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Talking at the Movies, Cultural Hegemony, and Menswear Blogging
August 8, 2013 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter's own Anil Dash defends talking in movies. Metafilter's own Jesse Thorn agrees, and extends the point to the world of menswear blogging.
posted by bzbb (348 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is an inapt comparison. If I wear clothes that don't fit in someone else's cultural tradition it's not going to disturb the wearing of their own clothes. Not so if I talk over a movie so they can't hear it.
posted by grouse at 4:19 PM on August 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


If you want to text and tweet and talk and whateverthefuck these people want to do while watching a movie, there is an awesome option! It's called "watching it in your home".

Do these arguments extend to concerts and live performances? Because I'm pretty sure the behavior he described will (rightly) get you smacked in your goddamn face.
posted by lattiboy at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2013 [30 favorites]


It's his string of sarcasm and insults that convinces me!
posted by mrnutty at 4:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [38 favorites]


‏@Glinner
Agree that people should be able to use iphones in a special cinema. But the cinema should be on a boat. And then we should sink the boat

That.
posted by edd at 4:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [52 favorites]


Dash's post is hella dumb, and so obviously contrarian and attention-seeking that it's almost painful to read. No one argued that people can't cheer at action movies. But carrying on a conversation, or waving around the equivalent of a bright flashlight, is just rude.

Turn your phone off and shut up.
posted by eugenen at 4:22 PM on August 8, 2013 [57 favorites]


This whole discussion was started by Hunter Walk in his post, "Reinvent the Movie Theater", which currently has over 450 comments, and which prompted a follow-up from Hunter soon after.

Actor Elijah Wood also chipped in, and engaged in a little dialogue with Walk.
posted by aedison at 4:22 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it's sort of gross that he uses phrases like "recognize your own privilege" and "your bullying hasn’t worked" to rail against...people who want others to be quiet in movie theaters.
posted by lalex at 4:22 PM on August 8, 2013 [74 favorites]


Guys come on put the phone down for a second. Maybe try it for an entire evening. I promised the world won't end.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:23 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


People who have fun at the movies can make almost any movie better.

Only Rocky Horror and Casablanca.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:23 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


*bites tongue*

*biiiiites toooongue*

OH I SUPPOSE MOVIES SHOULD HAVE A PROFESSIONAL WHITE BACKGROUND
posted by cortex at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2013 [75 favorites]


Also, In Defense of Movie Shushers.
posted by lalex at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2013


Interestingly, the response from many creative people, who usually otherwise see themselves as progressive and liberal, has been a textbook case of cultural conservatism.

False dichotomy, and a novel usage of "cultural conservatism."

Being progressive does not mean you have to engage in rude behavior that disturbs other people in order to preserve your progressive cred, and acting like an adult in a public space by refraining from unnecessarily disturbing other people does not make you any kind of conservative, cultural or otherwise.
posted by rtha at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


i'm sorry anil i still love you
posted by cortex at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is How Indians Watch a Movie in Theatre Mankatha Movie is interesting. I think that the cinema culture is very different in India, that movie theaters are more social place and not necessarily where you collectively yet solitarily consume movies like you do in most Western countries.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


aedison, I think you meant your second link ("Reinvent the Movie Theater") to go here.
posted by mrnutty at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Key & Peele
posted by neroli at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Anil Dash and the Strawmen of Doom
posted by johngumbo at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Depends on both the movie and the type of crowd noise. Like, I saw Grindhouse in a tiny old East Vancouver theater and that shit was like being at a rowdy houseparty, spontaneous cheering, I think every person in the theatre had smuggled in beer and people would randomly stand and clink bottles when a particularly gruesome death happened. The kids two rows behind me had somehow brought a four foot bong into the theater. Best movie going experience I've ever had!

But, talking about sports scores over the Godfather? Fuck off. Go watch sports.
posted by mannequito at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


Talking in movies is the premise of one of my favorite TV shows. However, if I wanted to watch the movie without riffing, I probably could. In the theater, a lot of people are there for the movie, not your amateur night comic response to it.
posted by JHarris at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


This list of responses pops up all the time, whether it’s for arguing why women should not wear pants, or defending slavery, or trying to preserve a single meaning for the word “ironic”, or fighting marriage equality, or claiming rap isn’t “real” music, or in any other time when social conservatives want to be oppressive assholes to other people.

Stopped reading after that. I guess I'm a textbook case of cultural conservatism.
posted by Brocktoon at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anil Dash and the Crass Crusade
posted by grouse at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is wrong with the Anil Dashes of the world that they can't shut the fuck up for 2 hours and enjoy something?
posted by basicchannel at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2013 [40 favorites]


mrnutty, thanks for catching that. I wish I'd noticed it myself, and before the edit window closed.
posted by aedison at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2013


It's worth remembering that even in New York, the cup you get your coca cola in is easily large enough to contain several mobile phones. Drink a little of the coca cola first, so it doesn't spill too much when you dump the phones in.
posted by Grangousier at 4:30 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's two fucking hours out of your week. You can't shut the hell up for two hours? I've paid fifteen dollars to watch shit blow up in 3D on a giant IMAX screen, not to watch the blue glow of you tweeting that the guy behind you won't stop shushing you.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 PM on August 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


The Adventures of Anil Dash Getting More Attention
posted by grouse at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


I like to imagine people who do that sort of thing as thinking 'I enjoy the sound of my own voice so much that I would feel guilty and selfish if I didn't share it with everyone else! All the time!' Pretending it's ludicrous self-regard wrapped in magnanimity makes it easier for me to deal with and get past than recognizing it for the selfish fuckheaderey that it is.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Poor people and brown people are more likely to expect a lively atmosphere.

You have got to be fucking kidding me man. Jesse Thorn, you are a fucking idiot.
posted by basicchannel at 4:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


People who have fun at the movies can make almost any movie better. When the first Transformers movie came out, one of the key moments in the film is the first time the leader of the Autobots transforms in grand fashion from tractor trailer to giant robot, and pronounces “I am Optimus Prime”. At that precise moment, the guy next to me, a grown man in his early 30s, rose to his feet and shouted “YEAH!” while punching his fist in the air. I could see from his sheer emotion that he’d been waiting for this day, to hear this voice say those words, since the moment his stepdad walked out on his mother. This was catharsis. This was truly cinematic.

Okay, sure. Not sure anyone is arguing against that.

When I saw Jiro Dreams of Sushi in a theater with only a handful of others in the audience, there was considerably less of that kind of dramatic response, but I liked that film very much as well. It’s fine for there to be movies that encourage quiet contemplation, too. If someone had pulled out a phone during the screening, it wouldn’t have bothered me at all. Maybe someone did, and I didn’t notice.

I'd notice. And it's not even remotely the same thing as cheering or clapping or whatever.

Stay the fuck home, Anil.
posted by Artw at 4:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


This list of responses pops up all the time, whether it’s for arguing why women should not wear pants, or defending slavery, or trying to preserve a single meaning for the word “ironic”, or fighting marriage equality, or claiming rap isn’t “real” music, or in any other time when social conservatives want to be oppressive assholes to other people.

OK, this is truly gross. Unlike people who are black, gay, or female, people who want to text at movies are not a historically oppressed group. They're just fucking obnoxious.
posted by lalex at 4:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [45 favorites]


Of course this is a matter of context. And what's obviously attention-seeking about his piece is the conspicuous lack of context (despite the social-justice veneer).

I've been to movies with cheering, drunken, hooting louts and it was a lot of fun (Matrix 3 in Madrid, Road Warrior festival in Providence, etc.). And I've been to contemplative films in a hushed theater that totally felt like a temple (Salt Men of Tibet, Follow Me Home; both when they premiered in Seattle).

Movies are not movies are not movies. Apples and oranges and limes. Etcetera.
posted by jammy at 4:33 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


He writes like someone who only sees movies of which Armond White approves.
posted by adipocere at 4:34 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Look when everyone agrees to be raucous it's great. When your lily white "quiet" expectations clash with a Poor Brown Person™'s expectations please allow your classist and racial guilt to stop you from enjoying yourself.

I'm sorry, this is all too much. I have caught the trolling for pageviews vapors! To the fainting couch!
posted by basicchannel at 4:36 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Being silent in movie theaters is just a cultural norm, not some self-evidently Correct thing to do: TRUE.

Therefore nobody should be bothered if someone talks in a movie theater: FALSE.

My hearing is fine, but it goes all to pieces when there are several conversations going on at once; and I find the bright light of cell phones unbearably distracting. That doesn't mean that other people are wrong for talking or texting, but it does mean that I probably won't be able to enjoy a movie showing when people are doing so.

So why NOT make an implicit cultural norm explicit, and explicitly recognize that there are different movie-going cultures in play? Why not have both talking-and-texting-OK showings and turn-off-your-phone showings? Or talking-and-texting-OK theaters and turn-off-your-phone theaters?
posted by Jeanne at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


My very-not-rich, gay, POC self does not yammer or text during movies. I suppose I should now do so because I am not white and rich? I cannot even with this.
posted by komlord at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


There’s literally no one who’s ever texted in a movie theater who has said “Every other person in here must text someone, right now!” Because that would be insane.

I just like that part.
posted by oulipian at 4:40 PM on August 8, 2013


There's a place where you can watch movies and talk all you want.

It's called your living room.
posted by evil otto at 4:40 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Pretty much every Anil Dash FPP goes like this. The dude's an A-level troll.
posted by stopgap at 4:43 PM on August 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


I have been known to snark at movies in theatres and I have not received any complaints, so it's good that threads like this exist to let me know I'm history's greatest monster.
posted by ckape at 4:43 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Something about writing on the internet that will not age well. Writing for a temporally limited audience? Knowledge that it will be swept under a rug in a week? What is it? So much zazz.
posted by Teakettle at 4:43 PM on August 8, 2013


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by sourcequench at 4:45 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Shorter Anil Dash: How dare you expect to get what you paid for?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:46 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anil Dash and the Philosopher's Phone
posted by grouse at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, and, look. There's actually some weird shitty racism and classism that does rear its head in how some folks talk about the issue of rowdy theatergoers. That's worth looking at, and Anil is not remotely off his rocker for going there.

I don't think that's the same thing as this specific rant being wholly defensible—there's more than privilege-laden cultural conservatism behind the idea that it's nice sometimes to see an (especially quieter or more atmospheric or slowburn) film in a theater context without being super fucking distracted by other movie-goeers—but it is complicated, and I think people let what makes sense in some contexts (like, seriously, stfu or get out, this is a 70mm reissue of 2001, why on earth are you shouting at the screen motherfucker) and extending that in a lazy or petty way to contexts where it's reasonably goddam precious (it's GIANT ROBOTS FIGHTING GIANT MONSTERS, of course people can yell shit at the screen, what is your level of expectation here?).

I dunno. Bloggin' provocatively seems kinda silly to me, but he's not coming from nowhere even if I don't really agree with how well the map resembles the territory in the piece as a whole.
posted by cortex at 4:49 PM on August 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sadly, I've promised on MetaFilter to be nicer to both Anil and Jesse, so I feel it would be rude to break that promise and dump on them both. So I will point out what I like instead.

I like that Jesse recognizes the "hegemony" of traditional fashion, and that his own guidelines on what to wear and how to wear it is, in a sense, both elitist and oppressive.

I also like the fonts used on both web sites, and feel that they each create a pleasant aesthetic and comfortable reading environment, and are warm and comfortable on a hot day. Their writing portions were generous.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:49 PM on August 8, 2013 [69 favorites]


The menswear analogy only works if you're talking about clothes that say emit a high pitched whine and have flashing strobe lights attached.
posted by kmz at 4:54 PM on August 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Also, I hope that one day I have a prestigious blog, so that I can be part of the chain of "MetaFilter's Own" bloggers that gets to respond to things. And every time, regardless of subject or context, my response will be that gif of a cat smacking a baby in the face.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do these arguments extend to concerts and live performances? Because I'm pretty sure the behavior he described will (rightly) get you smacked in your goddamn face.


That's gotta hurt!
posted by orme at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2013


"(This is similar to the fussy people who don’t like smoking who can never just say they're annoyed by it, they always have to say they’re allergic to it. Every time. You know why I don't like your smoking? Because it's fucking dumb and terrible.)"

Well thanks for trivializing my issues in the cause of trivializing the preferences of people who get super distracted by people talking, checking their phones, and whatnot in a movie. I am allergic to cigarette smoke, if you start smoking upwind of me I'm gonna start having my sinuses fill up with tons of fresh gooey snot and have a really shitty time for a while after you put out the thing. But then again I am also adult enough to politely arrange to get the smoker downwind. And most smokers are adult enough to go outside to do it anyway.

Seriously if I wanna go see a movie, yeah, I don't want someone talking behind me for the whole damn thing, that is rude. I don't care how people in India behave in a movie theatre in India, I'm from a culture where people are expected to mostly STFU at a movie, and if people from India are gonna come watch movies in a theatre here, they can STFU or go start up a theatre where people are expected and encouraged to talk over the film. Or they can just only attend the kiddie matinees where you expect lots of distractions from kids asking their parents why the man on the screen just did something and kicking your seat because kids have too much energy to sit still for two hours. Leave the adult viewing times to the adults.

And oh god I cannot believe I just wrote something that can be read as saying "all Indian people are children", never mind "if they're gonna come to America they can act like Americans". Bleah.
posted by egypturnash at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Of course there should be talking in movies. You want we should be back in the Charlie Chaplin days?

Wait, talking in the movie theatre? Oh. No, don't do that.

Would anti-shushers allow commenters to interject in the middle of their blog posts instead of at the end?
posted by ODiV at 5:01 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hi! I've never even had my phone turned on during a movie, let alone texted or talked during one. But hey.

Here's a simple, non-inflammatory statement of my argument:

* There are people who see going to movies as a reverent experience, with expectations of essentially zero light and sound being emitted except from the film.
* There are people who see going to the moves as being a bit more like going to a sporting event, where people sometimes respond more vociferously, or even share social experiences like talking to their neighbor or tweeting about it to friends.
* There's a third group, people who are genuinely disruptive to those watching the film.

The first group thinks the second two groups are the same. The second group probably comprises the majority of the filmgoing public in America, and certainly comprises most of the filmgoing public around the world. The third group are not really relevant to this discussion as everyone agrees their behavior is bad.

The first group feels theirs is the only possible valid behavior in a theater. The second group thinks either its behavior or the first group's is fine.

My premise: There's no inherent moral superiority to either the first or second group, only a set of cultural norms as defined by the respective groups, which have very little overlap. Group one includes more aesthetes and cineastes and privleged rich white people, and group two includes more people of color or people of lower socioeconomic class, or those who see movies as entertainment more than art.

Group two does nothing to try to stop group one from existing. Group one is in denial that group two is growing, and instead of trying to find a separate peace, or negotiate any compromise, is doubling down on the idea that theirs is the only possible valid behavior.

I think people who think their way is the only right way are generally wrong. The leader of group one, Tim League of Alamo Drafthouse, won't even concede that maybe there should be Quiet Car screenings and non-quiet screenings; he's a fundamentalist who believes there can only be quiet and everyone else should, I don't know, just conform because his is the only valid opinion.

Most of the people who are responding are in group one, and their argument consists largely of "because I said so". That I'm not cowed by this is seen as me being uppity and has engendered a phenomenal amount of very amusing condescension.
posted by anildash at 5:03 PM on August 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


Metafilter: Turn your phone off and shut up.
posted by pmv at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This all kind of sprung up around a post from Hunter Walk, and it's been interesting to watch it explode on Twitter ever since. The overwhelming majority of feedback on it was that Hunter was off his rocker, but as much as I hate people talking at movies, there are certain films that are just fine if that took place. I look up actors on IMDB more often than not when I'm watching something at home.

