Cinema Etiquette

Normally you see a film in a cinema to revel in the atmosphere of the darkness, and an audience: you’re a coalition of the willing. I’ve seen Brick twice now, and the first instance boasted the kind of audience that you want: quiet and attentive. The second Brick did not go so well: I went on a Saturday night, not a normal movie night for me and, about fifteen minutes in, there came a gaggle of teenagers. They helped to make this film boast the actively worst audience ever; not just an annoying audience like that which had rendered the already interminable mess that was Wedding Crashers even more excruciating.
These teenagers came into the film and they talked. I hate coming late to a film, and Brick is one where you really can’t afford to miss the first minutes. They didn’t whisper quietly like one might do when trying to figure out what was going on.

For them, it was a cotillion. They came in and out of the cinema with alarming frequency, with some of them coming and going as many as three times. They chose to use the theatre as a reunion ground, standing up and stepping over each other so that they could hug and say something along the lines of “omigod how have you been omigod omigod” or some crap. I’m making up that dialogue, but it was probably as vapid as all of that.
As my friend Liz and I stepped out of the cinema, the culprits were standing around the stairs. One of them was heard to remark “That was a waste of time”. Yes it was, my friend, but the subject of our thoughts may have been different indeed. Don’t come to the most subterranean of George Street’s cinema screens for an extended social gathering. It’s not a good idea.

Now this may not have been as inappropriate as when I came out of Sophie Scholl: The Final Days and one of my friends chose to say “Heil Hitler!”, but it was still bad. I’ve generally got nothing against teenagers, having only left that era myself, but the vapid ones do no favours for the rest of them.

So, I ask that you remember the golden rules:

    Golden Rules of Movie Etiquette

  • Do not talk loudly during the movie, about things that have nothing to do with the movie.
  • Do not laugh at climactic moments of a film.
  • Turn your phone to silent. Some people will be more anal about this than I, but I think moderate use of SMS technology is acceptable during a film.
  • Do not stand up at any point in the movie to hug someone who has just entered the theatre, thus obscuring the view of anyone unfortunate enough to be in front of you.
  • Eat the meat of the carrot.
  • North for Pig Skin, South for Duck Skin.
    Movies at which it is appropriate to shout “Heil Hitler!” at the conclusion

  • Der Fuehrer’s Face (everyone of foreign race/will love der Fuehrer’s face/when we bring to the world dis-order!)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (if only because your face will melt and you’ll deserve it)
  • The Producers (I, for one, never knew that the Third Reich … meant Germany!)
  • Pretty much any Mel Brooks film, really.

Making a list is arbitrary and risks being dogmatic, but I’m not that fussed about it; almost all of those rules are just common sense.

At the cinema, listen to your heart and you’ll probably hear it telling you not to be a jerk and spoil the experience for your comrades in celluloid. They won’t thank you for it, but they also won’t get onto the internet to admonish you for it.

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