Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Texting in the Theatre

by Pa Rock
Crabby Critic

A couple of years ago when my friend Carla and I spent a week or so in New York City hoping from one Broadway production to another, I sat next to a couple and their teenage daughter during the performance of Wicked.  I remember more about the teenage girl than I do the play - because she spent the entire performance texting on her cell phone.  I kept waiting for one of her parents to grab the phone and throw it onto the stage - or up into the balcony - but they were obviously used to the rudeness of their daughter and able to concentrate on the play.  Pa Rock, however, was not.

Today while surfing the net I came across an opinion piece talking about the use of cell phones in theatres - especially when they are being used for texting - and this rant began to bubble up.  I like to sit up high, usually on the back row, where I don't get bumped and jostled from behind.  The problem with that location is that it also affords me a view of most of the audience - people who tend to fade into oblivion until they take the notion to generate or answer a text message.  The instant they flip open their phones, a beacon of light darts forth and pulls me away from the movie.   There are times when the theatre auditorium twinkles with blue lights like some macabre Christmas display.

Last Friday evening when I was watching Pirates of the Caribbean with a couple of friends, one young lady a couple of rows in front of us tried to be more accommodating.  Instead of sitting in the theater and answering the messages that she was receiving, she would jump up, climb over people, and rush out to the lobby each time her phone buzzed - an action that was annoying on multiple levels!

And occasionally there are still some who attempt to talk on their cell phone during the movie, but audiences have gotten meaner and now tend to hurl insults at those morons.  I do remember one clever lady in Arizona who got up and walked out of No Country for Old Men after her phone rang multiple times.  She walked to the back of the theater, but not outside, where she could still keep up with the movie while she talked - and the entire audience got to listen to every word.

I think the only fair solution to this unmitigated rudeness would be to not allow cell phones in theatres.  And knowing that Americans are inherent rule-breakers, I would suggest that all movie patrons either be thoroughly patted down or walk through a TSA-style body scanner as they enter the auditorium.

Once we get the cell phone situation under control, then we can move on the curse of crying kids.  Maybe a minimum age - something at least in the double digits - would be in order.

And don't even get me started on restaurants!


Don said...

ACtually, the theaters could solve the problem if they wanted to.
Many hospitals have installed buffer devices that make all but their own cell phones inactive.
I have no idea what this costs, but my guess would be that theaters will never retrofit unless we all stand up and scream whenever a cell phone light goes on!!

Anonymous said...

If they did somehow ban or disable cell phones in theaters, the first time someone had an emergency and the babysitter/kids/grandparents couldn't get into contact and that somehow worsened the problem... vicious litigation would ensue. Don't forget what century we're living in.

As Patrick Swayze said in Roadhouse. "It will get worse before it gets better." May we all live to see it.