I've seen a lot of the big summer films this year, and two things stood out to me: Fast & Furious 6 and Pacific Rim were so crazy nuts fluff action entertainment that I wished I could break out my phone and crack jokes about every other scene on Twitter. I was writing and trying to remember jokes that I could tweet immediately after Pacific Rim. I never pulled my phone out for fear of the shushers, but I would gladly sign on to a screening where lights slightly up, phones out was expected and allowed, but only for goofball movies like those. I'm also a big fan of serious documentaries, and I like theaters for that dark and silent.

Movie theaters have been in a transition period for the last decade, for just a couple grand you can get a huge HD television and 5-7 speaker sound at home that rivals theater equipment from maybe 20 years ago. The window between theatrical release and home release is ever shortening, and it's getting tougher for people to justify the $20/person costs of going to a movie and getting a drink or popcorn. I'd welcome experiments like this to see if making goofy movies more like your living room would make it easier and more enjoyable to attend.
posted by mathowie at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Do these arguments extend to concerts and live performances?

Depends on the type of show, I guess. Every concert I've been to in years has been at a club or bar and yes, people talk there. Sometimes they even yell, or sing along.

I think some of this is going to apply to the type of movies you're going to see, and where. I am not bothered by someone, as Anil Dash writes, shouting "YEAH!" as Optimus Prime is introduced. These sorts of movies are loud and dumb and fun and it's OK in my opinion. But that's not really OK in every movie.

What is always kind of annoying in a movie is people are just having a full-on conversation not even remotely related to the movie. Take it outside.
posted by Hoopo at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think after he defended talking during movies, maybe we should stop calling him "MeFi's own Anil Dash". It'll give us a bad reputation.

But seriously, I don't think anyone is arguing for SILENCE in the movies, like Anil's strawman points out. If you're REACTING to what's on the screen, it makes the movie better for everyone. Laughter at good lines, gasps of horror in horror movies - those improve the movie. The Transformers' fan he talks about is another example.

I saw Pacific Rim, and there were people making unfunny heckles behind me. That was annoying. But people saying "YES!" and "FUCK YES!" during the 'Sword' scene improved it. And I loved watching the packed premire of The World's End where people clapped during fun moments.

But all those are about engaging further with the movie. Those moments occur when people are so engaged with what's happening on the screen that they involuntarily react to it. Its a communal experiance that's the opossite of checking your phone or heckling.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:06 PM on August 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


Yeah, to Matt's point, we're clearly a few years away from having Quiet Car theaters (Alamo) and connected theaters. The vocal minority who sent me death threats & prank calls today think this development can be stopped, amusingly, by shouting it down.
posted by anildash at 5:07 PM on August 8, 2013


Anil, Your groups don't exist. I expect a reasonable amount of audience feedback. You know... laughter, gasping... the occasional cheering. I also expect you to put your phone away and not have an on-going conversation with your neighbor. Also, nobody's adding to the movie by injecting their own jokes... probably because they're not a professional writer or filmmaker.

If you've never been to a stand-up comedy show, try sitting relatively near the stage and use your phone the whole time. See what happens to you. It will have nothing to do with your skin pigment or cultural "norms."
posted by basicchannel at 5:09 PM on August 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think I have seen a sort of racist 'black people talk during movies' meme called out on Shit Reddit Says, but I'm not sure that applies here.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:10 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, nobody's adding to the movie by injecting their own jokes... probably because their not a professional writers or filmmakers.

That's the thing. I was at a screening of The Shining where a few people thought it was an MST3K style bad movie and tried to crack jokes, which enraged me 'cause, well, I was watching it as a horror movie.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know if anyone has brought up booze yet, but you can buy booze in Australian theatres and its still rude to talk duing them. Hell I've seen movies in pubs and people shut up during them.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:12 PM on August 8, 2013


A few months ago I was at a concert for a band I really, really like. Two people in front of me were having a long, loud conversation. (We were up in the nosebleeds, so it was possible to converse by shouting or talking into someone's ear. They were shouting). Others around us were talking too, but these guys were loud, and were right in front of me, so I cared most about them. I asked them if they could keep it down for a while. One told me "No." I said I really wanted to hear the music, and could they please? And they did! They were quiet for the rest of the show. It was super awkward. I couldn't look at them the rest of the concert because of the social anxiety, but I was no longer as distracted from the music!
Anyway, I wanted to say thank you to those guys, because they probably didn't get a lot of chances to hang out, and were probably really enjoying talking, and probably thought I was incredibly rude for asking them to stop, so I think it's pretty cool that they respected a stranger's sincere request, didn't keep talking, didn't start a brawl, etc.
But while I think it's really great that we were able to have that successful interaction, I have to wonder why they paid $40 each to largely ignore the music and have a yelled conversation when they could have just as easily had it in a bar or something. I just don't get it. Too much money?
posted by agentofselection at 5:13 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, nobody's adding to the movie by injecting their own jokes... probably because their not a professional writers or filmmakers.

Growing up, I used to expect attempts at MST3K joking at every Friday (opening) night screening. I distinctly recall as late as the first Star Wars prequel, the audience of geeks shouting tons of stuff throughout the film (some jokes, some hoots and hollers).
posted by mathowie at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2013


The first group thinks the second two groups are the same.

I think that's a really good, concise, and incisive statement of where the misplaced grar comes from, yeah. People who are like "you are making more noise than I make at this blockbuster, ergo you're a jerk" are projecting some shit onto the situation that does not belong there on the basis of putting their personal expectations/grudges over a broader awareness of culture context, yeah. I mean, it's not actually that clean—viz folks who make the distinction between kinds of films and theaters vs. hardcore "EVERYBODY WHO EVER MAKES NOISE EVER IS A LOWBROW ASSHOLE", but there's definitely something going on there phenomenologically.

The third group are not really relevant to this discussion as everyone agrees their behavior is bad.

That's I think the issue, is that they're not irrelevant, even if they're not the only people who actually get flack from folks who can fall into the first group. Because there's asshole group-one fanatics who conflate group two with group three, but there's also plenty of people who want to get into a quieter/artier film and have had to deal with actual group three people and it's like, this is shitty. You're shitting up my experience, and for no good reason. And it sucks that that flows together in a way that someone in group two at a group-two-appropriate film can end up getting ire from group-one based on triggering some shit underlined by group-three dickasses, but that's not the only scenario that practically arises and it's selling a lot of group one people short to suggest that it is.

Sometimes people are rightly annoyed in a way that's not totally just but is totally understandable. Not everything is cultural hegemony. Sometimes you're just on someone's last nerve when neither of you is totally in the right or totally in the wrong.
posted by cortex at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's the thing. I was at a screening of The Shining where a few people thought it was an MST3K style bad movie and tried to crack jokes, which enraged me 'cause, well, I was watching it as a horror movie.

Fuck that, hanging is too good for them.
posted by Artw at 5:15 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I prefer watching most movies at home because that's how I can actually watch a movie without too many people talking and texting. It has gotten to the point where I only bother watching Giant Robots vs Giant Monsters or Explosions And Guns II: The Explosioning type movies at the theater, because that stuff is good on a huge screen, and loud enough that I don't care if some schmunt is wispering throughout the entire movie to their friend EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON ON-SCREEN. And the explosions tend to significantly distract me enough from the OH MY GOD THEY ARE ACTUALLY LIVE-TWITTERING THIS GODDAMN MOVIE RIGHT NEXT TO ME AND I WANT THEM IN JAIL.

You know what the awesomest movie-watching thing is that you can still do only at home? Pause the movie to get a snack and go to the bathroom. If they had pause-buttons so you could do that from any theater seat, I wonder how that would go over. I think it just might work, if it's true that an armed society is a polite society.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:16 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I have seen a sort of racist 'black people talk during movies' meme called out on Shit Reddit Says

It's not a Reddit meme, I've been hearing that one since before the Internet. It's a long standing stereotype
posted by Hoopo at 5:16 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



But while I think it's really great that we were able to have that successful interaction, I have to wonder why they paid $40 each to largely ignore the music and have a yelled conversation when they could have just as easily had it in a bar or something. I just don't get it. Too much money?


People talking during shows would be another FPP but yeah, hanging is too good for them. Shut up and let me enjoy the show.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:17 PM on August 8, 2013


Most of the people who are responding are in group one, and their argument consists largely of "because I said so".

How about, "It's a stated rule of the theatre I go to"? If you're not quiet I'll go and get the manager and if you're still not quiet then he will kick you out. If you own a theatre then you can make the rules.

I've been to some events where movies were shown and it was explicitly an interactive experience. It was a lot of fun seeing Army of Darkness where everyone in the crowd shouted "Gimme some sugar baby" in unison. It was extremely surreal having everyone rap along to Vanilla Ice's Ninja Rap in TMNT 2 (I'm not kidding).

If it's what I'm expecting and looking for then great (see also Bollywood, though I've never been). Otherwise I'll just go to theatres that have a policy about this sort of thing and who don't mind enforcing it.
posted by ODiV at 5:19 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


And that last, most important question is this: Does what I am about to do benefit me more than it inconveniences others?

This is a question that not enough people who go to the movies ask themselves.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:20 PM on August 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


So aside from your own very personal opinions, what research or evidence do you have to support the population and growth of either groups 1 or 2? Movie culture in India doesn't mean shit. I'm sure there's a culture around movies in North Korea too, it doesn't change or validate culture in America.

MeFi is fairly diverse albeit liberal, and if this thread were your sample, your ever growing Group 2 is not manifesting in your defense.
posted by straight_razor at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


mathowie: I'll assume as a kid you weren't going to see Days of Heaven on a Friday night so... yeah some geeky audibles now and then makes sense due to enthusiasm. That's similar to natural responses I mentioned earlier: laughter, gasping, etc. Nobody, NOBODY is mad about appropriate responses. Who is going to get all pissy if someone screams during a shocking scene in a horror movie? It's when you want to bring your whole life with you to the theater I have a problem with. Like the guys who bring laptops to baseball games... whaaat?

Also, I find the practice of constantly thinking about tweeting and blogging during a movie to be pretty strange.
posted by basicchannel at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think that's a really good, concise, and incisive statement of where the misplaced grar comes from, yeah.

I dunno, I know y'all are friends and everything, but I've read all the linked posts and I think my grar is appropriately-placed.
posted by lalex at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


I find the practice of constantly thinking about tweeting and blogging during a movie to be pretty strange.

Why though? I do it constantly while watching TV, and watching a movie isn't much different than that. I've tweeted a joke about a movie I'm watching at home before, so I've sat in a theater watching a goofy film wishing I could do the same.
posted by mathowie at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to start a Talking And Texting Night at the theater where lights and chatter are explicitly allowed and everybody's there for that purpose, go for it. When you're in a theater that has a big warning at the start of the movie saying to turn off your phone and shut the hell up, kindly do so. It's not complicated.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2013 [34 favorites]


I wonder if Google Glass(alikes) will make that possible without being annoying.

Then again, I wonder if you'd be allowed to wear those into a theatre. Any early adopters in here?
posted by ODiV at 5:24 PM on August 8, 2013


And I think it's worth stating in all the posts I've read about this, I don't get the feeling anyone is saying "Oh hey, from now on, people should be allowed to text and talk during movies, are you all on board with me?!" I get the feeling they're saying instead "Look, times are changing, we should set aside some venues for relaxed norms, stated upfront, so no one is surprised by it" which seems pretty easy to ignore/not attend if you want a silent experience.
posted by mathowie at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2013


Why though? I do it constantly while watching TV, and watching a movie isn't much different than that. I've tweeted a joke about a movie I'm watching at home before, so I've sat in a theater watching a goofy film wishing I could do the same.

Because things that are appropriate in your solitary home environment are not necessarily appropriate in communal spaces?
posted by lalex at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


I do it constantly while watching TV, and watching a movie isn't much different than that.

It's mostly different because people are sitting on the couch behind you and are all like WTF DUDE WHY ARE YOU SHINING A WEIRD FLASHLIGHT IN MY FACE. Like, at home I run out of the living room probably once a night yelling I HAVE TO TWEET SOMETHING at my wife, and she puts up with it because she's wonderful and beyond that I'm not annoying anyone else. At a theater, I'd be annoying strangers who don't love me and aren't here to put up with my foibles; if I need to tweet, you're goddam right I'm gonna cover that screen so no one but me sees it.

But mostly I tweet about shitty shows and movies, where in a theater it'd probably be less of a thing anyway.
posted by cortex at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The messages at the beginning of the movie also say that copying a movie online is just like stealing a car.

I've heard a lot of fine expressions of preference against any distraction at a movie. I've seen little acknowledgment that someone could, in good faith, not share that preference.
posted by anildash at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


wait are you one of those people who would download a car

wtf, man

posted by cortex at 5:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh for pete's sake.
posted by blue t-shirt at 5:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The messages at the beginning of the movie also say that copying a movie online is just like stealing a car.

Are you trolling?
posted by lalex at 5:27 PM on August 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


The third group are not really relevant to this discussion as everyone agrees their behavior is bad.

How do you distinguish between groups 2 and 3? Somebody talking about yesterday's baseball game during a quiet scene in a drama seems to fall under group 2 according to your article, but I would say they're firmly in group 3.
posted by kmz at 5:28 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The messages at the beginning of the movie also say that copying a movie online is just like stealing a car.

It can be if you manage to end up in court over it
posted by straight_razor at 5:28 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


BTW, if you're talking and texting during a movie, then you are now imposing your cultural norms on everybody else there as well. It's a two way street.
posted by kmz at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


kmz, I don't know where my personal line is - my behavior is always group one. But I have seen people interpreting that kind of thing as no big deal at all, and others lose their minds.

Not trolling about the pre-show warnings, just saying we all pick & choose which to heed based on our cultural norms.
posted by anildash at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anil, someone might, in good faith, not share my preference for not eliminating bodily waste in a community swimming pool. I can conceive of that, maybe even respect it. I would still prefer they not come to the pool I'm swimming in.

As some have noted, you seem (oddly) to compare the oppressive nature of shushing to slavery. Okay, I'm game. For how long was it a cultural norm in the southern US for white people to own black people? Many southerners considered human property not only normal, but indispensable to their way of life. The Abolitionists were the shushers, no? Just because a lot of people are doing a thing, and even if it's part of their "culture," that in and of itself doesn't mean it's okay.
posted by azaner at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do it constantly while watching TV, and watching a movie isn't much different than that.

Well, there's the couple of hundred people around you who just paid good money to see the movie. Other than that, yeah, almost like watching TV at home.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:33 PM on August 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


* There are people who see going to movies as a reverent experience, with expectations of essentially zero light and sound being emitted except from the film.
* There are people who see going to the moves as being a bit more like going to a sporting event, where people sometimes respond more vociferously, or even share social experiences like talking to their neighbor or tweeting about it to friends.
* There's a third group, people who are genuinely disruptive to those watching the film.


Here's the problem: People who won't shut up are genuinely disruptive to those watching the film. People who refuse to put their phone away are also disruptive because the light and noise are distracting.

The groups are not as discrete as you're imagining they are. I'm fine if people cheer at cheer-worthy moments in a movie. I'm not fine with running commentary from the dipshit in the row behind me. I'm not fine with someone calling their friend to have a conversation about the movie and asking what they're doing later. You know why? Because I want to hear the fucking movie. That's really all there is to it. It has nothing to do with respect for what's on screen or the gaffer or whatever argument you had a really easy time refuting because you made it up.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:38 PM on August 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


As a brown person whose ancestors are also from India, land of theater yelling, just like Anil, I would just like to say that I don't talk text or tweet in movies and think of movies as art more than entertainment. I kind of resent the implication that I have a simple mind because I'm not white? I mean what?
posted by sweetkid at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


Ohhh no. I'm not commenting this time. Last time I this came up I talked about how movies suck now not because they suck, but because the experience is so fraught with tension. It is just no fun. Bring back the days where you showed up when you wanted, laughed and talked through the movie, and stayed to see it again.

It would think I had kicked somebodies dog. Fuck that, I'm not paying 40-50$ so I can be sushed and silently judged.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It would think I had kicked somebodies dog. Fuck that, I'm not paying 40-50$ so I can be sushed and silently judged.

