Why is visiting the cinema now met with dread?
Not so long ago, in a time before the Internet and Sky Movies came and ruined everything, people used to visit the cinema in their droves, treating a visit out to their local theatre as an event. We would all go out as a group of friends/family, turn up early, purchase tickets, buy a bag of sweets or a Capri-Sun from the old woman in the booth and then find a suitable seat, all well before the adverts started rolling. But now people are treating cinemas like an oversized living room; sauntering in 30 mins after the title card, sitting back, putting their feet up up eating their dinner whilst Transformers rolls before them. Why is this? Why have we changed so much that we think this behaviour is acceptable?
I grew up in the 1980s, and the cinema was where I spent a lot of my time. My mum would palm us off on to our creepy “uncle” (not even close to being even remotely related) so she could get some household stuff done without us getting in her way. Our local cinema was The Broadway in Letchworth and although at the time it was a bit run down, it was for all intents and purposes a theatre, and the screen was the stage. It had one screen with a circle and stalls, a proper refreshments kiosk manned by one person, a box office which punched out paper tickets like you’d just won a prize at a funfair and a very grand lobby, decorated with framed original posters from various films throughout the decades. Once in there, we sat down and and shut up.
As with everything, there were a few kids who would ruin it for everyone else, but generally speaking, most people refrained from lobbing popcorn from the circle down to the stall below.
Unless you wanted to wait what seemed like a lifetime before the Britannia Video Club stocked it in one of their ” 5 videos for £10″ deals, Blockbuster (or the video man – we all had one, right?) was pretty much the only option for viewing films at home. We were one of those families who somehow had a Sky subscription, but back then there was Sky Movies and The Movie Channel and both were SHOCKING. If you wanted more recent films, you rented. There was no internet, so pirate films were made by some guy with a VHS Camcorder who somehow thought a tripod wasn’t necessary. Recent releases meant a visit to the cinema.
But, then everything changed. Not just technology, but we as people also changed. Our attitudes have been altered, and what came out of that was a sense of entitlement which can’t be reasoned with. We somehow turned into ARSEHOLES in less than 20 years.
I used to love going to see films and, to be honest, I would still love it if it wasn’t for the attitude of most people I encounter at the cinema:
- Tardiness – you turn up late and you think that’s fine. It’s NOT FINE. The time is shown online. It’s shown on your ticket. Turn up for then. I understand that trailers and adverts now run for what seems like forever, but everyone should be seated by the time the BBFC card flashes up. Any later, and you’ll sit on the far left/right and damn well like it. I will not move for you. You entering late may be fine for you, but you’ve disturbed everyone and you should be ashamed.
- Food – Eat before you get there. You are NOT entitled to eat a picnic as you watch the film. This is not on. I don’t know why you do it. Have a snack in the trailers if you’re peckish and need to bridge a gap. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT sit next to me eating HOT PORK. It reeks. Go away. When did eating your dinner at the cinema become acceptable? IT IS NOT. Cinema chains are constantly adding things to their menu to keep you coming in and they’re wrong. Don’t give in to them. Do not eat sacks of crisps.
- SHUT THE FUCK UP. Seriously, what is it that that you need to talk about that can’t wait until the end of the movie? You don’t need to explain what’s happening to the person next to you. They should be paying attention. If they’re not, ask them to leave so you can watch it in peace.
- Turn your phone off and put it away. Like, properly away. This isn’t a just a noise thing. People seem to think that as long as it’s on silent, you can still check Facebook and it won’t bother anyone. HOW WRONG YOU ARE. Sit in a pitch black room and turn your phone on. Now put that glowing brick on the other side of the room and face the other way. The room is no longer pitch black. Do dead pixels bother you on TVs and monitors? YOU ARE A MASSIVE DEAD PIXEL. Light pollution is high up on my list of things I will get violent for. And it’s not like you even bothered to turn your brightness down. …And then it’s off. And then back on. And then off. But what if someone texts me? *checks phone again*… This is you. I hate you. WAIT TWO HOURS. If you can’t live without social media/texting for that long, don’t go to the cinema. Go and see someone who specialises in addiction instead. If you think that someone important might need to get hold of you, I’m not sure why you’ve holed yourself up in a dark room full of strangers for 120 minutes. If you *must*, set your phone so that it only vibrates when a certain person is calling. Then, leave the theatre and check your phone. Otherwise, just turn it off.
- Shoes. Shoes must stay on your feet at all times. Shoes with feet in them must stay DOWN. This isn’t your house. Don’t put your shoes up on someone else’s furniture. It’s just rude, and some people don’t like feet that may have stood at dog shit at some point anywhere near their face. No one sat there? Don’t care. Someone at the next screening may sit there. Fecal particles hover, my friend. Swipe your desk at work and see how much shit you’ve gathered. And I repeat: IT’S RUDE. KEEP YOUR FEET DOWN.
I like to call of this Living Room Syndrome. We’ve been getting away with this and that for so long, that we just push the boundaries until everything’s the way we want it and screw the consequences. Cinema chains have to keep costs down and prices high to pay for the films they show. Sadly, ushers were the first to go. This is like watching a film when your parents have gone out for the evening. Feet up on the sofa, pizza, turn the volume up. No one will ever know. Ushers didn’t do much, but if you stepped out of line, they’d ask you to stop. They’d tell you, and you’d obey. Not through fear, but through respect. Like petulant children, we push buttons to see what they do. If nothing happens we push it again. And then maybe push another one. We get away with tiny things like this until we press the wrong one and then dinner’s ruined and we’ve all learned a very valuable lesson. Except now we have the situation where cinemas seem to be validating our behaviour, because they fear that if they impose rules, people won’t come.
Take the Cinime app. As soon as this was released, I groaned. *Encouraging* people to use phones in the screen for *prizes*?! Yes, you tell us to only use it during the adverts, but do you think people listen? I’d be happier if you lined the walls in lead and blocked all mobile signal from entering the building.
Then there’s the food. Sweets and drinks have *always* been there. I remember when my local Odeon stopped selling bags of sweets and only sold them in those cupboard pots. I can’t figure out why that situation was reversed. BRING BACK CARDBOARD. Same goes for popcorn. It should be served in boxes, not bags. Here’s the thing though… Hot food. As I pointed out earlier, Cinemas seem to be encouraging us to eat more. I get it, you need revenue, but Hot Dogs and Nachos? One stinks to high heaven and the other just creates noise and mess. There needs to be rules. There needs to be a stopping point. The more they provide us with, the more we’ll eat. We won’t take it upon ourselves to say “Oh, these are really smelly, let’s eat them outside before the film starts.” NEVER. GONNA. HAPPEN. Oh, and there should be a limit to how much of your own food you bring in. Since when did you think it was okay to take two family-sized platters of M&S sushi into a film (actual story)???
Why is all of this fine? Why do you think that because you own an Unlimited card that you’re entitled to do whatever the hell you want and ask ME to move when you’re the one creating the disturbance? WWWHHHHYYYYYYYYY? Why does you spending money for something mean that you can get away with being a dick? “I paid a tenner to see this, I’ll do what I want” seems to be the mindset of quite a lot of people these days and it needs to stop. It will only stop if cinemas impose rules and stick to them.
We’ve pushed the buttons and instead of feeding us the burnt remains of what’s left of dinner, you’ve rustled up something else for us to dine on.