent flop are best left for the ride home. Barry Back-Talker: The people on the screen are not really able to hear you coach them through the haunted house. Leave the inner dialogue on the INNER!
9. NO Mobile-Jabber: Slightly more annoying than a conversation between two people in a movie is a conversation between one person and a piece of plastic with a battery in it. If you simply must hear about Ashley’s new shirt she just bought on clearance at Old Navy – please head to the door.
8. NO Thumb-Wrestling: Last in the trifecta of cursed communication during movies, is texting. When one sees the blue horizon four rows down front accompanied by a flurry of thumb activity, it’s quite a distraction from the giant screen just beyond. One has to wonder how well that phone would work from the bottom of my 32 oz. $8 cup of Coke Zero!
::: PERSONAL SPACE :::
7. NO Land Claims: Perhaps this isn’t that big of a problem at the 2PM show on a Thursday. But on a Friday night, let’s be nice and sit tight. Man-space is not a right – it’s a privilege so don’t make anyone ask you to have the good sense to sit closer so more people can sit together.
6. NO Double-Parking: Perhaps the Ying to the “Land Claim” Yang is when the theater is virtually empty but the only other person sits right next to you. Do you need a friend that badly?
::: PERSONAL CONDUCT :::
5. NO Tonsil-Hockey: Believe it or not, there are people in the theater who did not buy a ticket to watch you two make-out. Helping her get a popcorn hull from between her two back molars with only the use of your tongue is quite a talent but please take care of it without the paying audience.
4. NO Flying Popcorn: One has to wonder why popcorn is the only food that is completely acceptable for a human to eat like a monkey… until it falls in your neighbor’s lap… or his hair in front…or down her shirt … DON’T GO IN AFTER IT! (See #5). Please keep your food in your own space.
::: PERSONAL HYGENE :::
3. NO, It’s Not Smell-O-Vision: This rule is most often violated at the midnight opening to a comic book adaptation. Who knows why geeks and deodorant don’t mix. Iron Man fans, meet Old Spice Man! Perhaps they should make it available at the concession stand.
2. NO Shoes, No Service: In theaters with stadium seating, it’s not uncommon to see people slide their feet through the arm rests of the empty seats of the row in front of them. It’s not too big of a problem unless it’s a student wearing flip flops and they’ve elected to unflip their flops. Not only does the sight of your dirty bare feet make it difficult to enjoy the buttered popcorn, the smells of both are far too similar! (see #3)
::: PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY :::
1. NO Nursery Provided: It never ceases to amaze when a couple comes in to see The Hills Have Eyes or Saw IV and they’ve got a 3 year old in tow! Not only will the child undoubtedly be disruptive when it cries out in terror while Freddy is slaying someone on the screen – you can’t afford enough therapy sessions to straighten that kid out! Use some sense. Take the kids to the Pixar movies where disruption is all part of the experience.
Feel free to pass this list on to the movie-lovers in your life. Perhaps with enough signatures it could be ratified into law. And by the way, feel free to comment with your Movie Etiquette horror stories!
Jon Graham is the Atlanta Movie Examiner for dampfang.com. Subscribe to his posts by clicking on the subscribe button above.