Good.
posted by Artw at 5:45 PM on August 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


Good

Fine.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:46 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can everyone please stop typing? Some of us came here to read the article
posted by oulipian at 5:47 PM on August 8, 2013 [23 favorites]


It's kinda like Moonlighting.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:48 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like to think of it as Remington Steele, I do all the work and Artw gets all the favorites.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:48 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's worth pointing out that there are many theatres which create more casual, talk-during-this atmospheres, versus the typical dark-lights-shush-now environment which is the norm. And seeing certain movies, like Tommy Wiseau's The Room, in that kind of environment can be pretty awesome. And I mean nobody gets in trouble for laughing at jokes in a movie, do they? The movie experience is PLENTY loud.

But when you go to see a movie, you're there for THE MOVIE. And if that movie isn't so oppressively loud that at some points you can hear other people speak (though I prefer oppressive loudness), then it's probably because the movie's doing things with dynamic and tension that are, in fact, a part of how the movie's supposed to be watched.

I don't give a shit about norms versus non-norms, appreciating the thing you paid to go see is better than not fucking appreciating it. I think the same about classical music, which talking during is RAGE, or about theatre performances, or stand-up, or reading a book. If you talk at me while I'm trying to read I will cut you. But for some reason we're not talking about how much it sucks that libraries are supposed to be quiet places, because if we were, then everybody on the planet would know what a piece of shit argument that'd be.

It's respect for professionals. Some movies are meant to be call-and-response, just as bluegrass is made for dancing. Those movies can be responded to, laughed at, whatever. But even then there's a right and a wrong way to do it, and those ways are defined less by culture opprobrium and more by the nature of the way that a thing exists. Is there a part to laugh at, sing along to, mock, whatever? Do that. There isn't? Watch.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The fact that people - not just any people, but our fearless leader - twitch with the urge to tweet while watching a movie saddens me to no end. And the thought of an entire theater of moviegoers furiously attempting to out-snark-tweet each other is worse still. Sometimes I'm very glad to be relatively out of touch, social-media wise. It must be very stressful, always being "on". If only there was a means of escape, a place to turn off the world and indulge in fantasy for a few hours...
posted by schoolgirl report at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


Can everyone please stop typing? Some of us came here to read the article

I so wish there was a feature on Anil's site that would let commenters obscure parts of his post for a limited amount of time. Would it be annoying or funny? Both?
posted by ODiV at 5:51 PM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


It seems like he used an awful lot of words to say, White people are like this, Indian people are like that.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:52 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also when Anil accuses other people of being condescending I do a little happy giggle. Anil I am sometimes a big fan of what you write, but amused-but-benign condescension is your default writerly voice. It's very enjoyable. I wish you'd be more okay with when people target you with that in turn, because no, not everything you write is above condescension just because you co-invented the Internet.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:53 PM on August 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wow, y'all, it's like the Sharks and the Jets up in here.

Seriously, I've been bugged by people chatting through a movie, but mainly if they are (a) chatting about something unrelated to the film, or (b) spoiling jokes or plotpoints in a noticeable way.

I've also had my filmgoing experiences enriched by audience reaction, like going to Star Trek film premieres in the 80s (shut up) and seeing "Do the Right Thing" in a largely Black neighborhood in New Orleans. (My first red cream soda!)

Some films are art, and some are social experiences, and I've certainly been guilty of whispering in my companion's ear when I'm outraged by stupid decisions (yes, Django, still looking at you) or deeply moved by visual or literary moves. I think of it as *sharing* the film with my friends/loved ones, and I think there's room for that without spoiling everyone's sacred film experience.

On one thing we can all agree: people who answer their cell phones during a film and begin to talk loudly about where they are now, and what they did yesterday? Boiling oil.

Um, unless you are in a neighborhood where that's the norm. Because yep, social expectations can differ from place to place, no matter what the generic pre-film message says about buying Coke and shutting up.
posted by allthinky at 5:54 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know, perhaps Canada is importing a different brand of Indian people. Most movies I go to these days the crowd is majority brown, but it's always the white high school kids talking on their phones.
posted by mannequito at 5:54 PM on August 8, 2013


One girl's story of being oppressed at the movies.
posted by Night_owl at 5:56 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I repeat Indian people do not yell in movies in North America. And we are totally smart and stuff I mean just ask me what I think about the French new wave and woody Allen and especially the former's effect on the latter but not during the movie ok
posted by sweetkid at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


The parallel drawn to concerts here is making me feel like I'm some kind of hardcore loud-ass-band aficionado where I can barely hear the guy next to me shouting in my ear over the music. The rest of the conversation makes me feel like I go to the quietest theatres in the world where hardly a sound is ever uttered.

Do people in the US talk a lot in theatres? Like, is this a really common thing that happens a lot?
posted by Hoopo at 5:58 PM on August 8, 2013


I hope you guys don't think I actually shout stuff during movies, I don't even text or tweet.I am way too anxious for that. But I sometimes wish other people would.

I still remember seeing Grease 2 and some guy shouting something like "oww, my nuts" after the lead jumped off a roof onto his motorcycle. As a fairly young kid that made the otherwise awful movie bearable, I couldn't stop laughing. I think it is just an inner city thing as I remember all the movie being like that growing up.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:58 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bring back the days where you showed up when you wanted, laughed and talked through the movie, and stayed to see it again

What day was that, and where?

I grew up in Boston in the late 70s and 80s. Rocky Horror show midnight on Friday at the theater in Harvard Square? Bring your squirt guns and toast or stay the fuck home.

George Cukor fest at the Coolidge? Shut up. Your ad lib can't touch the dialogue on the screen.

I saw All About Eve at the Castro when I first moved to San Francisco; it is without question the gayest thing I have ever done or experienced. Audience participation? People have the dialogue memorized, of course there was participation!

There were also the parts when people shut up.

There was even an earthquake. It rattled the building and the big deadly chandelier hanging over the center of the theater swayed. Everyone got up very calmly and quietly and backed up the aisles - we kept watching the movie, which kept playing! - and stood in the doorways until it seemed clear that nothing else was going to happen. Then we all went and sat back down. Nobody sat under the chandelier.
posted by rtha at 6:00 PM on August 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


On one thing we can all agree: people who answer their cell phones during a film and begin to talk loudly about where they are now

This is one of those things that is so hilariously bad I actually think I secretly enjoy it just for the chorus of STFU that invariably follows. " I CAN'T TALK RIGHT NOW IM AT THE MOVIES". Oh, really? Cuz it sounds to me like you CAN talk right now at the movies and everyone hates you
posted by Hoopo at 6:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Walk posts seem reasonable; I don't find it unthinkable that there could be theaters/screens with dim lighting, etc.

I don't think it would work, really, as it seems like there's too many other things at play ("IMAX or 3D? Wait, what's the sound mix? Is 9:30 pm too late?") that decisions will be made on other axes and Bright Theaters will be skipped by many who know what they are (I wouldn't want to deal with those who are surprised).

But he doesn't get into talking. Just light.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:08 PM on August 8, 2013


What day was that, and where?

Late 70-80s in Brooklyn. Obviously I was a kid so I wasn't going to the Angelika or Film Forum, I bet those places were quiet. Shit like Herbie Goes Bananas played for like months at the theatre on Fulton Street. It was safe for kids and they had AC so you sat there all day and saw it five time.We ain't talking cinematic classics here.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:09 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I get the feeling they're saying instead 'Look, times are changing, we should set aside some venues for relaxed norms, stated upfront, so no one is surprised by it' which seems pretty easy to ignore/not attend if you want a silent experience."

Yeah, but Alamo Drafthouse, which anil is using as an example, does regularly have screenings where the audience participates, and it's not just Rocky Horror or whatever. As far as I know, they've not done this with any first-run films, but Alamo clearly understands that some people want to loudly interact with some movies and they provide a venue for that. They also provide a venue for an unusually strict no talking/phone experience, too. They seem to me to be a bad choice if your argument is that theaters should accommodate various kinds of moviegoing experience. Probably nobody does that more than Alamo does.

Anyway, this argument is just cultural relativism, it's not that interesting. It's as if we were talking about wearing shoes indoors. There's no "right" way, there's just local custom. But what's wrong is violating local custom. The predominant custom in the US is not to talk or use your phone in the movie theater.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:12 PM on August 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


On the one hand do whatever you want, I gave up on US theaters a long time ago, but on the other hand, we are at an etiquette crossroads here, and it'd be nice if theaters adapted by having an every other show strict enforcement vs anarchy binary.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:12 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Group two does nothing to try to stop group one from existing.

Well, no, because they don't need to. People who prefer a talky theater to a quiet theater can turn a quiet theater into a talky theater by . . . talking. But you can't turn a talky theater into a quiet theater by being quiet. Maybe a large portion of people in the US enjoy "sharing social experiences" via phone conversation/loud keyboard bloops while in a movie (though I doubt it) but it only takes one to mess up the experience of the seven or eight quiet people sitting closest to them.
posted by ostro at 6:13 PM on August 8, 2013 [36 favorites]


Anyway, this argument is just cultural relativism, it's not that interesting

It's actually more interesting than usual because Anil has attempted to make it a race-based cultural relativism - his article is basically faux outrage "are you saying that Indians are BAD PEOPLE for not being white? How dare you!"
posted by jacalata at 6:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


There is appropriate noise and inappropriate noise. There are movies you can yell at, and movies you can't. Carrying on a conversation is never acceptable, and the only people who would argue otherwise are the antisocial assholes who do it.

But, really, home viewing is no longer inferior, so the whole issue is moot. Talkers can stay home and talk. Non-talkers can stay home and non-talk. It is a solved problem.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:22 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I go to the movies frequently, by my lonesome. There is another gentleman in my area who goes to the movies frequently too, by his lonesome as well. When I first became aware of him, I thought he had a mental illness, as he was seemingly talking to himself. I've come to learn, however, that he talks to whoever is on the screen about his current opinions on things, for the benefit of the audience, and is not truly talking to himself. These conversations take place during the advertisements prior to the previews, the previews, and the movie itself. They are terse, but frequent. One attribute of his that I hold in high esteem is his devotion to sitting in the same relative location for every movie. This, in turn, has strongly encouraged me to develop a similar consistency in choosing a seat—but I must say we differ greatly in our Platonic ideal of where one best sits.

Last Saturday morning, I became complacent and neglected by seating habit. I unwittingly was within earshot of his conversations. I quickly discovered that I was also able to hear another gentleman too. The other gentleman was fond of repeating the punchline of the joke he just heard, seemingly for the benefit of his girlfriend. I do not think she needed this aid, but she did not raise it as an issue. After an hour or so, I came to realize I like the first guy more. Not hearing the movie for original content is far better than not hearing the movie just to hear the part of the movie you already heard.

And yes, when I pay to see a movie, I expect to be able to hear and see it, both at the same time. But feel free to pay me to lower my expectations. Regardless, I'm looking forward to the day where someone disrupts the movie that everyone paid to see by watching another movie on their phone, at 11am on a Saturday.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:23 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


DiscourseMarker and I once went to a movie in the late 90s in West Texas in which someone brought his own portable television into the theater and was watching it while the movie was going on. I think it's fair to say that man was an asshole.

The right to swing my arms around ends at your nose. Your right to enjoy the movie in the way you prefer ends when it makes my enjoyment of the movie impossible. If you're talking in a quiet space, or making light in a dark space, that's what you are doing.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:23 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


anildash promised me cake like seven years ago now. Still nothing. I'm just a humble librarian, but I have a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like yo-

WHAT? YEAH! PICK ME UP AT 10:30 AT KEISTER'S. YEAH. YEAH. NO. YEAH. REALLY? HE'S CUTE SO YEAH. WHAT? NO. THERE ARE PEOPLE THROWING POPCORN AT ME. JERKS! NO. I'M AT THE MOVIES. YEAH. THE ETHAN HAWKE ONE. SO HOT.

-for you. I will find you. I will have my cake.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:24 PM on August 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


* There are people who see going to movies as a reverent experience, with expectations of essentially zero light and sound being emitted except from the film.
* There are people who see going to the moves as being a bit more like going to a sporting event, where people sometimes respond more vociferously, or even share social experiences like talking to their neighbor or tweeting about it to friends.
* There's a third group, people who are genuinely disruptive to those watching the film.


Group 1 is a strawman. Group 2 and group 3 are the same.

And from many of the comments in this thread we should add group 1.5

* There are people who are OK with natural responses to the film - laughter, horrified gasps, even the occasional cheering - but find it reasonable to expect that other patrons keep it to that.

I don't think I've ever seen anybody shushed for laughing at something that happened on the screen. The guy yelling at "I am Optimus Prime" might annoy the strawmen in group 1 but I don't see group 1.5 having any problem.

Though, really, complaining about false equivalences in the Dash article would take forever and people are already throwing popcorn at me. And I was hoping to get this all in during the slow second act of Pacific Rim.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm just a humble librarian, but I have a very particular set of skills

OH SHIT HE'S GOING TO ALPHABETIZE YOU!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


the cake was a lie
posted by cortex at 6:26 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone print this(PDF link) out and slap Mr Dash in the face with it a few times.

I only endorse this act of gross violence because slapping someone in the face with soggy printer paper is rather ineffectual in its physical impact, but potent in its symbolism.
posted by dumbland at 6:28 PM on August 8, 2013


im for sears yo
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:29 PM on August 8, 2013


A lot of people were in favor of the 18th amendment on the assumption that it would stop all those immigrants from drinking whiskey all the time but surely there would be nothing wrong with a nice cold beer after work. Then the Volstead Act happened and guess what when we said no alcohol we meant no alcohol. I guess what I'm saying is don't be surprised when you go into a quiet-only cinema and a movie theatre ninja snaps your neck because you were coughing.

Why yes I recently saw Ken Burns' Prohibition what of it
posted by ckape at 6:30 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, really? Cuz it sounds to me like you CAN talk right now at the movies and everyone hates you

A friend of mine did that once and I snatched the phone out of his hand and threw it on the floor at the precise same moment that, on the other side, his wife grabbed his ear and twisted it. Later, as he crawled around on the sticky floor bemoaning his terrible fate, his wife and I high-fived over his empty seat.
posted by elizardbits at 6:31 PM on August 8, 2013 [31 favorites]


Someone print this(PDF link) out

Whoa, whoa, whoa, there are people that want to take their shoes off at a theater during a movie?!

I'm all for relaxing norms but FUCK THOSE PEOPLE because seriously. No shoes in a strange sticky theater? That's insanity.
posted by mathowie at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


someone brought his own portable television into the theater and was watching it while the movie was going on.

this is precisely why i think we need to bring back public stonings and putting people in the stocks and whatnot
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Jesus Christ. Do we need to add "Talking at the movies" to the list of topics that Metafilter doesn't do well? YOU ARE ALL OVERREACTING TO THIS.

I don't even agree with Anil, but I want to take his side, just because the reaction has been so extreme and over the top.
posted by schmod at 6:34 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I remember calling a friend once to see what he was up to. He was at a movie theater, and answered his phone to tell me he was at a movie theater and that he couldn't talk because he was at a movie theater.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:36 PM on August 8, 2013


I was at a screening for Mud a couple weeks ago at my local semi-arthouse cinema. There was a fair mix, some people in their 20s, many past 40, and a couple next to me in the back row who I imagine were past 60. As the trailers ran people kept up their conversations, but then the film started and people kept up their conversations.

I quietly stewed, as is my way, letting my resentment for humanity fester. The elderly woman next to me, however, took none of this crap.

"SHOOSH".

One short, sharp syllable, and they shut the hell up. It was fantastic.

That lady rocked. Nice movie too.
posted by dumbland at 6:37 PM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


OH SHIT HE'S GOING TO ALPHABETIZE YOU!

Dewey Decimal-ize, surely?
posted by jacalata at 6:38 PM on August 8, 2013


Jesus Christ. Do we need to add "Talking at the movies" to the list of topics that Metafilter doesn't do well? YOU ARE ALL OVERREACTING TO THIS.

I don't even agree with Anil, but I want to take his side, just because the reaction has been so extreme and over the top.


