But I usually do it anyway. Without procrastination. What’s the alternative? Sitting there gritting your teeth while you’re jerked out of the story you paid to see and into the much-less-interesting story of the two swine behind you? For me it’s more dangerous to ignore it. If I let it go for say, half the movie, then I’m going to be a lot madder and more prone to saying something intemperate when I finally do turn around.
Of course, if I pick up signals of active gang membership or aggressive intoxication, then discretion rules the day. I’ll go to another seat or get my money back and spend the drive home fantasizing about annihilating certain cretins with a rocket launcher. Fortunately, that almost never happens. For starters, I usually pick movies that are unlikely to appeal to thugs. And I try to attend weekday matinees.
At The Descendants the other day, though, it was a Saturday. The theater was pretty packed. During one sensitive scene, the couple behind us started talking in normal conversational tones about something completely unrelated to the film. Their electric bill or something. Down near the front, a guy flipped open his cell phone and appeared to be checking his e-mail. I started tensing up. I don’t know about you, but a tiny glowing screen has a way of distracting from the much bigger one. And witless dialog from behind has a way of completely overriding the mood so carefully crafted by the director.
So I asked them, also in a conversational tone, if they’d not talk during the movie. They didn’t shut up instantly — saving face, of course — but finally did fall silent. I waited for a large diet Pepsi to be poured down my back, but none was forthcoming. I wasn’t confronted as the credits rolled, or attacked on my way to the car. So all in all, it was another small victory for civility.
But it always makes me wonder: Why does anybody have to be asked to shut the hell up during a movie? Why do people drop $40 at a theater when they can sit at home and fiddle with their stinking phones for free? I wonder why I did – on balance, it’s a lot more relaxing to wait for Netflix to make it available on my oversized LG, in the no-swine zone that is our TV room.
And finally, I sometimes wonder if we’re all the same species.