I have always loved going to the movies. And more and more I hate going to the movie theater.
What happened to the movie theater as a haven, a refuge from the problems of the outside world? These days going to the movies is a more stressful experience than real life.
That’s not the way it should be. And it needs to stop.
That is why I wrote this blog post and the accompanying petition that you can find at PetitionOnline.com. Read it, and if you agree with me, please sign it. Will it change anything? Probably not. But this has been driving me crazy for months. I have to do something. If you see a movie with me, I can promise you that I, at least, will be following these rules. And if you see a movie with me and you don’t follow these rules, I might give you a piece of my mind.
We, the undersigned, in order to improve the moviegoing experience for all theater patrons, pledge to:
1. Shut Our Mouths. Talking is permitted up to and including the trailers (we, the undersigned, also pledge to make fun of anyone who shushes people for talking over the MovieTickets.com ad). After that, we will be quiet. Valid exceptions: midnight movies and any film starring Nicolas Cage.
2. Turn Off Our Cell Phones When the Movie Starts. And on the off-chance we have a job that requires us to leave our phone on, we, the undersigned, pledge to sit in the back row of the theater so no one behind us is disturbed when we check it (please note: fantasy football manager does not qualify as a job that demands you leave your phone on).
3. Never Bring a Baby To An R-Rated Movie. Do you know why your baby is crying? Because it’s 10:30 at night and you’re forcing it to watch a man with knives for fingers use a naked woman as a whetstone.
4. Never Bring Loud, Stinky Food Into the Theater. This is the rule about outside food: nothing crunchy, nothing smelly. The worst possible thing you can bring to a movie (besides, y’know, a weapon) is Chinese takeout. People who bring Chinese takeout in crackly plastic containers should receive one warning. A second violation gets you a lifetime ban.
5. Sit Directly In Front of Someone Only When There Are No Other Seats Available. Only a-holes sit directly in front of someone they don’t know just because they “like” that seat.
6. Leave a Buffer Seat Between Ourselves and Strangers Whenever Possible. Only psychopaths sit immediately next to a stranger when they can sit somewhere else. True story: one time a guy sat down directly next to we, the undersigned, in a theater with dozens of empty seats. He wore his sunglasses through the entire film and occasionally turned and stared at we for minutes at a time. We, the undersigned, promise never to be that guy.
7. Never Put Our Crap On a Seat And Pretend We’re Holding It For Someone Just So No One Sits Next To Us. Genuine seat saving is totally acceptable. Fake seat saving so you have extra space to stretch out is a dick move.
8. Throw Our Garbage On the Floor. The movie theater is the only public space in the world where it is socially acceptable to act like a pig. That is the way it has always been, that is the way it always shall be. We, the undersigned, vow that no matter how many times multiplexes include “Please Throw Away Your Trash” messages in their pre-show entertainment, we will continue to ignore them.
8a. (In Moderation.) We, the undersigned, do enjoy being pigs, and tend to think a clean auditorium is the responsibility of the theater staff, not the customers. But we, the undersigned, also recognize that it’s hypocritical to expect others to change their bad habits and not change our own. So we, the undersigned, will moderate our mess (and, really, if you needed someone to tell you not to pour Coke on the floor of a movie theater, maybe movie theater etiquette isn’t your biggest problem). We, the undersigned, will clean up after ourselves as a concession, with the understanding that movie theater owners have just as much to fix as movie theatergoers, and they should expect their own manifesto/petition in the future. (NOTE: PetitionOnline doesn’t permit after-the-fact changes, so byrule 8a will not appear there.)
We, The Undersigned, People Who Truly Love Going to the Movies