I agree with this.
posted by sweetkid at 6:40 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Me too, but devil's advocate: When you use hyperbolic and condescending language to address a group of people, as Anil did, the response is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:43 PM on August 8, 2013 [20 favorites]


Group two does nothing to try to stop group one from existing. Group one is in denial that group two is growing, and instead of trying to find a separate peace, or negotiate any compromise, is doubling down on the idea that theirs is the only possible valid behavior.

Your logic is fatally flawed, Anil.

Why would group two (the noisemakers) try to stop group one (the quiet watchers) from existing? My sitting there quietly watching a movie in no way affects your enjoyment of making noise whilst watching said movie. The same does not apply in reverse. I cannot selectively close my ears to your noise.

You can't really think that's a logical argument. It's like saying 'My friends and I enjoy smoking during university lectures. I'm not trying to tell other students they have to smoke in the lecture theatre, so they shouldn't be telling me I can't smoke in the lecture theatre'.

I mean...really?
posted by Salamander at 6:45 PM on August 8, 2013 [36 favorites]


Ah, that reminds me. I'd like to chime in as another person who is actually allergic to cigarette smoke.
posted by mountmccabe at 6:47 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I wish I hadn't participated in this thread.

I don't think grouse meant his comment this way, but I think this is another example of anildash doing some contrarian trolling to regain lost notoriety or relevancy.
posted by lalex at 6:48 PM on August 8, 2013


I don't even agree with Anil, but I want to take his side, just because the reaction has been so extreme and over the top.

You should have seen Twitter.
posted by Artw at 6:49 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is wrong with the Anil Dashes of the world that they can't shut the fuck up for 2 hours and enjoy something?

When what you enjoy most in the world is the sound of your own voice ...
posted by dumbland at 6:50 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm with Anil and how he likes to make his own rules in theatres, but that's only because I make my own rule of pouring my soda on people who won't shut the fuck up when I ask them to.

He might think my way of ruining his movie-going experience is extreme and not at all analogous to his way of ruining my movie-going experience, but, I think over time, as more and more people adopt my rule, he'll come around to seeing it our way.
posted by dobbs at 6:52 PM on August 8, 2013 [37 favorites]


eugenen: "waving around the equivalent of a bright flashlight"

I occasionally watch my phone during a movie - especially if it's terrible. Just turn off the backlight, dim the screen to minimum, use a black background 'night" skin. With a modern OLED screen, those blacks are darker than anything else in the theatre and the rest is barely emitting beyond the infra-red and basically invisible past your row. This is not hard to do. On Android with any kind of mainline launcher, that's around 5 to 6 swipes to set even if you don't have a pre-existing skin. I'm assuming other phones are just as simple.
posted by meehawl at 6:57 PM on August 8, 2013


. Just turn off the backlight, dim the screen to minimum, use a black background 'night" skin. With a modern OLED screen, those blacks are darker than anything else in the theatre and the rest is barely emitting beyond the infra-red and basically invisible past your row.

Assuming this is true, and that the people next to you don't mind that you do this, it is really not what most people do when they use their phones during movies.
posted by jeather at 7:00 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why do people think movie theaters are prisons they are sentenced to that they cannot leave for the duration of the movie?
posted by ifandonlyif at 7:03 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Why do people think movie theaters are prisons they are sentenced to that they cannot leave for the duration of the movie?"

That's the only logical explanation for Avatar?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:05 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Someone print this(PDF link) out and slap Mr Dash in the face with it a few times.

Wow, where does that guy go to the movies, Buckingham Palace?
posted by fuse theorem at 7:06 PM on August 8, 2013


lalex, I wrote the piece in about 20 minutes. I spent months researching immigration policy and Zuckerberg's political action committee for a piece about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, and distiller it into an easily digestible set of actions we cold all do. That's what I shared as broadly as possible. The self righteous folks in this thread were more interested in complaining about talking at movies.

I absolutely have been trying to get attention -- for important civic and social issues. If you only interact with me and my ideas about trivial bullshit that says far more about you and your choices than about me and mine.
posted by anildash at 7:08 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming other phones are just as simple.

Even more simple: Leave the terrible movie and play with your phone elsewhere.
posted by dogrose at 7:10 PM on August 8, 2013


I spent months researching immigration policy and Zuckerberg's political action committee for a piece about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, and distiller it into an easily digestible set of actions we cold all do. That's what I shared as broadly as possible. The self righteous folks in this thread were more interested in complaining about talking at movies.

So for you to write a one-off piece about movie talking is okay, but for other people to respond to it isn't, and we all must therefore not care about immigration policy, or indeed anything important?
posted by jeather at 7:13 PM on August 8, 2013 [46 favorites]


dogrose: "Leave the terrible movie and play with your phone elsewhere."

Well, some of us do not attend movies alone.
posted by meehawl at 7:17 PM on August 8, 2013



lalex, I wrote the piece in about 20 minutes. I spent months researching immigration policy and Zuckerberg's political action committee for a piece about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, and distiller it into an easily digestible set of actions we cold all do. That's what I shared as broadly as possible. The self righteous folks in this thread were more interested in complaining about talking at movies.


Maybe I've lost my mind, and if so I welcome a correction, but the piece we're talking about is about people talking at movie theaters. So people are having a discussion about talking at movie theaters.

If there's a piece you've written about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, I'd love to read it. Hell, I'll post it to the front page because I'm very interested in immigration policy. Send me the link.
posted by lalex at 7:18 PM on August 8, 2013


I wrote the piece in about 20 minutes

Then, respectfully, I suggest you should not have published it.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 7:22 PM on August 8, 2013 [38 favorites]


I absolutely have been trying to get attention -- for important civic and social issues. If you only interact with me and my ideas about trivial bullshit that says far more about you and your choices than about me and mine.

Hey I'm your fan. But I asked you to add me on Twitter once because Robert Scoble did (he did!) and someone told me "that took a lot of nerve cuz that guy..."
posted by sweetkid at 7:29 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


To everybody talking about reactions being over-the-top:

I think maybe what's missing from this is the emotional reaction we have to norm violation. I can get absurdly bothered by etiquette violations - and I can recognize it as absurd and describe it that way but that doesn't mitigate the emotional reality of it.

As a for instance: I ride the bus and I can get super irate over poor public transit manners. People who cling to the poles with their entire bodies on packed trains, or people who leave their bag on the seat next to them while people around them are standing, that sort of thing. These are, really and truly, pretty minor things, and I know that. If you describe them in a superficial way they sound absurd to get upset about.

But what that superficial description leaves out of the picture is that I have an instinct-level reaction to people doing things that violate what my group has identified as polite.

It's an animal social function. I can recognize that it makes mountains out of molehills, but that does nothing little to help short circuit it.

And so I think some of these "why is this such a big deal" reactions aren't allowing for that - you're looking at situation you don't identify with and looking at that surface-level description and looking at the reaction and saying "these don't add up". You're right, they don't - but that's not allowing for the other part of the equation, which is part of human nature, and I think for better or for worse we're more or less stuck with it.

But, anyway, beyond that: I think people who don't get bothered with these things might also miss another part of my subjective experience as someone who does get bothered by them - they create really weird and distracting vortexes of social complexity. I want to say something, right? I want to say something to the guy behind me that's annoying me during a movie. But then I worry about the repercussions of that - I don't want to make myself more tense, and I don't want to make things tense for the people I'm with, and I worry that if they don't respect my request to be quieter that I'll then feel like I have to escalate or lose face, I worry that they'll be confrontational, I don't want to be rude myself, etc. And so I sit there and think, "I'll just ignore them, it wasn't that bad," but then I'm sitting there like hyper-attuned to this person, now, waiting for their next dumb loud joke or whatever. Or I might be thinking about whether trying to ignore them and avoiding confrontation about it is the mature thing to do or just being a pushover.

I know I'm an uptight shithead. No one needs to point that out. :) It is absurd.

But my point is that maybe the people surprised by the reaction to talking are also missing this aspect of it: it destroys my ability to think about the film. I'm now thinking about that person, full-time. And, jesus, I wish I could do away with this part of myself. I really am not a fan of this aspect of my personality.

Anyway, I feel like my comment here is doomed to failure, because I suspect anyone who doesn't understand the hating-on-talkers reactions will just have their opinion confirmed that I'm an asshole. And that's not untrue. But I'm just trying to say, "Hey, yeah, on the surface it's a super minor thing, but irritation towards violation of cultural norms makes it feel much bigger, and that in turn sets up a whole complex series of other social reactions about my own feelings about passivity vs. tolerance vs. aggression, and while I don't think any of this is great, self-awareness of it doesn't make it seem less real and maybe if I explain you'll get that it's not just the surface thing."

I dunno. So there's that. I hate how anal I am about this shit, really. But also please STFU during movies and hold onto the pole with one hand in such a way that other people can grip the pole without getting up in your business.
posted by neuromodulator at 7:39 PM on August 8, 2013 [32 favorites]


If you only interact with me and my ideas about trivial bullshit that says far more about you and your choices than about me and mine.

Oh come on. Do you not see how megalomaniacal and condescending that reads?
posted by graphnerd at 7:42 PM on August 8, 2013 [39 favorites]


BUT THAT'S WHAT'S FUN ABOUT ANIL DASH STUFF
posted by sweetkid at 7:44 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


>This is How Indians Watch a Movie in Theatre Mankatha Movie is interesting. I think that the cinema culture is very different in India, that movie theaters are more social place and not necessarily where you collectively yet solitarily consume movies like you do in most Western countries.


I would imagine that like in the US, it's different depending on what movie you're watching. If it's a quiet, contemplative sort of movie, one would expect the audience to likewise be quiet. Bollywood movies are a wholly different experience; they're nothing like the musicals we're used to. So I'm really not surprised that the audience experience is different. But yes, I do think it's likely that the expectations of the audience's behavior is culturally different - that's very apparent when you look at Indian cricket matches. Things used to be very different in the American theatre; it wasn't always a well-respected medium. It used to be more like television - there were badly made plays, and good ones, and especially for the former, people would use the theatre as a social setting, talking through the plays and shouting jeers at the actors. Things were a bit different there as things are different in India and other places, but there was and is still a time and a place to adjust to different rules of conduct. Personally, I would take offense if someone suddenly shouted DUMBLEDORE DIES at the beginning of The Halfblood Prince.
posted by ScarletLark at 7:57 PM on August 8, 2013


So I, and a lot of other people, go to the movies as a form of escape. Not that my life is terrible or anything but I enjoy the joy of getting lost in the world that the filmmakers have built. It's a little bit of an out-of-body experience to live vicariously inside that fictional place for a while. That's why you watch a movie in a dark room insulated from outside noise, so that the real world doesn't interrupt. So when you talk or flash your blindingly bright phone, you pull me right out of the movie world back and into the mundane real world full of everyday annoyances. At least for me, that's a grinding context switch that takes me a few minutes to recover from and relax enough to be able to enjoy the movie again.
posted by octothorpe at 8:00 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Then, respectfully, I suggest you should not have published it

Hang on, are we still talking about a blog entry on his own blog?
posted by Hoopo at 8:00 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno guys, you are acting as if the guy is actually sitting next to you in Pacific Rim eating combos and yapping on the phone. It is just an essay.

None of the commenters here are ruining your viewing of The Avengers either.

Take this aggression out on people actually calling their broker or whatever they are doing during these movies you all see.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:02 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And these are just comments, Ad hominem. It's not like we're actually pouring soda on people or getting Anil kicked out of the thread or anything.
posted by ODiV at 8:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Good point. Carry on.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:04 PM on August 8, 2013


The last time there was a thread on this general area (although in that case it concerned phones and live theater), I got so het up that one of the mods had to email me and tell me to cut it out.

So all I will say is: Anil, if you can agree that live theater calls for a stricter standard in audience behavior, then I'll hold my tongue on movies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:13 PM on August 8, 2013


Hang on, are we still talking about a blog entry on his own blog?

A blog is not a diary tucked under the author's pillow, yes? It is a publication, no? For the public to read and respond to, no? When publishing to the public, one must expect the public to react. If the author is willing to spend weeks and weeks developing one article, but only spends "20 minutes" on another, and then suffers criticism over that poor editorial decision, then it is not the fault of the public for pointing that out. Blogs are newspapers edited by the reporters and presented to the public. The reporter cannot then select how he is to be graded. If "it only took 20 minutes" is an excuse for "it's not worth criticizing," then it should not have been published. Or at least should have been published with a caveat or two indicating that it is not meant to be taken seriously, because it was just dashed off; but this article was not presented that way. The author is, to my mind, using a trick after being called out along the lines of "I was just kidding; can't you take a joke?" ... an attempt to have it both ways.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 8:13 PM on August 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


this thread is exactly why i come to metafilter so much more rarely these days
posted by radiosilents at 8:17 PM on August 8, 2013


What particularly about it, radiosilents? (Curious.)
posted by Salamander at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2013


everyone seems to be ignoring what anil was responding to with the immigration comment...lalex said he had written this to regain his "lost relevancy" which is not only shitty, but also laughable if you look at the other work anil is doing. to me, he's not saying, "don't talk about this," he's saying, "this isn't all I do."
posted by nadawi at 8:35 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


everyone seems to be ignoring what anil was responding to with the immigration comment

I didn't ignore it, I acknowledged that this piece had nothing to do with immigration.
posted by lalex at 8:45 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It has to be a notable first to be chided, by the author, for not going off-topic in a thread about their own work.
posted by 0xFCAF at 8:49 PM on August 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


everyone seems to be ignoring what anil was responding to with the immigration comment...lalex said he had written this to regain his "lost relevancy" which is not only shitty, but also laughable if you look at the other work anil is doing. to me, he's not saying, "don't talk about this," he's saying, "this isn't all I do."
posted by nadawi at 8:35 PM on August 8 [+] [!]


I'm glad this isn't all he does, but as an introduction to his work, it sure doesn't make me want to seek out his other stuff.
posted by Salamander at 8:52 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I try not to feed the trolls, but I do want to respond to one quote that's here.

The leader of group one, Tim League of Alamo Drafthouse, won't even concede that maybe there should be Quiet Car screenings and non-quiet screenings; he's a fundamentalist who believes there can only be quiet and everyone else should, I don't know, just conform because his is the only valid opinion.

So, far from being some sort of monster, inflicting his will on all the customers of Fandango across this great land, Tim League is a businessman who runs a chain of theaters that show movies.

Tim has a "no talking or texting" rule, a reserved seat rule, food and drink service, a wider variety of programming, including special events, and he doesn't show ads before the movie. Sometimes those moves are singalong/quotealong/dancealongs, specifically programmed to encourage audience participation. Sometimes they're baby friendly. Alamo Drafthouse has movies that suit a wide variety of options, all clearly defined.

No one is shushed by a fellow patron in a Drafthouse; they are politely asked by his staff to stop disrupting other patrons and if they continue to disrupt the theater, they are asked to leave.

Tim has a large and growing customer base who prefer his style of presenting movies and his company is expanding into other markets. While there's no evidence presented that Anil's claim that his approved way of watching movies is growing, there's clearly evidence that Tim's way is commercially viable and growing more successful over time.

If Anil or others think another model is viable, they have the same opportunity to start a theater chain and prove that theory.
posted by Mad_Carew at 8:54 PM on August 8, 2013 [27 favorites]


I shared this on Twitter a couple of days ago, but the blog I've been designing for myself has two primary categories of text post. One is essentially a "dump zone" for things I feel like sharing but haven't put a whole lot of effort into; posts there are given less prominence on the main page, and are formatted with a breezy, much less formal font.

Also, there is a disclaimer on those posts, which is inserted automatically and without my say: "This is neither well thought-out nor well-written. Pease lower your expectations accordingly."

