Mystery Science Theatre 3000 might have been the worst thing that ever happened to the movie-going experience. For those of you who don’t know, MST3K (as it’s known to geeks like us) was a comedy show where a host and a couple of surly robots watched bad movies and made inappropriate comments from their theater chairs. It’s hilarious, and I appreciate the fact that the concept made some films that were so bad even half bearable.
But there is a more sinister side effect of this phenomenon that we’ve witnessed over the last 20 years since the show’s inception. Over the past few months of my theater-going experiences, I’ve noticed an increased pattern of inappropriate conduct, and I’ve been forced to be the enforcer.
If you’re going to talk or check your cell phone in a movie theater, you need to first determine if it’s appropriate or not. Has the movie started? No? Then you’re good to go. If the movie has started, did someone get up beforehand and give you express permission to behave badly? No? Then you really need to shut your mouth and silence your phone. Otherwise, someone is going report you and have you kicked out of the theater. (Me, most likely.)
I like to think of the movie theater as a sort of church, but with more entertainment and more comprehensible lessons to be learned. We’re expected to be quiet and reverent, and by the end we should have learned something about our world, our behavior and ourselves. How can you learn anything if you’re blabbing to your neighbor, not paying attention?
As many of you know, City Weekly and Big Shiny Robot sponsor the weekly screenings of The Walking Dead at Brewvies Cinema Pub (677 S. 200 West, Salt Lake City, 801-355-5500, Brewvies.com). During our premiere night, I was sitting right behind a group of drunken swine who refused to watch the show and ran their mouths over and over and over again. I took it upon myself to tell them to be quiet. It completely ruined my evening.
A few weeks ago at the Tower Theatre, I saw Billy Wilder’s masterpiece The Apartment and was assaulted by a pair of evil souls—surely going to hell, if there is such a place—who decided they wanted to talk through the entire movie. It got so bad that I shushed them until they left.
Let me assure you: There is nothing you can say that is more important than anything you will learn watching a show like The Walking Dead or a movie like The Apartment. All you’re doing is revealing yourself to be an incredible asshole.
Now, we won’t blame MST3K for all of the rude behavior we see in movie theaters these days. The blame obviously lies with the people who think their tiny little lives are more important than all of the other customers—paying or otherwise—who are there to enjoy the entertainment. I can only think of two situations where pulling out your cell phone or talking are appropriate in a movie theatre, and it’s when they’re specifically encouraged. The first is screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The second is Geek Show Movie Night, which is the last Sunday of every month at Brewvies. Again, in both of these instances, being rude is encouraged.
Nowhere else, at no other time, is it acceptable. Expect to be shushed. Expect to be called a jerk. Expect to be asked to leave. Why? Because if you talk during a movie or a show, you’re the asshole. There’s really no two ways about it. If you want to talk through a movie or a show, stay home and wait for it on DVD.
Geeks of the world: I’m depending on you to call out these rude bastards to shush and shame them wherever possible. If they pull out their cell phone, tell them to put it away. If they talk during a movie, tell them to shut the hell up. The rest of us have your back.
Movie talkers: You’re on notice now. The geeks of the world who read this column are no longer going to tolerate your ass-hattery. You can’t text or talk during the movie. We’re taking back our movie theaters. It ends … tonight!
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.