Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie Theatres

Though I do not posess much (read: anything) in the way of faith or religion, that lacking has never precluded me from giving due respect to a higher power.

That power is imagination (and it is precisely that power that gave birth to all other deities, but that's a topic for another time), and I have always preferred to honor its presence in the medium of film.

The movie theatre has long been my temple, and the rituals that I have abided in my weekly sojourns have as much rote as as Midnight Mass.

So it is with much regret (and pain) that I find my temple desecrated - it's once bright sheen now tarnished with the mire and misery.

I can let slide the ever-rising ticket prices. I'll even forgive the outrageous concession stand costs (I typically spend twice as much on snacks as I do on the price of admission, and never have I felt that the food prices were justified).

But the people. Oh the people. I cannot forgive them.

First of all, we are all there for the same reason, aren't we? We all paid the high prices to get in the door, didn't we? When then are you distracting my movie-watching experience by text-messaging your friends for the entire duration of the film?

My last excursion to the theatre (a dismal experience to say the least) was on Valentine's Day. I normally loathe Valentine's Day (another topic for another time), and this year I was given no reason to change that stance: As the lights dimmed and the movie began, the patron directly behind me loudly announce to his female friend how "so drunk!" he was. A short time into the film, the young lady to my right (who had politely asked my wife and I if we could shift down one seat to make room for her boyfriend) answered a phone call and proceeded with a whispered conversation for no less than 10 minutes. (You might ask why I didn't say something - apparently she was whispering only loud enough to be heard by those on either side of her...that is, her boyfriend and ME. My frustrated glares were apparently not being received correctly, but speaking out against her ghastly behaviour would only have disturbed others around us, and I don't want to contribute to the problem). Half way through the film, the girl directly behind my wife (presumably the companion of the guy who was "so drunk") threw up into her popcorn bag.

If I came to your church drunk, talked on my cell phone through ten minutes of the sermon and then threw up, I would likely be arrested.

And yet people come to the movie theatre (MY church) and get away with this sort of behaviour with alarming regularity.

With the rising prices making these excursions to the theatre more and more a luxury, I can't believe how utterly disrespectful the other patrons continue to be. And it seems to be getting worse.

There was a time when movie theatres showed no commercials. We listened to soft music until the lights went down and the curtains went up (the curtains!) and after a couple of previews the movie began. There were no cell phones to disrupt the show. No affordable laser pens to flash across the screen. Now, those days are long behind us.

Had I the means to do so (that is, the finances), I would open my own movie theatre. There would be a strict dress code - formal wear. There would be no advertising, save for the trailers preceeding the show proper. Concession costs would be well below ticket prices. Cell phones and similar electronic devices would not be permitted. And there would be curtains.

In this perfect theatre, all the patrons would respect the night out.

They would come, watch, enjoy and leave.

It would be everything I could hope for.

And I would owe it all to excluding just about everyone.

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