I don't bring this up as snark; I legitimately think that the Internet is made better when people share whatever they feel like sharing, regardless of if they've done research or hit the books or whatever. But I also think that it is sometimes good to set people's expectations prior to their reading your work, and sometimes prior to your even writing what you feel like writing. I find that people are way more okay with my bullshit when they know it's bullshit, which lets me write serious things without being dismissed out-of-hand, and share opinions and idle thoughts without them completely marring my reputation.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:55 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


lalex, I wrote the piece in about 20 minutes. I spent months researching immigration policy and Zuckerberg's political action committee for a piece about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, and distiller it into an easily digestible set of actions we cold all do. That's what I shared as broadly as possible. The self righteous folks in this thread were more interested in complaining about talking at movies.

Trolling For Good™
posted by threeants at 8:59 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


anil did indeed write a piece about immigration reform; my offer to post it to the blue still stands.
posted by lalex at 9:06 PM on August 8, 2013


The author's view is legitimate, because it is preceded by a historical context—that of applause suppression in classical music performance. Plenty of literature on such social expectations in earlier times, ranging from Mozart to Rachmaninoff.

The problem is not with Anil Dash (up to the point that he did not [but could have labored to] spoon-feed readers), it is people's unwillingness to imagine cultural realities and complexities.
posted by polymodus at 9:07 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, some of us do not attend movies alone.

So true! Some of us consult with friends and significant others about what movie we're seeing. That greatly reduces the odds of finding oneself in a theater showing a horrible movie.

meehawl, I'm willing to trust that you're every bit the dimming-ninja you described. Most people aren't, so your comment isn't all that helpful.

PROTIP: Go to the lobby. You don't even have to dim your screen there!
posted by dogrose at 9:11 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


let's all go to the lobby and get ourselves a snack
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can't. I have deep vein thrombosis. Was too afraid to move cuz my chair might squeak.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:32 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let's All Go To the Lobby.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:44 PM on August 8, 2013


One more voice for please remain quiet during the movie. If you must talk, then wait and rent/buy the movie and do so at home. That, or convince your local cinema to sell tickets for those who wish to speak during the film and those who wish to offer full attention to the film without vocalization.
posted by Atreides at 10:01 PM on August 8, 2013


By "go to the lobby," I mean "go away, way the fuck away from me, okay?"

Which has become my default response to almost all stimuli.

PROTIP: Do not get old.
posted by dogrose at 10:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


The problem is not with Anil Dash (up to the point that he did not [but could have labored to] spoon-feed readers), it is people's unwillingness to imagine cultural realities and complexities.

No, we are willing (and able!) to imagine other 'cultural realities and complexities' just fine. Doesn't mean we're obliged to admit they're superior to our own.

The problem is with Anil's unwillingness to admit that accusing people of white cultural imperialism is not the Universal Trump Card that he would like it to be.
posted by Salamander at 10:04 PM on August 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


No, we are willing (and able!) to imagine other 'cultural realities and complexities' just fine. Doesn't mean we're obliged to admit they're superior to our own.

Man, I'm on the side of "please be quiet during movies", but valid != superior.
posted by neuromodulator at 10:20 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I sort of feel the same way at national parks. Like if there are signs on the tundra that patiently explain that it's a very fragile ecosystem that you shouldn't tread on then walking all over like some goddamned monkeys just so you can use your blinky slab to upload something onto a glowing screen for your monkey friends to howl about just pisses me off to no end.

I don't swear any allegiances to the National Park Service but it's like, shit man, that ecosystem took so many countless fucking millenia to evolve and sustain itself on top of these goddamn mountains and you're just treading all over them, hootin' and hollerin', introducing invasive species and foreign contaminants left and right, picking bugs out of your noses and eating them.

I also have a lot of unresolved anger issues and maybe a touch of classist rage against anti-intellectualism. Anyway, continue on. Some people paid $X to see a movie that cost $X to make and Y amount of time and the director most definitely did not design the film to be seen with talking/cell phones in the background so we should just shush by default unless the crowd is willing and able to spoonfully reject The Room because it's obviously not up to standards and maybe different movies and different theatres engender completely different audience reactions and whatnot (ie AMC 430215 showing Harry Potter Something 8 at midnight in a college town with costume encouraged vs arthouse theater showing Tarkovsky's The Mirror at 7pm in Yuppieville featuring special guest critic Charlie Brown Horse Ebooks).
posted by dubusadus at 10:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


A pox on the privileged people with their expensive glowing phones and confident, extroverted ease in running their mouths. Us poor introverts are trying to watch the movie.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:21 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


This does come across as a trolling article, right down to the 'text and Twitter during films all you want! Not that I'd ever...' part. Oh, and how it he seems to be adding, 'you just can't see the nuances and subtleties of my argument from your monolith of privilege and oppression.'

It's a pretty basic 'being called out for being an arsehole is just as bad as being an arsehole in the first place' argument, and deserves about as much respect as you'd think.

Though I do find it extra sad-making that there is this set of people who are presumably so addicted/enamored of the internet that they can't stay off it for a couple of hours. I quite like Twitter, but you can't hold off your 140 characters of awesomeness for one moment for fear the internet won't love you anymore?
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:22 PM on August 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Although one of my funniest movie going moments was at the opening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind when the guy in the row in front of me gasped, "I wish I had my camera!" when the spaceship landed.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:24 PM on August 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also I think calling arrogance and maybe partial ignorance 'trolling' does this whole discussion and the author himself a major disservice. We're not talking about some 15-year-old logging onto Neopets and copy pastaing 'WHO IS JOHN GALT' all over the politics forum.
posted by dubusadus at 10:26 PM on August 8, 2013


Talking in a film (even the people who yell "Woooo!") is arguably less obnoxious than painting your fingernails in a commercial jet cabin (to make clear this wasn't some star's bizjet, but the cattle car of the skies, economy class, passengers unable to escape the fumes)

In a film? Get up and move. Films are rarely totally filled anymore.
posted by bad grammar at 10:33 PM on August 8, 2013


The next time someone throws a half-full soda at Dash's head in the theaters, at least he'll know why.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:35 PM on August 8, 2013


Wow, as much as Metafilter likes to hate on other things, we certainly do manage to keep a special level of internet dickishness reserved for "our own".
posted by St. Sorryass at 10:41 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]



Wow, as much as Metafilter likes to hate on other things, we certainly do manage to keep a special level of internet dickishness reserved for "our own".


"MeFi's own" is a pretty nebulous distinction, I think. I've disliked elements of Charles Stross books before, and this essay was obviously designed to provoke strong reactions.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:50 PM on August 8, 2013


Wow, as much as Metafilter likes to hate on other things, we certainly do manage to keep a special level of internet dickishness reserved for "our own".

Have you ever seen MetaTalk?
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:54 PM on August 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Let's All Go To the Lobby

Do not nudge, kick, or jiggle the seat in front of you! I am sitting there! I am everywhere at once and I will cut you up! ... Do not crinkle your food wrappers loudly! Be considerate to others or I will bite your torso and give you a disease!

That's a sentiment we can all get behind. Or go to the re-education camp.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:57 PM on August 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


♪ Get your ass to the lobbbee, or I'll give you such a smack! ♬
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:12 PM on August 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


But seriously, I don't think anyone is arguing for SILENCE in the movies, like Anil's strawman points out. If you're REACTING to what's on the screen, it makes the movie better for everyone. Laughter at good lines, gasps of horror in horror movies - those improve the movie.

No, the sound and reactions of other people does not improve the experience for me, at all. All sounds from other viewers make it worse. But I know I’m in the minority there so I’m not arguing for it, and try not to let it bother me.

But I believe that the people who expect and enjoy a loud interactive experience are very much in the minority, only they don’t know it because they’re so self centered. These are the people who will tell you "everyone does it" when describing their own bad habits, and believe it. And as has pointed out, if there are 100 people in a theater 1 loud person ruins it for the other 99, the quiet people don’t ruin the movie for the loud ones. Self centered.

I prefer watching most movies at home because that's how I can actually watch a movie without too many people talking and texting.

As do I. I know people in the movie theater business. This is one of their biggest concerns. They aren’t saying "hey great, we’ll just entertain the people who like to talk and be interactive" because there aren't enough of those people. But they know that those people are making a much larger number of other people stay home.

If people who liked to talk and use phones during movies really was the majority then that would be the norm, there would be no discussion. Theaters want to sell tickets to the most people. The description of movies in India bears this out and is a weird thing to bring up since it shuts down his whole argument. They’re not telling you to shut up because of some arbitrary archaic rule, they’re telling you because you’re bothering most of the other people and are too self centered to realize it.
posted by bongo_x at 11:13 PM on August 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


No, the sound and reactions of other people does not improve the experience for me, at all. All sounds from other viewers make it worse.

You need to go to better movies!
posted by edeezy at 11:24 PM on August 8, 2013


"MeFi's own" is a pretty nebulous distinction, I think. I've disliked elements of Charles Stross books before, and this essay was obviously designed to provoke strong reactions.



I am not super familiar with Anil, or his reception here, but I do seem to remember Jesse getting like a huge amount of shit over like a video he made about pants or whatever, and not even that he was wrong about pants, but that his tone about pants was wrong. I think the skepticism kicks in extra hard, when we suspect the subject of a post may be getting away with something because of some kind of in group favoritism.
posted by St. Sorryass at 11:30 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]



No, the sound and reactions of other people does not improve the experience for me, at all. All sounds from other viewers make it worse. But I know I’m in the minority there so I’m not arguing for it, and try not to let it bother me.


I don't see many movies, and one of the times I see lots of movies is at an annual horror film festival. Its so much fun to see a good horror movie with people, all being scared and gasping at the same time. And even silence can tell you something - I read about how silent the theatre got during the dinner scene in Django Unchained because there was just so much tension. And when that tension broke, people laughed and clapped.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:33 PM on August 8, 2013


There is a difference between reacting to a film with, essentially, one's body and augmenting that reaction with a networked device that emits light. (Put your OLED near-black bullshit back in your pocket.)

There is a difference between enslaved people and people who insist on using networked devices in places likely to bother others.

There is a difference between a renowned public intellectual who has written a thought-provoking article and a blogger-technologist trolling for views.
posted by mistersquid at 11:33 PM on August 8, 2013 [5 favorites]



There is a difference between reacting to a film with, essentially, one's body and augmenting that reaction with a networked device that emits light. (Put your OLED near-black bullshit back in your pocket.)


Oh, again, I'm 100% against talking, texting, and using mobile phones during movies.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:36 PM on August 8, 2013


I'm having a moment where I realize some oppressed people can use networked devices to fight that oppression and so, by doing so, would bother others.

To be more specific, I do not think the political importance of moviegoing etiquette in the United States during the first two decades of the 21st century is as acute as the hegemonic marginalization of the cultural practice of nonwhite immigrants.
posted by mistersquid at 11:43 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"You're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater."— Shepherd Book, "Our Mrs. Reynolds", Firefly
posted by ob1quixote at 11:52 PM on August 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you use hyperbolic and condescending language to address a group of people, as Anil did, the response is pretty much a foregone conclusion

Especially when you use social justice language and not so veiled acusations of racism to defend your right to be an asshole....
posted by MartinWisse at 12:03 AM on August 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


The description of movies in India bears this out and is a weird thing to bring up since it shuts down his whole argument. They’re not telling you to shut up because of some arbitrary archaic rule, they’re telling you because you’re bothering most of the other people and are too self centered to realize it.

This doesn't shut down his argument, it explains his perspective. It is both an arbitrary norm (for some criteria of arbitrary to be further unpacked, etc.) as well as many people understandably getting annoyed at (intersubjectively determined!) inconsiderate behavior. A little bit like same coin, two sides. People don't react well to this way of looking at it, only because it involves juggling multiple layers. And you kind of have to ask why that is so, and I would suggest it is because it entails critical thinking that strikes too close to home for comfort.
posted by polymodus at 12:05 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was with Jesse Thorn until he got to the part about clothes.

Everything's a fuckin' travesty with you, man! And what was all that shit about Vietnam?
posted by surplus at 12:16 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing about Anil's argument is that he claims that the talky people are a majority. But I've never seen evidence of that. Maybe US cinemas are full of people talking and pulling out their phones, but in the UK it seems like a small minority inconveniencing
the quiet majority.

Neuromodulator pretty much hit the nail on the head. Going to films is a stressful business for me, precisely because I worry that someone is going to mess up the film for me.. I'm all for appropriate response. I loved Clerks 2 mainly because I saw it in a cinema packed full of Kevin Smith fans, and enjoed Intolerable Cruelty less because the audience I was with did not respond to it. One of my favourite moments was the laughter and a loud cry of "No!" that accompanied the end of Inception. Those are natural reactions to the flow of the film, and very few people are bothered by it, I suspect.

I have some friends who I simply go to see films with, because they insist on talking to me despite me telling them firmly not to. The idea that anyone in the audience is smarter than the film is deeply unlikely. I paid to watch the film, not listen to some idiot's jokes. I have a similar irritation with hecklers at comedy gigs.

My most interrupted film experience was on an early date with my now wife. We had gone to see King Kong at the, now shut, Warner brothers cinema in Cambridge. When it had opened it was in stark comparison to other cinemas in the area, with properly tiered seating and large screens. However, it had not aged well, and we were seeing King Kong late in its run, and were thus demoted to a downstairs screen, which was tiny and not prperly tiered.

This wasn't the main issue, unfortunately, as there were a group of teenagers who clearly had no interest in the film, and spent a large part of it chattering loudly and even running up and down the aisles. Some time in the interminable jungle sequence of the film, this became too much for another patron of the cinema. A heavily pregnant lady stood up and started screaming at these teenagers, threatening to kill them, while her partner stood up, adopting the pose of partners of angry pregnant ladies everywhere, which is a desperate attempt to not get the anger directed at them.

After a back and forth over several minutes during which the pregnant lady came very close to clobbering the teenagers, the partner went and got an usher, who escorted both the teenagers and the lady from the film, leaving myself and my partner in peace.

We had probably missed about half an hour of the film, and I take it as a sign of the quality of that particular film that, as far as I can tell, we missed absolutely no plot points.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:35 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh why not.... Having lived in three Middle Eastern countries, I certainly get that there are different cultural norms and tendencies, and that I've brought some of mine along from the USA. I'm often out in a (loose-fitting) Hawaiian shirt and wearing a SF Giants cap to keep the sun off my face -- and I'm not offending anyone (unless there are Dodgers' fans around).

Obviously there are some American-me things I could do that people would find somewhere between annoying and offensive -- and I don't do 'em. My life somehow manages to go on in good order.

More relevant to the articles, movie theaters in the UAE and Kuwait are beyond notorious for people talking, texting, etc. Fair enough. I don't go.

(As someone above noted, I'm among the people find the nearby whispered and murmured conversations to adversely affect my hearing, seemingly more so than other people are affected. I do politely ask people to be quiet, I will move if the theater's not crowded and I have complained to ushers.)
posted by ambient2 at 2:43 AM on August 9, 2013


Agreeing with Cannon Fodder here - in the UK, you get some conversation during the film, and some numbnuts with their BLINDING phones on (jesus christ, people, it's called Screen Filter and it's free. If it's really important to visit Facebook on your giant tablet so that everyone can see and read about your Uncle Dave's pub lunch, at least darken the screen), but most people have it instilled into them at an early age that the cinema is for quiet contemplation and occasional cheering of the scene played out in front of them.

We tend to get large groups of obnoxious young people who aren't interested in the film whatsoever. The worst was when we were watching 2046, and a group of teenage girls decided to theatre-hop in. And then realised they were in a subtitled film about quiet moments and lost opportunities.

We might have gone a bit mental at that.

But then there are times where the noise is welcomed. When we saw the botched photocopy that was Star Trek Into Darkness, I was sitting next to a girl who was a huge Star Trek nerd. And her gasps and whimpers and cheers totally brightened up a rather appalling movie. When you're watching a Harry Potter movie, and a small child's voice pipes up with "Is he going to be okay?" When you're surrounded by nerds in a Joss Whedon film and right when he decides to kill off a favourite character, you can hear everyone's gasps and know that someone is about to mutter "Whedon, you bastard."

Or when a movie is just so painfully and utterly dire that you end up laughing with the rest of the audience, because you can't believe you're all actually sitting in this fucking theatre watching this fucking thing and nobody's left yet. (Oh, House of the Dead. I don't even know.)

