We’ve all been in this situation. You’ve bought your movie ticket, drinks and snacks and have just found your seat after awkwardly shuffling past people who think sucking in their gut and moving their knees slightly gives you easier access.
It doesn’t matter too much at first, because this is a movie you’ve been dying to see ever since first watching the previews. It’s that movie you love, about that thing you like, starring the person you lust after or secretly wish to be.
You look to your right and left as people also find their seats, and listen to others rustling through their assorted treats and chatting away with their friends, lovers and family.
Everyone is content and, for the most part, relaxed. Cinemas are happy places, full of widescreen wonder. The cinema goes dark and most of this hubbub dies down; that inexplicable faint smell of urine lingers in the air that everyone pretends to ignore. Your excitement peaks as the opening credits start. It’s time to quietly enjoy the movie, right?
Wrong. There’s someone near you, still chatting away on their phone about how they got so drunk on the weekend; or maybe they’ve got their feet draped over your seat, with the kind of body stench that could qualify as biological warfare and you’re left to weep silent tears as your auditory and olfactory senses are assaulted.
Haven’t you ever wanted to teach these people a lesson? Legally, of course. Last year, in the Prince Charles Cinema in London, they have genuinely hired people in black morphsuits to sneak up on offending parties to scare and teach them a lesson in cinema etiquette.
Why isn’t this commonplace in all cinemas? Certainly this is a worthy cause.
If not morphsuits, surely there can be other nefarious contraptions or ploys that we could muster to deter such heinous offences. Maybe an annoying-sensor spotlight can shine down upon them, like an angelic light of burgeoning disdain and judgment.
Or even better, whenever someone has been talking loudly for more than a minute, perhaps their seat can give way as the obnoxious culprit gets whooshed through a tube and back to the lobby where they must stay in cinema jail – along with loud eaters and people who wear crocs – forced to watch Mariah Carey’s Glitter until the movie is over.
Something simply must be done. I’m considering taking matters into my own hand and becoming the nameless shadow that everyone knows and whispers to each other about in both fear and aroused admiration.
No longer will the rogue vigilante be seen on the big screen; he will be lurking in the dark across the sticky and popcorn-infested floors while glaring his disapproval, waiting to scar these horrible individuals for life with something they cannot erase from their memory (like a shirtless picture of myself or lengthy tales of my childhood). You don’t want that, do you?
Apparently good manners and common decency went flying out the window in some magical unknown time that no one is ever sure about. But I digress. It’s simply not that hard to make the movie experience pleasant for everyone else. All it takes is a little consideration, silence and retracting your bear-clawed feet.
If you have any more creative suggestions, you might find me lurking near the back of a cinema near you, waiting to pounce at the first sound of rustling chips or chirping mobile phones.
This column was originally published in mX (May 30, 2013).