By Sarah Sluis
At some point a few years ago, people in movie theatres finally remembered to silence their phones before the show. Hearing a phone ring during a movie became a thing of the past. But that auditory assault has been replaced with something far more nefarious. Light pollution. Most people keep their phones on vibrate nowadays because they're checking their phones every hour anyways, and using their phones more for texts and emails. That means I now see people whipping out their smart phones and fiddling with them nearly every time I watch a movie. Can't it wait, people? I actually remember seeing the guide to my friend's new cell phone in 2003 or so, back when texting was a new thing, and it had a whole section on how to text in movie theatres. I blame the attitude behind that guide, in part, for unleashing the Pandora's Box of texting and emailing during movies.
Turns out I'm not the only one who can't stand the disrespectfulness of other people during movies. An IFC blogger created a movie etiquette manifesto with a link to an online petition. Turning off cell phones comes in at #2. Some of his other complaints including babies at R-rated movies, smelly outside food, and talkers. He also has some pretty specific rules for space buffing. Don't sit in front of or next to a stranger at a less-than-full show, and don't pretend to save seats for people at a fuller show. With stadium seating the standard nowadays, I haven't had a problem with people sitting in front of me for a long time. That's one thing I can cross off my list of annoyances.
With the creation of the petition, the blogger seems to be going for a viral distribution in the style of the Alamo Drafthouse texter, but that YouTube video will be hard to beat. What I would like to see would be a guerilla video of a confrontation between an old lady smoking an e-cigarette (which lights up with each puff) and the commenter Geraldo V, who pointed out that she was also kicking her legs back on the seat in front of her and talking on her cell phone. I haven't heard of light pollution from an e-cigarette before, but with cigarette smoking on the decline, I have hope that this won't turn into the next movie theatre annoyance.