So sometimes, noise is good. But most of the time, I want to follow what's happening on the screen, and you chattering away with your mates is not helping.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:47 AM on August 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Alternatively, the Wittertainment Code of Conduct.
posted by liquidindian at 4:06 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


How hard is it to notice that there is a difference between people reacting at, say, the opening night of the latest sci-fi blockbuster vs. people using their phones, talking over the dialogue, and basically doing all the things that the theater itself SPECIFICALLY TELLS YOU NOT TO DO IN THEIR SPACE BEFORE THE FILM!

If he doesn't like the theater's rules, and is upset when people call him on it... he should leave. But he shouldn't get on his high horse and act like someone is taking away his freedom of speech in an act of rightwing totalitarianism, because, well... his freedom quite literally doesn't extend into someone else's space.

(But hey, he should know this after all the lusers he's permabanned from his various web projects.)
posted by markkraft at 4:27 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


IM PRETTY SURE THAT THE INTERNET IS MADE FOR PEOPLE TO TALK AS LOUDLY AS THEY WANT THROUGH ABOUT WHATEVER THE HELL THEY WANT TO TALK ABOUT IN ANY WAY THAT THEY WANT TO TALK BECAUSE HEY WE'RE JUST HAVING FUN HERE AND ITS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EXPERIENCE, AND i'M MAKING IT BETTER BY GIVING YOU ALL A GREAT BIG DOSE OF

l

o


l


z!!!
posted by markkraft at 4:37 AM on August 9, 2013


(Also, in the interest of free speech and to encourage the fun of participation, I think MeFi should implement a flash tag, and allow embedding of large, custom-sized images and animated gifs! But they probably won't do this cause they're fascists.)
posted by markkraft at 4:41 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


I would pay good money for any of the pro-talking/texting people in this thread to try that shit around Patti Lupone.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:00 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dewey Decimal-ize, surely?

Do I look like some low rent Pube-Brarian to you? El-Oh-See, muthafuckaaaaaaaaaazzzzzz

*insert dance fighting here*
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:01 AM on August 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


"I would pay good money for any of the pro-talking/texting people in this thread to try that shit around Patti Lupone."

Anyone notice that she only had a problem with the people repeatedly breaking the rules of the theatre, but she had no problem whatsoever with the crowd actively enjoying her performance?
posted by markkraft at 5:49 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd even give the talkers and texters the movies if they'd just stay the fuck out of live theater.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:08 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


markkraft, it's entirely different. A live show has planned pauses for the audience to applaud, laugh or whatever. They may not always be obvious, but they're there. Talking to someone else is a whole different thing.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:13 AM on August 9, 2013


I pretty much only go to movies after they have been out for a week or so, and only to the first matinee on a Sunday. Sometimes we get the entire theater to ourselves. It is glorious.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:24 AM on August 9, 2013


Audience reactions to things happening on screen: typically delightful

Conversation and visible phone use during the movie: you are inconsiderate

But cultural norms are arbitrary: neither news nor relevant
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:31 AM on August 9, 2013


(But hey, he should know this after all the lusers he's permabanned from his various web projects.)

I've literally never banned anybody from any website in my life, Mark. This is as inaccurate as your repeated attempts to take credit for LiveJournal's existence.
posted by anildash at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


sweetkid: "As a brown person whose ancestors are also from India, land of theater yelling, just like Anil, I would just like to say that I don't talk text or tweet in movies and think of movies as art more than entertainment. I kind of resent the implication that I have a simple mind because I'm not white? I mean what?"

Every now and then a thread turns up that makes me question why I'm on this site, but I guess on the whole it's a lot better than most others.

That said...

I have the western attitude when it comes to watching movies in cinemas - be quiet and turn off your phone. Noise/phones/chatters/babies annoy me just as they would to folks in the west.

But more generally, there's a trend I've noticed in the few western nations I visit regularly and from sites like this one - a growing sense that you should be able to move through urban spaces without being assaulted by the presence of others in any way - sight, sound, attention, chatter, whatever. It amazes me that people manage to live in dense cities of millions in seemingly constant wariness of unwanted eye contact, let alone conversation or - heaven help us - accidental physical contact.

I don't really see anything wrong with that, but it's a huge difference from the way Asians live their lives, and I don't think it can simply be written off as a population density issue. To me, expected cinema behaviour just seems like a reflection of that.

I personally find myself discomfited by both extremes, which probably means I need to find a new planet to live on.
posted by vanar sena at 7:11 AM on August 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


El-Oh-See, muthafuckaaaaaaaaaazzzzzz

I had library of congress with your mother.
posted by cortex at 7:13 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The author's view is legitimate, because it is preceded by a historical context—that of applause suppression in classical music performance.

Yep. E.g.:
[As director of the Vienna Court Opera, Gustav Mahler] codified the etiquette of the modern concert experience, with its worshipful, pseudo-religious character. Opera houses of the nineteenth century were rowdy places; Mahler, who hated all extraneous noise, threw out singers' fan clubs, cut short audience applause between numbers, glared icily at talkative concertgoers, and forced latecomers to wait in the lobby. Emperor Franz Joseph, the embodiment of old Vienna, was heard to say: 'Is music such a serious business? I always thought it was meant to make people happy.' - Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise
See also the history of theater--the behavior of a typical eighteenth-century theater audience would have you begging for a roomful of schmucks talking about football while playing Fruit Ninja. None of which lessens or minimizes the quiet modern moviegoer's frustration at having to listen to said schmucks (and I'm with the MeFi majority on this point--talk during the movie and I will despise you (but so what? why should you care if I despise you?)). But I think this history should at the very least make people hesitate before proclaiming that their own behavior is rooted in the inarguable nature of things while other people's behavior stems from a combination of ignorance, barbarism and your stupid face.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't really see anything wrong with that, but it's a huge difference from the way Asians live their lives, and I don't think it can simply be written off as a population density issue. To me, expected cinema behaviour just seems like a reflection of that.

Depends on what kind of Asians you're talking about.
posted by mistersquid at 7:26 AM on August 9, 2013


mistersquid: "Depends on what kind of Asians you're talking about."

South and South-East Asia, to be more specific. Only because those are the ones with whom I have any first-hand experience.
posted by vanar sena at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2013


I eagerly await a blog post defending people's rights to have speakerphone conference calls with their office doors open.
posted by COBRA! at 7:34 AM on August 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


DaDaDaDave: "[As director of the Vienna Court Opera, Gustav Mahler] codified the etiquette of the modern concert experience, with its worshipful, pseudo-religious character. Opera houses of the nineteenth century were rowdy places"

I'm sure I've mentioned this here before, but western classical music performances in India are hilarious for this reason. Half the audience claps between pieces, and is almost matched in volume by the grumbling and eye-rolling of the other half.
posted by vanar sena at 7:36 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


vanar sena: I don't really understand how your comments relate to mine. I don't mean that as snark - I just don't get what you're saying - being Indian American in America is an extremely different experience than being an Indian person in India - and I have to say that my Indian relatives in India don't shout at the screen either. I just don't like blanket statements of any kind.

I don't actually think Anil Dash was saying that brown people are stupid - it would seriously make no sense for him to say that - I just get really irritated at this sort of false cultural split that is continually allowed to pass - "white people are nerdy! wealthy! gentrifiers!" "brown people are poor! like simple things! are stopped and frisked!"

Especially because as a group specifically, Indian Americans are closer to wealthy nerdy gentrifiers anyway and I'm always bewildered to read things about race that imply that I grew up poor or can't gentrify a neighborhood or identify with a Woody Allen movie because of my skin color.
posted by sweetkid at 7:55 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


But Why Can’t I Urinate In My Seat At The Movies?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:58 AM on August 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


sweetkid: "vanar sena: I don't really understand how your comments relate to mine. I don't mean that as snark"

I wasn't directly replying to you with that comment, more just agreeing with the sentiment. I probably should have posted the rest of my comment separately.
posted by vanar sena at 8:00 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Step 1: Someone mentions a common practice that may have roots in cultural insensitivity and privilege, and suggests that we reconsider the practice in light of tolerance and equality.

Step 2: People who engage in that practice become incredibly angry. It appears that they are conflating "engaging in a culturally insensitive practice" with "being culturally insensitive".

Step 3: People who engage in that practice resist suggestions of change, on the basis that changing would represent a major inconvenience to them.

Am I talking about shushing at the movie theater or naming the Washington NFL franchise? You decide!
posted by Rock Steady at 8:01 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, in the interest of free speech and to encourage the fun of participation, I think MeFi should implement a flash tag, and allow embedding of large, custom-sized images and animated gifs! But they probably won't do this cause they're fascists.)

Yeah, this is exactly why this whole argument is obnoxious, trolly, rage baiting bullshit. Anil's brilliant, historically-contextualized (yet written in only 20 minutes, and certainly not worth interacting with, unless you've also interacted with his entire life's work) piece boils down to: if you expect cultural norms to be followed in a public setting, then you are a racist. Or at best a 'cultural conservative'.

It's nonsense and poorly considered. So if you're wondering why reactions have been so harshly negative, please keep in mind that the article explicitly compares a preference for quiet moviegoing to supporting Jim Crow.

It's the worst of tumblr social justice thinking.
posted by graphnerd at 8:06 AM on August 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


graphnerd: Anil's brilliant, historically-contextualized (yet written in only 20 minutes, and certainly not worth interacting with, unless you've also interacted with his entire life's work) piece boils down to: if you expect cultural norms to be followed in a public setting, then you are a racist. Or at best a 'cultural conservative'.

No, I don't think so at all. I think he is saying, if you assume YOUR cultural norms are going to be followed in a specific public setting, you might be engaging in culturally insensitive behavior.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:11 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


So wait...this wasn't satire? Holy shit.

Shut the fuck up, people! Your right to express yourself doesn't supersede my right to see and hear what I paid for.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:14 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


> to me, he's not saying, "don't talk about this," he's saying, "this isn't all I do."

"But you fuck one goat …"

I'm actually glad this was posted, because I used to feel bad for smirking at Anil because of the "professional white background" thing, because seriously, that was amusing the first few times but it got old and we should all just let it go already. But this? This is straight-up trolling, and his comments in this thread are so smug and condescending I will never feel bad about smirking again.
posted by languagehat at 9:00 AM on August 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


The special hell.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


A friend of mine did that once and I snatched the phone out of his hand and threw it on the floor at the precise same moment that, on the other side, his wife grabbed his ear and twisted it. Later, as he crawled around on the sticky floor bemoaning his terrible fate, his wife and I high-fived over his empty seat.

That is the most elizardbitzian thing I can imagine, and it is awesome.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:09 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, I don't think so at all. I think he is saying, if you assume YOUR cultural norms are going to be followed in a specific public setting, you might be engaging in culturally insensitive behavior.

I assume OUR cultural norms are going to be followed when I’m engaged in OUR culture. If I’m in a theater where the majority of of people are talking to the screen and using phones, wherever it is, I have to assume that’s what the majority wants and it is indeed a different culture and go along. As I said, I don’t like people to make any noise, but I know that’s my problem not everyone else’s.

The problem is the people who are so ignorant to what’s going on around them that they think since they want to engage in a certain behavior then surely everyone does, and would, if it weren’t for The Man keeping everyone down. The "I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking" people. No, everyone does not really want to be an asshole like you, it’s just you. That’s the reason for the big warning saying "don’t be an asshole" and the people asking you to please stop being an asshole. If yours were really the majority opinion you (you being the hypothetical asshole) would not be having this problem.
posted by bongo_x at 9:26 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Step 1: Someone mentions a common practice that may have roots in cultural insensitivity and privilege, and suggests that we reconsider the practice in light of tolerance and equality.

No, that's not what happened. Anil himself said:

lalex, I wrote the piece in about 20 minutes. I spent months researching immigration policy and Zuckerberg's political action committee for a piece about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, and distiller it into an easily digestible set of actions we cold all do. That's what I shared as broadly as possible. The self righteous folks in this thread were more interested in complaining about talking at movies.

I absolutely have been trying to get attention -- for important civic and social issues. If you only interact with me and my ideas about trivial bullshit that says far more about you and your choices than about me and mine.


So, more like: Step 1: Write trolling clickbait in an effort to either get attention for other Important Things he writes about or shame people who respond to the clickbait for being shallow for responding.
posted by rtha at 9:27 AM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Remember before invisible knapsacks and such when The aspirational ideal was treating everyone the same regardless of race? An article assuming that anyone acting like an asshole at cinemas was an ethnic minority would have been considered horrifically racist back then. Maybe they were better times.
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on August 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's a fucking polemic. Sometimes polemic veers into hyperbole and crosses some lines to be provocative. Not only is this sort of thing everywhere on the internet (and yes, part of what the internet is made for), but it's been in newspapers and pamphlets for centuries, too. It's not particularly clever to point it out as "trolling". Some of the statements in the piece were obviously intended to provoke.

In the last 10 or more years years I've seen a lot of talk about the troubles facing movie theatres and how to get people back to the movies. This is part of that conversation. The way people experience movies is changing. People watch a lot of movies in their homes, streamed from internet or illegally downloaded, and are perfectly content to do so instead of going to the theater. TV production is getting to be as high-quality as movies, and no one goes to the theater to watch TV. Maybe the creation of an alternative movie theater venue where people can be a bit more comfortable and have more fun and the rules were more lax would appeal to some people and could get them back out to the theater. I don't know, I haven't done market research, but it sounds to me from this piece that there are some people that might like it. Hell, a theater a fun atmosphere with beer and decent snacks might be something I'd even be interested in. It would certainly get me to the movies more than once a year.

I'd also like to point out that Anil Dash has said, in the piece and in this thread, that he is not someone who talks or texts in the movies. So maybe the "STAY THE FUCK HOME ANIL" stuff is not really necessary.
posted by Hoopo at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did I read a different article?

Here's what I'm seeing:

We have two cultures for moviegoing: Quiet and Chatty. However, we only have one kind of theater for both of them, which is officially Quiet but often de facto Chatty.

Places like the Alamo Drafthouse have been set up to be strictly Quiet for most films. However, there are no theaters that are explicitly Chatty.

If there were theaters/screenings that were explicitly Chatty, then people from the Chatty culture could attend those and not bother the Quiet people.

In other words, Anil is offering a solution to Chatty people bothering Quiet people -- give them their own space. If Chatty theaters quickly outnumber Quiet theaters, well at least the Quiet people will know where they stand. But given that explicitly Quiet theaters exist in a culture where all theaters are implicitly Quiet, I'm betting that explicitly Chatty theaters will be the minority.

Why is this so troublesome?
posted by modernserf at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also I find it telling that the Quiet moviegoing experience is referred to as "churchlike," given how much the 'audience participation' levels vary by faith & denomination.
posted by modernserf at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this was one guy's blog entry, and parenthetically I have no idea why anybody takes this guy seriously. He invented the internet or something, hookay, but still...

Thing is, yeah it's a buncha tumblr-wank, what with all the racial trolling and stuff, but as far as I can tell the real 'privilege' in the equation goes the other way. Like Vanar Sena said upthread, there are differing social norms in different places, and I really don't think anybody has the 'right' to never be bothered by another person in public. People exist, and might talk to you or around you, yes.

The thing that seems new to me is the idea that people have a 'right' to be interacting with their fucking phones and whatnot at all times, no matter what, and nobody should think twice about it. That's horseshit, is it not, obviously? You don't live on the fucking internet, you live on the planet. You can't get your head outta the cloud, then it shouldn't matter where you are, you should watch movies at home. (or find a fucking starbucks, watch your movies there...)

But if you're in public, and you've got your head so far up your silicon-valleyed ass that you think your right to constantly interact with your toys supersedes your obligation not to be a total insensitive dick to the people around you? Well, seriously, what on earth does that have to do with race or culture? It has to do with being an entitled, narcissistic and/or solipsistic jerkwad.

