25 January 2009
From the Complaint Department
I hate extraneous and unnecessary noise. In some cases this is a function of my hyper vigilance, as when I'm bothered by someone sniffling, or chewing gum (vulgar habit) or talking outside my house. At other times I am either reacting to people being inconsiderate or to a culture which can't shut up.
Let us take a look at instances of the former as they relate to the movie-going experience.
When I saw Revolutionary Road I wondered if perhaps director Sam Mendes had decided to have numerous unseen characters chomping away on popcorn. This would have been a deviation from Richard Yates' book in which, to the best of my recollection, there was no one eating pop corn.
I eventually realized that the sound of people eating was not in the movie at all but the product of my fellow patrons. I was thereafter mightily distracted. Such a cacophony of munching!
While watching Frost/Nixon someones mobile phone commenced ringing during a climactic scene. The offender did not answer the phone. Nor did this lout turn the bloody thing off. It just rang and rang.
During my viewing of Slumdog Millionaire, several people seated in my vicinity found it necessary to visit the "facilities" during the course of the movie. Really, you haven't learned to hold it yet, or "go" before the movie?
Here are some questions I have: are people so addle-brained that they don't realize that movie theater food is a) bad for you and b) expensive? Don't they consider having a bite to eat immediately preceding or following the film? Maybe if people didn't spend hundreds of dollars on an extra large diet coke just before the movie started they wouldn't need to relieve themselves during the movie.
And seriously now, is it that hard to turn of your f*cking phone before a movie starts?
Ya know what though? I haven't even gotten to the people who are the worst offenders of all, those folks for whom summary executions are in order: I refer of course to the god awful heathens who talk during a movie. You don't want to get me started on those morons....
Next time you go to a movie, have a look around. Do you see what is occupying some of the other seats? Those are other people. You've no right to violate their experience. Ambient noise takes people out of the moment. It is a reminder that we are not actually experiencing the story on the screen. It is an interruption of the reverie that is at the very core of enjoying a film.
Thank God there are places like the Pacific Film Archives which does not allow eating in its theater. Patrons there tend to be serious film aficionados and watch a movie with eyes and ears open and mouth closed. On the rare occasion when someone talks at the PFA they are loudly shushed back to the Stone Age.
That other form of noise to which I alluded is at different type of public venue altogether. I refer to sports events. I have never believed in paranoid theories of worldwide conspiracies by powerful and unseen international forces bent on control of the world. But if someone put forth one regarding this annoyance I'd likely buy it.
Time was that between innings of baseball game or during a time out a basketball game you could turn to your neighbor and talk. No more. The second the action stops the music blares. It's usually inoffensive popular rock music. Also, wherever there is a big screen fans are subjected to contrived games or candid camera-type shows or highlights or short player bios. They tend to be as hard to ignore as a head cold and can be just as annoying.
Is some super secret force trying to keep us sedated? Is it so bad if we have time to talk or heaven forbid, think? Leave us alone already. It's too much and it is everywhere. It's one thing for the pep band to blast away, that's a long standing tradition at high school and college sports, but we really don't need piped in music to boot. Some of us don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or computer or iphone or video game. Many of us have been known to read newspapers and books and to sit at home or a coffee shop and chat. Sometimes we even sit by ourselves and THINK. Something much harder to do wherever there are constant external stimuli.
Noise, noise, everywhere all the time. Oh for a little peace and quiet.
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