Saturday, September 06, 2008


Sitting in an audience of older folks (most of them no doubt bought senior tickets) and middle-aged couples or 2 middle-aged women while watching a French film makes me feel like I've just given money to NPR. Can anyone confirm if I'm getting a tote bag?

I've come to dread this particular demographic in a theater more than a gaggle of rambunctious text-messaging teens. Teens are necessarily self-centered and have to posture at all times or they will suffer the consequences of exile. I can't excuse their behavior, but I understand it. However, the people in this NPR sort of crowd have the bleary-eyed look of breeders with assortments of 2.5 kids and have no doubt had to teach their children movie manners at some point or other. And, yet, they sit there, whispering to one another as loudly as they can, trying to be heard over the horrifying din of something other than themselves. Their comments echo about the theater, but because they've made an attempt to whisper, they believe they are invisible to all. Do they forget? Are they bad parents?

The most common thing heard in this crowd is "what's going on?" or "is that the same guy from before who bought the car..." Such things fill me with an inappropriate rage, as it is the very same impulse to instantly quash all mystery that favors the cheap and easy to digest over a challenging experience. Worse than the confused, though, is the barely-together middle-aged couple who have lost all interest in one another and are at the movies to have some semblance of a shared experience. As they joke about the movies and how these things remind them of their kids, trying to ask them to be quiet is seen as an affront to their marriage. They will circle the wagons against such an onslaught and wonder how you could possibly be so bothered.

I realize that I'm fighting a losing battle here, and yet I must do what I can to beat back the tide. I blame stadium seating most of all; people lose the notion that they are not one, but pieces of a unified whole. However, it is not just this technological innovation to blame. I saw Juno in an old-school theater and suffered through a non-ceasing babble from a horrid, horrid woman. I believe she feared that she would die if she didn't stop talking, and so treated my left ear to a recitation of J.K. Simmons' filmography and her judgement of the wisdom and likability of the characters onscreen. I leaned back and pleaded to her in a whispery voice, "Please stop talking," but she persisted. As a pacifist, I don't know what to do when people, asked nicely, refuse to consider the needs of others. Luckily, I'm also a trained passive aggressor, and I simply started repeating things she said loudly. At one point, she asked her seat mate, "Did that guy just say what I said?"

This may have been the only moment of introspection in her life. But she soon went back to babbling, and I got a nasty look from the woman sitting in front of me. As I tried to whisper my plan to her, she simply looked embarrassed for me and punched me in the face. As a result, I thought Juno was overrated.

NOTE: There is a big difference between having discussions with your seat mate and laughing at funny things or expressing surprise at a plot twist or cheering an action scene. Don't try to nail me on that technicality.


Matt Eppright said...

I suppose this is why I now own a 720p projector and surround system. I just couldn't take it anymore.

And yes I agree, Juno was overrated.

John Dedeke said...

That's what you get for whispering in my ear. Were you TRYING to blow my cover?