Movie theater etiquette–this guy didn’t have it

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Saturday night a friend and I went to the movies. I won’t say which movie it was, but I can tell you that watching it without distraction was an impossible mission.

For one thing, this obnoxious man sat in the seat right next to me. The theater wasn’t that full, and I’m not that cute, even in a darkened room. What happened to the leave-a-seat-between-strangers rule?

On the other side of him was a middle-school aged boy, whom I assume was his son. THREE times during the movie, he asked his son if he was enjoying the movie. If I’d been that kid, I would have said, “Well, I’d like it more if you’d let me watch it!”

Mind you, he turned away from me to speak to his son, yet I could hear him clearly. Why?

Because he spoke at full volume! In a theater!

“Wow! A movie theater! I’ve only heard about these. Isn’t this amazing? Can everyone hear me? You in the front? Great! What about the back row? Yes? Okay!”

Then he would make random comments for everyone to hear, and not even helpful insightful ones. The screen showed a bunch of bank accounts and the amounts each held. The man said, “Money!”

Yeah, thanks buddy. It was hard to see that since the screen is only the size of a sky scraper lying down!

Then there was a, uh, timer, we’ll say (no spoilers to the movie I’ve been so careful not to tell you the title of) that showed… Why don’t I let him tell you, in case you’re a blind person who enjoys movie going: “Three minutes!”

“In case you weren’t sure, that’s a three.”

Oh! I don’t understand what numbers are! Thanks so much for the clarification!

He also found it necessary to crack all ten knuckles no less than FOUR times during the two hour time period.

And at another point he leaned forward, elbows on knees, and began clapping. Not like, cheering for the good guys clapping, just putting his hands together loudly at random, non-rhythmic intervals. On that front I felt even worse for the person sitting in front of him who had to endure loud clapping in her ears.

I also felt bad for my friend because, though she noticed and was also distracted by the random Captain Obvious statements and the clapping, I found myself hitting or grabbing her arm nearly every time he did something else that annoyed me. I’m sorry, but misery loves company, and I needed to hit someone or something!

What else distracted me was contemplating telling him–once the movie was fully over–that he seriously lacked movie theater etiquette. Of course, I’m too much of a wimp to actually say any of the things that I really wanted to say to him, or to say anything at all, for that matter, despite the good my pointing out his faults would be to movie-goers everywhere. It would have been a public service announcement, but I don’t do confrontation. I just griped about him behind his back, of course, and now publicly on-line!

My friend thought perhaps he had some mental incapacity. I can’t believe I find myself actually hoping he does, but I hate to think a normal person is really that clueless or rude.

How about you, readers? Have you ever experienced this at the theater or elsewhere? Or, have you seen any good movies lately? Not giving away what I saw, I hear Mission Impossible was good, depending on whom you’re sitting next to.

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28 responses »

  1. Based on what you wrote, I wondered too if he was developmentally delayed. If so, he’s excused. If not, grrr. It’s so unpleasant when people talk or use their phone during a movie. It’s miserable for everyone. And think of how embarrassed the boy with him must have been!

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  2. That I the most obnoxious behavior! It’s really hard to even understand what people are thinking when they do these things! It totally distracts you from the movie and if you’re like me, it becomes all you can focus on! I hope you had a good laugh about it later….i mean clapping!? Come on!

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  3. I may be way off, but taking a stab from your description, I think he was looking for an excuse to get out of there. He was hoping his child would say he was NOT enjoying the show. Failing that, he was hoping you’d complain so he could give his son some lame excuse for them to leave. The clapping & the remarks about the obvious all suggest boredom, a desire to get on w things.

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  4. People are so much ruder than before. So many don’t turn off their phones, and others carry on conversations with the people around them. I only enjoyed that behavior in Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s rude in real life, people!

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  5. Ugh Betsy what a bummer! I hardly go to the movies so I would hate it if that happened to me. We spend big bucks to enjoy a movie! That’s so terrible he sat right next to you. What the heck?

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  6. I don’t think the long-term trend has been towards more audience passivity in movie houses, though. I’m old enough to have been a movie-goer near the end of the era when double features were still common, home air conditioning was uncommon, and people spent long periods in the movie theater less interested in what was happening on the screen than today. (I’m not old enough to have gone to the serials, though!) And yet people had TV in their living room & hence were used to sitting with family & commenting on the shows.

    Under those conditions, typical audience behavior was more disruptive than what people are used to today. We would ignore posted or advertised start times (there was no MovieFone or Internet to conveniently look them up if we cared, although they’d be in fine print in newspaper ads), and arrive whenever was convenient. No multiplex, so it was one house that usually was more full than today, which meant that as people arrived, they’d have to get past others in the seat rows in the dark. Then we’d see that feature, the other feature, maybe a short too, and leave at the point we had come in at in the showing of the feature we’d 1st come in at, because showings would loop continuously. (We’d mentally resequentialize the action for that one afterward. Mysteries with revelations at the end were less popular by this practice.) And if we were in a group, we’d comment during the show to our friends as we did for TV shows; frequently that’d be during one feature that we’d be making fun of that we were sitting thru to see the other feature. MST3K is a re-creation of that atmosphere.

    The only thing we didn’t have was any kind of mobile phone or pager.

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  7. My bet is that he was mentally disabled. Outbursts can be random and uncontrollable. I worked in a group home for about 5 yrs or so and one of the things was to teach them how to adapt and live in the world. I had higher functional adults but one lady did not know how to whisper or just did not care to. I understand the need to help mentally challenge adapt but and there is a big but…is it better for them to be an embarrassment to themselves and those around them or is it better for them to stay home and learn other things. Because some mental disabilities you can not cure nor teach on ways to behave. I have worked with both. And truthfully sometimes it is better for the individual not to put them in a stressful situation no matter how much the pc crowd thinks it is the right thing to do. They obviously have never worked these individuals. Sorry you spent your hard earned money only to have the movie ruined for you.

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  8. I have made a general sound of “Shh-h-h!” towards the area of the noisy and rude, talking and noisemaking people. I have hurried to the ticket seller or refreshment stand to ask for someone (used to be movie “ushers”) to talk to or ask persons to move or leave. Depends on how disruptive people have been. 🙂

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