In the spirit of the general trolliness though, if someone made a similar social-norms argument, saying that hey, I'm an american, if I want to clomp around eating burgers and spilling beer and yelling and ignoring the people around me ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, at your wedding, at your tourist spot, in your wilderness, at the opera, in the movie theater, on the bus, in a restaurant, in front of your family, and it has to be OK because THAT'S MY CULTURE, JERK, that someone would be laughed off the internet, would they not? I fucking hope so...
posted by hap_hazard at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's troublesome because he was ridiculously condescending about it and tried to make the point that you're some sort of horrible imperialist if you want to hear movies. Well, okay, troublesome isn't a great word. Notable, maybe. It spurred a lot of discussion because it has the double whammy of both making a bad point and making that bad point with bad writing.

I guess it became more noteworthy when he showed up here and eventually retreated into saying that he's written all kinds of stuff that matters, man, and tried to defend himself by saying this:
I wrote the piece in about 20 minutes. I spent months researching immigration policy and Zuckerberg's political action committee for a piece about the risks and opportunities of immigration policy, and distiller it into an easily digestible set of actions we cold all do. That's what I shared as broadly as possible. The self righteous folks in this thread were more interested in complaining about talking at movies.

I absolutely have been trying to get attention -- for important civic and social issues. If you only interact with me and my ideas about trivial bullshit that says far more about you and your choices than about me and mine.
Which is funny (and, again, notable) for two reasons:

1. The thread is about the link posted and he's saying it's self-righteous to discuss the link posted and not some other thing he did somewhere, and

2. His argument takes as given that I had even heard of him before last night and as such would have any idea who he is and had made a conscious decision to discuss one aspect of his work over another.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:56 AM on August 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


We have two cultures for moviegoing: Quiet and Chatty. However, we only have one kind of theater for both of them, which is officially Quiet but de facto Chatty.

You're correct that that is what Anil thinks the problem is, and his solution would be accurate - if that assumption about the nature of the problem were accurate.

However, the thing is that this is an incorrect assumption of the problem. It is an overreaction to complaints about a third culture for moviegoing, which Anil isn't even acknowledging. We do indeed have the Quiet and Chatty moviegoing culture --- however, we also have a third subculture, the Rat Bastard, which is the real catalyst for such complaints about moviegoing. The Rat Bastard culture is not about lively interaction with the screen - the Rat Bastard culture is about carrying on conversations at normal volume with your friends that have nothing to do with the movie at all, be those conversations in person or via text message.

The mistake Anil makes is that he is assuming the Quiet people are complaining about the Chatty people when we're really complaining about the Rat Bastards. The difference I personally see between "Chatty" and "Rat Bastard" is that at least the Chatty culture is still engaged with the movie in some way - even if it's at a livelier level than my own - whereas the Rat Bastard culture is not engaging with the movie at all, which leads me to question why the hell they even paid to see a movie that they don't even seem to be watching.

The question you ask - what's problematic about separate theaters for "Quiet" and "Chatty" cultures - is already answered; theaters like the Alamo are become "Quiet culture" theaters, whereas the bigger chain theaters are already by default "Chatty culture" spaces. But the Rat Bastard culture, the true source of the complaint, don't really seem to be needing a special theater just for them because they aren't even watching the movie anyway so why not just go to a bar or something, folks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:08 AM on August 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


If there were theaters/screenings that were explicitly Chatty, then people from the Chatty culture could attend those and not bother the Quiet people.

But I expect that most Chatty people in American culture don't want to be in a theater full of other Chatty people that ends up like that video of an Indian theater. Instead, I expect that most Chatties want to be in a theater that is Quiet Except For Them.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:10 AM on August 9, 2013 [21 favorites]


I don't know if it's actually true that there are these sub-cultural segments that Anil proposes, or that they have racial and economic dimensions to them. If there are segments they might be more generational than racial maybe.

But I really don't know that they exist at all. "Don't know" as in: I lack the data to draw any conclusions with any confidence.

And that might be because even if there are such segments, it's pretty likely that they don't go to see the same movies in the same places at the same times.

Nowadays I don't get out to the movies much, but when I did, if anyone was talking or using their phone, in the places that I went, it was not usually some people with different norms because from an ethnic minority. It was typically affluent white folks who for whatever reason weren't in the habit of letting other people's convenience get in the way of doing whatever the heck they felt like doing.

I would have thought the "segments" problem pretty much solves itself for movies in much the same way that it does for restaurants. There are places for a quiet romantic evening, there are places for business lunches, there are places for big boisterous groups, there are places for foodies where gastronomy is treated with reverence. In my experience much the same happens with movies and cinemas.
posted by philipy at 10:18 AM on August 9, 2013


if anyone was talking or using their phone, in the places that I went, it was not usually some people with different norms because from an ethnic minority. It was typically affluent white folks who for whatever reason weren't in the habit of letting other people's convenience get in the way of doing whatever the heck they felt like doing.

Yes. Rat Bastards. And I suspect both Quiet and Chatty folks equally dislike them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 AM on August 9, 2013


This argument is so incredibly context-dependent. When I was in high school, I skipped class to see New Jack City with a (SE Asian) friend of mine. We were the only non-black people in the theater. The crowd was pretty raucous but it never occurred to me to shush anyone. I recognized that I was out of my regular social environment. This wasn't my space and I had no business imposing my social mores on the other moviegoers. It's the same as going to a Pentacostal church and admonishing them to sit down and be quiet (I was raised in the Presbyterian church, where shouting is NOT DONE).

But if I'm within my everyday sociocultural context, and silence is expected in the venue, I will most certainly shush you regardless of age, race, class or creed.
posted by desjardins at 10:47 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is this so troublesome?

It's not, really. I find the idea of having separate chatty screens and quiet screens to be a quite good one. I think most people would, at worst, not vigorously object to the idea.

Me, I am neurologically incapable of filtering out stimuli in my immediate vicinity. When someone turns on a phone on two rows up and six seats down, to my brain it's like they're literally waving it in my face. So the idea of them having a place where they can be online and text all they like or gab about whatever and let me have my quiet theater with people actually watching the film?

Great idea, and if that argument had been made using measured and reasonable language, there wouldn't have been as much backlash.

Instead of that, we got Anil throwing around terms like "intellectually bankrupt" and "psychopathic" and coming up to the line of calling people like me racist or classist (but not quite having the balls to step over, notice) or, at best...what, unreasonable shitheels?

Now, Anil's a damn good writer, and he's been doing it awhile. He in fact writes like a man who's been told on at least one occasion that when you write something, you should ask yourself a minimum of three questions: Who is my audience? What is my intent here? Did I achieve it?

If the answers to the first two questions are "group one" and "convincing them that they may be in the wrong here, and maybe a touch culturally insensitive", then the third answer is clearly "Jesus, you must be joking." The only way you get a "yes" is if you write the measured and reasonable essay, but that essay doesn't get the level of attention his did. That leads me to conclude that he wasn't really writing to convince people like me of anything.

No, I'm not calling him a famewhore as some have. But I never knew a writer who didn't want a big response to something he wrote, and stuff like his essay is really fun to write and, if you agree with it, SUPER fun to read. It's exactly the sort of thing you'd write and post in under an hour, still high from the joy of doing it.

If you are one of the "group one" people, though, he's implied that you are some very not nice things using language that could charitably be called "inflammatory" ("rude" and "shitty" are closer to the mark), and that is the part that's pretty troublesome. The best you'll get in response to that is an eyeroll.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


The worst screening I attended for this was opening night of Atonement at the Boston Common. An S.E. Cupp-esque woman and her companion for the evening spent most of the very quiet, very drawn-out film talking. At normal conversational volume. About their day. The only time their chatter even remotely touched on the film was when one of the characters was typing a letter -- the word CUNT appeared on the screen in fifty-foot letters and the woman behind me snorted, said "okaaaaaaaaaay then", and went back to her riveting conversation with her friend.

I also loved the roving gang of teenagers who came in during Let the Right One In and gave their running commentary on everything that was happening on screen. "Ew, gross!" "She's pretty!" "My grandparents have that wallpaper!" Cool story, bros, now SHUT THE HELL UP.
posted by pxe2000 at 10:59 AM on August 9, 2013


This essay didn't bother me at all, as it is clearly and hilariously wrong.

Let's do trepanation next!
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:10 AM on August 9, 2013


I find the idea of having separate chatty screens and quiet screens to be a quite good one

You can probably approximate this pretty well already if you feel so inclined. The cinema I'm most likely to go to is part of a somewhat indie chain, where a lot of the moviegoers will be part of their membership scheme. Given that it shows a fair amount of arty and indie films as well as the usual blockbusters, and sometimes has events like Q&A sessions with filmmakers, the audience tends to be inclined to the more attentive side.

Interestingly a lot of these indie cinemas seem to be in pretty ethnically mixed areas as well.
posted by philipy at 11:18 AM on August 9, 2013


This essay didn't bother me at all, as it is clearly and hilariously wrong.

The essay has a valid point and it does bother me, a little, that otherwise well-educated people in this thread have resorted to accusations of "trolling". No, not just because I disagree, but because I am seeing this as intelligent people suddenly unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of their cultural paradigm, even for just a minute. The mechanisms expressing various defensiveness, vitriol, dismissal, and largely faulty counter-arguments, are not that different from those I see in other minority v.s. majority contexts, except that the tables are turned—the defenders are now merely defensive. This inconsistency in worldview disappoints me.
posted by polymodus at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Great essay. Spot on. The immediate and stereotypical knee-jerk reaction from Metafilter here is unfortunately not surprising. At all.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean just ask me what I think about the French new wave and woody Allen and especially the former's effect on the latter but not during the movie ok

[Insert 400 Blows joke]
posted by ersatz at 12:08 PM on August 9, 2013


Wow, as much as Metafilter likes to hate on other things, we certainly do manage to keep a special level of internet dickishness reserved for "our own".

I think that phenomenon is mostly explained thusly.

Also, I hope that one day I have a prestigious blog, so that I can be part of the chain of "MetaFilter's Own" bloggers that gets to respond to things.

Jealousy is natural.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:11 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


if anyone was talking or using their phone, in the places that I went, it was not usually some people with different norms because from an ethnic minority. It was typically affluent white folks who for whatever reason weren't in the habit of letting other people's convenience get in the way of doing whatever the heck they felt like doing.

Yes. Rat Bastards. And I suspect both Quiet and Chatty folks equally dislike them.


For the record, I am a Quiet one. I can't talk because I need to pay attention to the movie, and I am very concerned about bothering other people. But I myself am not bothered one bit by people (silently) texting and/or tweeting.

Flash cameras, loud talking, sure. But c'mon. Texting? Really? The movie screen is HUGE!

For some reason, I'm more offended by people texting or emailing at baseball games. Been to a game lately? Heads up for foul line drives, people!
posted by mrgrimm at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2013


If I didn't know better, I'd say Anil's post was Grade-A satire. If not wanting to be in a theater full of people talking and texting makes me a cultural imperialist, well, long live the empire, old chap.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I am seeing this as intelligent people suddenly unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of their cultural paradigm, even for just a minute.

Well, you're seeing it in an absurdly wrong way, then. I for one am perfectly willing to entertain a view from outside my cultural paradigm, and in fact have spent much of my life seeking out such views; I suspect that's true of most people here. If people are "unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of their cultural paradigm, even for just a minute," what are they doing on MetaFilter? You (and other Defenders of the Anil) are pretending that those of us who object to the essay are therefore prissy people who want to deny everyone else their culture (and probably put them into camps as well). That's bullshit, but I'm not going to bother explaining why, because if you've read all the responses here and can still come up with that, you're clearly... how shall I put it?... unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of your cultural paradigm.
posted by languagehat at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2013 [15 favorites]




If I didn't know better, I'd say Anil's post was Grade-A satire. If not wanting to be in a theater full of people talking and texting makes me a cultural imperialist, well, long live the empire, old chap
.

ew, that's not funny.
posted by sweetkid at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


At least next time it happens I will be able to throw a segmentation violation.

That will keep me amused. And possibly annoy people who wonder why I'm chuckling to myself for no apparent reason.
posted by philipy at 12:30 PM on August 9, 2013


It's exaggeration for comic effect; it was once a perfectly cromulent practice.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:33 PM on August 9, 2013


The exaggeration, I mean. (Since I probably have to say it: I do not seriously advocate the establishment of an empire, be it Roman, British, or Galactic. (Okay, maybe Galactic because Star Destroyers are awesome. (Again, joking. (Not really, they ARE awesome.))))
posted by entropicamericana at 12:38 PM on August 9, 2013


What did you guys used to do when people smoked in movie theaters?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:39 PM on August 9, 2013


What did you guys used to do when people smoked in movie theaters?

Be not born yet.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:42 PM on August 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


What did you guys used to do when people smoked in movie theaters?

PROTIP: We still do. The rule is pass to the left.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


You should really use a vaporizer
posted by Ad hominem at 12:47 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


What did you guys used to do when people smoked in movie theaters?

F'in smoke, you betcha. Elevators, grocery stores, buses, smoked everywhere. And yeah, I was a teenager, but I smoked Pall Mall straights, because fuck yeah nicotine.

/dinosaur

/not dead yet, fuckers
posted by hap_hazard at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not fine with running commentary from the dipshit in the row behind me.

I used to have a cineaste friend who had a fair selection of Criterion discs. His roommate wandered by one day while he was watching something and listening to the commentary and the roommate immediately branded my friend a hypocrite -- "You said you hated it when people talked during movies!"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:51 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


10 I rarely go to movies anymore

20 Every time I do there's someone (usually several someones) who can't sit down and shut up and not play with their goddamn phone for 2 hours.

30 GOTO 10
posted by Legomancer at 12:54 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


What did you guys used to do when people smoked in movie theaters?

Oh sorry what I meant to say was that I wrote trolling articles on my web-log about how anybody who didn't like smoking in theaters (given that it was a cultural fucking norm of my people) were probably racist, cultural-imperialist crybabies who were on the wrong side of history.

Except that there wasn't any AOL back then so I had to send my web-logs via the telegraph, AND THAT'S WHY YOUR GRANDAD ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE SHOUTING ON THE INTERNETS.

/glad you asked
posted by hap_hazard at 12:59 PM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


pretending that those of us who object to the essay are therefore prissy people who want to deny everyone else their culture

Nope. Just think the reactions are sort of crazy.
posted by Hoopo at 1:04 PM on August 9, 2013


Yeah it is strange to think people used to light shit on fire in movie theaters and then it got banned and life went on.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:05 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lack of respect for others and deliberate ruining of experience does make me kinda crazy.
posted by agregoli at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2013


What did you guys used to do when people smoked in movie theaters?

Wow. Wait? Has this clip not been linked yet?!
posted by Atreides at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought Atreides' link was going to go here.
posted by pxe2000 at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we should just close the thread right now and let those two links symbolically represent the discussion.
posted by Atreides at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


failing that, someone should tweet at John Waters and see if he wants to weigh in. I bet he is against txting but for throwing popcorn.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


dogrose: "you're every bit the dimming-ninja"

It's really just a single slidey thing to cut the backlight. Or take Katemonkey's advice and install something like Screen Filter. Achievement unlocked without diluting your ninjutsu.

In reality, I do think what's acceptable is culturally and time-bound. Cultures change. Many people sitting in a cinema have a second screen. Our social etiquette for accommodating second screen use in cinemas has not yet evolved, and people apparently remain unschooled in basic principles or desirability of minimizing disturbance to others. These things will come, with time, just as tidy parking and traffic lights and street stop signs did eventually emerge a couple of decades after horseless carriages spread everywhere. Or the way people used to keep telephones locked away in closets in their hall, but then they came out of the closet (still in heavy drag though) before becoming intimate and personal.
posted by meehawl at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2013


See, guys, it's satire. If Mr. Dash had simply entitled his essay A Modest Proposal: Let's All Yap on the Phone and Talk and Text and Twitter During Movies at the Theater, you wold all understand that. Because that kind of behavior is as bad as eating babies.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2013


No, really, please don't stop getting your phone out during a movie. I absolutely love shaming you. I've done it before and I'll keep doing it. Loudly.
posted by Big_B at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2013


Lack of respect for others and deliberate ruining of experience does make me kinda crazy.

