Cape Fear

Whether it is acceptable or not, we are in an age of entitlement that is souring the basics of common decency. This became very apparent recently when my wife and I spent a rare child-free evening away from home. The group in the room beside ours was clearly getting their “drink on” prior to a night out on the town. Though the 20 or so people were loud and rowdy, with cries of “oh (expletive) we broke the bed” echoing through the walls, since it was still early I figured they were entitled to their fun. After all, they paid for their room too. However, when the partying hit three o’clock in the morning, and my sleep was being impeded on, I hit that crossroads of whether to complain or endure the annoyance further.

The experience quickly brought me back to several outings I have had in the cinema this year. The “I paid for it, so I can do what I want” mentality that was displayed by the party goers next door can be found almost daily in the cinema. The film going experience now seems to include texting, reading Twitter, talking on the phone and bringing young children to movies that are not, in my mind at least, age appropriate. We are in an era were villains are not the perpetrators, but the folks who tap them on the shoulder and politely ask them to put away their phones.

After all, they did pay for their ticket.

So I guess the question becomes what is one entitled to when purchasing a movie ticket? The obvious answer is the guarantee of both seeing the film and having a seat to sit in. However, what one does in their seat is another thing entirely. Somewhere along the line we mistakenly assumed that our $12 ticket entitled us to more. This is evident in when you see those people, who enter the theatre just as the trailers begin, loudly venting their frustration that there are no seats in the middle available. Or the person who feels the need to answer the phone mid-film just so they can inform the person on the other end of the line that they are watching a film.

Now I know there are those who advocate for theatres becoming a more interactive experience. They argue for a change that better represents the multitasking audience of today. In many ways the shift seems to be taking us back to the Restoration era where going to the theatre was a far more social experience. In fact the plays occurring on stage were secondary in most people’s mind during that time.

What bothers me about this, in the context of film, is that it only seems to make the situation worse not better. Why should the whole system change to appease those whose interests are completely selfish? Should the laws of the road change to satisfy drivers who cannot go two minutes without checking their Facebook status on their cell phones? The communal aspect of the cinematic experience is slowly dying. Sure we all sit in the same theatre, but we are becoming lost in our own foolish sense of self-importance. Instead of fighting for a more interactive movie experience, how about fighting for common decency. If there are those who assume they have the right to do whatever they want in their seat, do I also not have a right to a distraction free cinema experience?

After all, I paid for my ticket too.


  1. No arguments here. I’ve been used to going at weird times like 10:00 on a Monday due to the young kids, so it really throws me off when I see a movie with a large audience. The simplest explanation is that it’s a generational thing split by people who grew up going to movies before smart phones. Still, I’m not sure that totally works because plenty of people my age (late 30s) aren’t much better. I’m pessimistic the trends will change in a better direction.

    1. I think smart phones have become so prevalent and addictive, that those in their late 30s are just as guilty, if not more than, teenagers of texting in theatres. The strange thing is that need to “stay connected” is actually making us grow further apart as people. I tend to agree with you that things will probably continue to trend in the wrong direction.

  2. I hate texting in the theaters where I did recount my horrific experience in June where I asked someone to turn off the phone and he refused. He got really upset and I spat at him. I’m not proud of what I did as I got pissed off and just walked out of the theater.

    I really think this is one of the drawbacks of technology as it’s definitely ruined the film-going experience. I noticed during the last 20 minutes of 12 Years a Slave, there was a woman a few rows ahead of me had her phone on and she was texting and I was just upset but I stayed quiet just to finish the film.

    I’m just going to say this and I know people will not be happy about what I say but I just need to say it:

    I don’t care if you paid for your ticket. There’s rules that has to be follow and if you’re not going to follow the rules and respect the rights of the audience. Then get the fuck out of the theater and don’t fucking come back. Oh, and you’re not getting your money back so fuck off!

    1. While I would never justify spitting on someone, it is always better served to complain to theatre management instead, I do understand the frustration of in those situations. It is especially annoying in films like 12 Years a Slave, where so much of the films impact relies on the audience being emotional invested…which only occurs if you are paying close attention.

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