There’s a sea change afoot in how Americans discover and consume entertainment. That’s the finding of an exclusive poll by market research firm Penn Schoen Berland for The Hollywood Reporter.
“Social media is the connective tissue that enables consumers to multitask during their entertainment experiences by connecting with others and sharing their opinions,” notes pollster Jon Penn of the findings, based on a survey of 750 social network users ages 13 to 49. And film moguls, take note: The poll found that a majority of 18-to-34-year-olds believe using social media while watching a movie in a theater would add to their experience, and nearly half would be interested in going to theaters that allowed texting and web surfing.
“Millennials want their public moviegoing experience to replicate their own private media experiences,” says Penn.“Having dedicated social-media-friendly seats, or even entire theaters, can make the moviegoing experience more relevant and enjoyable for them.”
Is there nothing sacred? Does everything have to involve being connected to social media at all times? Is it really that offensive to give yourself over to a story for a whole two hours without commenting on it with your social network?
I know, I know, I sound like an old fart. But God knows, I’m on the damn computer, iPad or iPhone countless hours every day, I know how critical we think it is to be downloading, uploading, or otherwise-loading.
I get it: Social media is like methadone, an acceptable form of addiction.
But in a movie theater, doesn’t it make sense to kick the habit for that brief respite? I thought the whole point was to be transported out of this world and into the story world. How can you do that if you’re texting or calling people in THIS world?
You may think it adds something to your movie-going experience, but how can it not detract from your movie-immersion experience?
Please, would some of you 18 to 34 year-olds explain this to me?
For more of the article, go here.
So this open letter to the worst human being to ever sit in a theater is making the rounds:
It started before the lights went down, but to be fair, I was actually betting that the woman on the other side of me, the one who dragged out a giant knitting project and who spent twenty minutes talking about how she snuck her cell phone into the theater because “nobody’s going to tell me I can’t use my phone if I want to,” was going to be the nightmare. And while much of what poured out of the awful hole in the front of her skull made me wish I’d been born deaf, she at least grasped the general idea that when the lights went down, it was time for her to be quiet. She put away her knitting needles. She watched the movie. And she was perfectly fine.
You, on the other hand, took the opportunity when the lights went down to begin a running narration that only occasionally actually had anything to do with what was onscreen. As the 20th Century Fox logo came up, you mentioned to your companion, “You know, I like Fox. I like that they give us unlimited concessions.” I only wish you had availed yourself of more of them so that you had less time with an empty mouth. Unfortunately, two pieces of pizza, a pretzel, a large popcorn, ice cream, and the diet soda you were so proud of did not manage to keep your maw busy for the full two hours. And that was a shame.
Now, here’s where I need your help. I need to know how you would have wanted me to handle things differently tonight. Because I thought all three attempts I made to ask you to perhaps take it down a decibel or two were polite and well-mannered. I have this bizarre tendency to treat people with a modicum of respect even when they don’t deserve it, because I am aware that I am a 6’2″ guy and that I look like a mental patient when I’m angry. It rarely works out when I approach someone with my dander up, because I seem to activate the flight-or-fight response in people. I went out of my way to be courteous when I asked you to please stop talking. All three times.
Here’s where things sort of fell apart. All three times, your response was to lean away from me as if I had just started throwing up in your ear. You ignored me, and you refused to even look at me. You stopped speaking for a combined total of maybe 20 seconds, and then immediately went back to it.
When you go to a movie theater and you treat it like it’s your living room, sharing every horrifying spasm of that flaccid muscle occupying space between your eyes, you have to understand that it is intolerable. I suspect you made a choice tonight that your enjoyment was more important than the enjoyment of anyone else in that theater, and that you routinely make that same choice. I don’t believe anyone is as horrible as this woman was without being firmly aware of it. So I’m asking… on the record… how do we handle this differently next time?
Last year I posted something asking why GITS readers thought movie ticket sales were down. The responses ranged from “crappy movies” to “too expensive” to “prefer watching at home.” But there were a surprising number of “obnoxious moviegoers” in the list as well.
So I was wondering what if we shared our worst experiences in a movie theater, specifically with patrons who crushed our viewing pleasure. This could give you a chance to blow off some steam, but also perhaps generate some awareness karma to filter out to the general populace.
It really is a problem. My time is limited, as is yours no doubt. So when I go to a theater, I want to allow myself to go into the movie as fully as possible. Distractions like phone-texting or loud conversations can break that thin strand of connection we develop between our consciousness and the movie universe. And for fans of movies like each of us, it can be a severe bummer.
How to deal with it? I take the direct approach. I ask them to please be quiet out of consideration for the rest of us. If they persist, I go get the manager.
How about you? What have been your worst movie theater experiences? How have you handled people who were ruining the movie for you and other patrons?
You may remember this post I did back in June about the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater in Austin, Texas which instituted a “if you text, we will throw you out” policy. Check it to hear an irate VM from a young woman who had seen her texting derriere deposited outside the theater’s premises.
That’s the frame for this video from Jason Reitman and Patton Oswalt, who obviously had an afternoon free while shootig Young Adult to do this parody:
The V.O. from Patton is a word-for-word transcription of the original young woman’s VM.
A movie theater is not your damn living room! When you go to a movie theater and the lights go down, watch the movie! Thank you!