He's actually asking for a bit of respect for people with different cultural norms and explicitly not advocating that everyone whip out their phones and start texting and talking in the movies. He also says he doesn't even mind a person making a text in a movie and perceives it to be a fairly minor distraction in a lot of cases. And he doesn't do it himself. So what is the problem? He's deliberately ruining your experience of...shushing people?
posted by Hoopo at 2:51 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Anil Dash would agree to let me sit next to him the next ten times he goes to see a movie in a theater, I can pretty much guarantee he'd change his tune about whether chatty people should be shushed.
posted by straight at 2:56 PM on August 9, 2013


No, really, please don't stop getting your phone out during a movie. I absolutely love shaming you. I've done it before and I'll keep doing it. Loudly.
posted by Big_B at 5:32 PM on August 9
[+] [!]


You want to "shame" people for making a distracting disruption by...making a LOUD distracting disruption yourself?

What the
posted by sweetkid at 3:02 PM on August 9, 2013


He's actually asking for a bit of respect for people with different cultural norms and explicitly not advocating that everyone whip out their phones and start texting and talking in the movies.

See, all this does is tell me that he is actually so self-conscious about his own cultural background that he doesn't realize that different cultural responses to a film isn't even the source of the complaint, so that just makes me convinced that the whole premise of his piece is off from the get-go.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:14 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"He's actually asking for a bit of respect for people with different cultural norms..."

Yes, but these are norms of collective behavior in a social environment. There is a continuum of culturally normative behaviors that stretch from purely personal, such as what kind of underwear one wears, to purely social, such as how to interact at a public dance. Insofar as the behavior lies to the personal end of the spectrum, is the degree to which the majority culture should be expected to tolerate minority behavior. And the reverse is true — the more the behavior is a collective, social behavior, the less the majority culture should be expected to tolerate minority behavior.

Moviegoing is a social, collective experience, even within the context of the expectation of silent participation. The silent norm is the expectation of collective silence. It's not a norm amenable to individual or minority deviation, just like some other collective norms are not, such as queue-behavior, mass-transit behavior, table manners in a social environment, or social bathing. As long as the (mostly) silent moviegoing experience is the majority cultural norm, there is no room for non-silent behavior in the default moviegoing venue. Not tolerating non-silent behavior isn't a form of cultural conservatism or white privilege — that's where Anil is being both absurd and offensive.

There's nothing wrong with his suggestion that there be venues set aside for the non-silent experience — that's a good suggestion. But that's a different proposition than his argument that intolerance of non-silent behavior in ordinary venues is somehow ethically wrong. Indeed, violating the local cultural norm of these kinds of social experiences is what is ethically wrong. That Anil wrote this in "twenty minutes" is evident in that his argument is incoherent — he somehow asserts the validity of various cultural norms (Indian moviegoing experience) while denying the validity of a particular cultural norm (American moviegoing experience).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:42 PM on August 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


different cultural responses to a film isn't even the source of the complaint

the source of what complaint? Have you considered it's possible you are talking about different things? That part where he's talking about a hypothetical full-on conversation about cricket scores during the baptism scene in the Godfather? He's talking about what might happen in a theater in India, not here. He's not advocating that it is a thing that should happen here, either. He's saying things are changing--with respect to devices in the movie theater and the different cultural experiences and expectations people are bringing with them into the movie theater--and they're probably going to continue to change and you're probably not going to win this one in the long term.

I should add I am still super lost about the talking in concerts thing. Are we talking about, like, an orchestra or chamber music or something? Because concerts in my experience are like big, loud, raucous parties with absurdly loud music, people dancing, singing, shouting, drinking, talking and generally having fun. Most even have a bar serving drinks throughout the performance right there in the venue. I mean, is that stuff distracting you from the experience? They do make recordings if you want to sit down in silence and listen to music, you know.
posted by Hoopo at 3:47 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid: "No, really, please don't stop getting your phone out during a movie. I absolutely love shaming you. I've done it before and I'll keep doing it. Loudly.
posted by Big_B at 5:32 PM on August 9
[+] [!]


You want to "shame" people for making a distracting disruption by...making a LOUD distracting disruption yourself?

What the
"

Yes. This one time it was met with a bunch of clapping! And that was even more distracting! BUT EVERYONE LOVED IT! And the moron didn't take out his phone again.
posted by Big_B at 3:49 PM on August 9, 2013


It's not a norm amenable to individual or minority deviation, just like some other collective norms are not, such as queue-behavior, mass-transit behavior

I fucking wish
posted by Hoopo at 3:52 PM on August 9, 2013


Have you considered it's possible you are talking about different things? That part where he's talking about a hypothetical full-on conversation about cricket scores during the baptism scene in the Godfather? He's talking about what might happen in a theater in India, not here. He's not advocating that it is a thing that should happen here, either.

Well, then, if he doesn't think it should happen here, then why is he defending the possibility OF it happening here?

I should add I am still super lost about the talking in concerts thing. Are we talking about, like, an orchestra or chamber music or something? Because concerts in my experience are like big, loud, raucous parties with absurdly loud music, people dancing, singing, shouting, drinking, talking and generally having fun. Most even have a bar serving drinks throughout the performance right there in the venue. I mean, is that stuff distracting you from the experience? They do make recordings if you want to sit down in silence and listen to music, you know.

....And those recordings also come in handy if you wanna have a loud raucous party with an open bar at your house and have your friends over to hang out. And I encourage you to do that if you want to hang out with your friends, so the people who saved up a hell of a lot of money for the concert ticket can actually enjoy the show rather than listening to you talking about your job with your friends.

And interestingly, I have an anecdote for you: the last concert I went to was Great Big Sea, and I was sitting in a section of people that were glued to their camera phones taking pictures throughout the whole show. And they bothered me - not because I was expecting churchlike silence, but because they weren't being raucous ENOUGH. They were sitting there glued to their phones and I was the only one in my section who was jumping up and singing along and I felt like a tool. I ultimately went back five rows to join the ten guys who were hollering along to everything.

The people who complain about people glued to their cell phones the whole time aren't always expecting churchlike silence, you know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:53 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me this is a higher-stakes version of vending machine lotto. Usually you win when you put money in the vending machine and out comes your coke or your snickers or whatever. Sometimes the machine eats your money and doesn't dispense your sugar portion and you lose. Some people get upset and start jiggling the machine and even tip it and even tip it onto themselves and suffer severe injury or death. Some people take a less grasping view and walk away and they are a good loser. (Actually I think they are more winners than losers but English can be weird like that.)

Life is a box of chocolates and you never know what you are going to get when you pay to enter a publicly accessible show or movie and your audience neighbors can be rude and obnoxious and disrespectful. If they are bad enough I just walk away and lose at audience lotto. I cannot imagine shushing a stranger or asking them to behave differently. It's not worth it. I would much rather just eat the price of the ticket and go elsewhere and be happy by myself as the next best thing to having polite audience neighbors. Going through life getting pissed off every time you are justified means you will spend more time being pissed off than I want to.

Do you get mad when a baby is crying on the airplane?
posted by bukvich at 4:02 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


then why is he defending the possibility OF it happening here?

He's not?

the last concert I went to was Great Big Sea

Woah, I thought they were just a Canada thing

I was the only one in my section who was jumping up and singing along and I felt like a tool. I ultimately went back five rows

OK so we're talking about a venue with sections and rows of seats then. I can see getting frustrated with people talking loudly there; but my own experiences have been in smaller venues without any kind of arranged seating and frankly there's about zero chance I could hear anyone talking if they were standing right next to me
posted by Hoopo at 4:03 PM on August 9, 2013


He's not?

Well then what the hey was the whole digression about "it's a cultural thing you gotta accept it" for in the first place?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:10 PM on August 9, 2013


Well for one thing, this:

Picture it, shushers: A billion brown people disrespecting gaffers by not staring, devout and mute, at the screen while Grown Ups 2 is playing. The injustice!

was an attempt to use humor and hyperbole to drive home the fact that the largest movie-going market in the world (?) does things a lot differently than the US. I think what he's getting at is that if there are enough people going to movies in the US from this kind of background, or from the background of these young folks who seem to think texting is OK, then maybe some changes to the movie-going norm are forthcoming. Frankly I think he's right about the texting thing. Not that it's good (which he doesn't claim), but as these devices become more ubiquitous there's an increasing number of people who don't seem to give a shit about it for whatever reason--and that it's probably going to become fairly normal in my lifetime. Like what you were saying about the concert with all the cell cameras--that's the new reality for better or worse.
posted by Hoopo at 4:24 PM on August 9, 2013


I assume OUR cultural norms are going to be followed when I’m engaged in OUR culture. Who is "our" here?

I don't presume anyone's ever heard of me or anything I've done; I just know people who do know me on MeFi are aware they'll be rewarded for picking a silly lightweight post of mine rather than my more meaningful work. There's a hundred posts on Tumblr MeFi would disagree with, but if the same idea were from me, it's easier to get a lot of reaction.

I'm not troubled by that, or unaware of my complicity in it, but that was why I mentioned I do more meaningful things. This post only defines me to people who want to have a boogeyman; the same is true from the folks on Twitter & Facebook who have sent all the prank calls and threats of violence. Their anger is not about me.

More broadly, the vehemence of people's objections to any evolution of or accommodation of new behaviors in theater are about film traditionalists demanding obedience. Hunter Walk was as polite as I was inflammatory, and still had all manner of violent and abusive responses. Having seen that, there was no reason for me to be tempered in my phrasing; they just want submission.
posted by anildash at 4:28 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, you're seeing it in an absurdly wrong way, then. I for one am perfectly willing to entertain a view from outside my cultural paradigm, and in fact have spent much of my life seeking out such views; I suspect that's true of most people here. If people are "unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of their cultural paradigm, even for just a minute," what are they doing on MetaFilter? You (and other Defenders of the Anil) are pretending that those of us who object to the essay are therefore prissy people who want to deny everyone else their culture (and probably put them into camps as well). That's bullshit, but I'm not going to bother explaining why, because if you've read all the responses here and can still come up with that, you're clearly... how shall I put it?... unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of your cultural paradigm.

What?
posted by polymodus at 4:30 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you get mad when a baby is crying on the airplane?

That analogy doesn't work.

Unless I have a parachute, I can't leave the airplane.

Also, there's a big difference between a one dollar coke and an eight or ten dollar movie ticket.
posted by KHAAAN! at 4:31 PM on August 9, 2013


Do you get mad when a baby is crying on the airplane?

Babies cannot control their behavior. Adults can. This much, surely, is uncontroversial.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:32 PM on August 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well for one thing, this:

Picture it, shushers: A billion brown people disrespecting gaffers by not staring, devout and mute, at the screen while Grown Ups 2 is playing. The injustice!

was an attempt to use humor and hyperbole to drive home the fact that the largest movie-going market in the world (?) does things a lot differently than the US.


But MY point is, the "thing they do differently" is not texting, it is talking back to the screen. And my fear is, he's confusing mine and others' complaints about "people who talk during the movies" as being complaints ABOUT people who talk back at the screen. But they're not - they're complaints about "people who talk to their friends and don't even watch the movie." Which he also dislikes too.

So while you do have a point about HIS point that "there's a cultural basis for this that could overwhelm us," it was precipitated by something different to what he was thinking.

In short, here's how I'm seeing the conversation happening:

"Boy, people who talk during the movies really get on my nerves."
"Hey, it's a cultural difference, and you shouldn't be prejudiced about it! I mean, the people who talk about their cats during Hitchcock movies piss me off too, but it's really common for people to be talking back at the screen during movies in these countries..."

And he's not getting that I'm saying "...Uh, I'm talking about the people that talk about their cats during Hitchcock movies too."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:32 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


is not texting, it is talking back to the screen. And my fear is, he's confusing mine and others' complaints about "people who talk during the movies" as being complaints ABOUT people who talk back at the screen.

it seemed to me like his example was about all kinds of talking about all kinds of things, not just back at the screen. I have no idea how true it is, but the point I took away was that the way Americans traditionally enjoy the movie theater experience in silence is possibly going to wind up a feature in specific, strictly-enforced venues like Alamo Drafthouse because behaviour and attitudes are changing for a number of reasons and it may not be possible to curb all these at the local multiplex.
posted by Hoopo at 4:47 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't presume anyone's ever heard of me or anything I've done; I just know people who do know me on MeFi are aware they'll be rewarded for picking a silly lightweight post of mine rather than my more meaningful work.

The thing is that it's incredibly hard to interpret anything as lightweight when your opening volley amounts to: "hey, you the reader are a racist and this comes from the same dark place in the human heart as Jim Crow and homophobia."

That is why this has gotten such a rise out of people. And the follow-up condescension doesn't help.

So why would any of us want to read your more meaningful work? Do you have a piece that you wrote between two subway stops about how getting annoyed at people walking slowly on city streets is The New Apartheid?
posted by graphnerd at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


So why would any of us want to read your more meaningful work?

You might not, that's fine. Why would you want to read only my least meaningful work, if you're going to read any?
posted by anildash at 5:25 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because it was the only one somebody thought was worthy of a FPP this week? Are you going to call out the OP now?
posted by entropicamericana at 5:37 PM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


FWIW it's sufficient idiocy and sufficiently commented up across the internet that there's a fair chance it would have made the front page regardless of who it's by.
posted by Artw at 5:40 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why would you want to read only my least meaningful work, if you're going to read any?

Because it's the subject of a post on MetaFilter.
posted by grouse at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have no idea who Anil Dash is other than the fact he comes up as "MeFi's Own" in conversations on this site, but I'm getting the impression a few people here want a piece of him. The link and his behaviour in this thread don't seem to really warrant this kind of response, and it seems like kinda harsh treatment. I mean, yeah, the link has some provocative rhetoric that's fine to call out, but ... am I getting the wrong impression that some of this is about something else or something personal?
posted by Hoopo at 5:58 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


For some reason I can't cut and paste the comment but I don't see how you "know" that Anil dash is ashamed of his culture, Empress, and that's a very sticky and personal accusation to make.
posted by sweetkid at 6:02 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hoopo he's very accomplished but also famous and arrogant and he's kind of famous for being arrogant.

I still like his work though, being arrogant isn't a crime. But I think that's why people like to tear at him.

I agree nothing about the link or his comments in thr thread warrants this behavior. Also I found metafilter through Anil Dash. He's been around a while.
posted by sweetkid at 6:05 PM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, you're seeing it in an absurdly wrong way, then. I for one am perfectly willing to entertain a view from outside my cultural paradigm, and in fact have spent much of my life seeking out such views; I suspect that's true of most people here. If people are "unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of their cultural paradigm, even for just a minute," what are they doing on MetaFilter? You (and other Defenders of the Anil) are pretending that those of us who object to the essay are therefore prissy people who want to deny everyone else their culture (and probably put them into camps as well). That's bullshit, but I'm not going to bother explaining why, because if you've read all the responses here and can still come up with that, you're clearly... how shall I put it?... unable or unwilling to entertain a view from outside of your cultural paradigm.

Nevermind that your 4th sentence undermines itself by demonstrating the opposite, but more substantively: you have attempted to apply my critique against me. I can be open to that, and will allude to this in the following paragraph. First and however, I have not been the commenter making unjustified attributions such as "absurd", or "pretending", nor have I been the one to narrowly frame this conflict as individuals taking sides against one another (e.g., in sarcastically repeating "Defender" you twist and obstruct my original use of it). In my comments up till now, what I have tried to talk about include: a) the historical contexts of theatre etiquette, b) drawing some connections between the attitudes in that context and some—not all—of the rhetoric that seems to be dominating this thread, and c) I talked about how I personally feel about this. These are concrete points and ideas, nothing like the fundamentalistic labels such as those that you have thus far offered. Constructive criticism requires both substance and civility, and while I feel throughout I have done my part in helping with this, I do not observe it in reciprocation. I am not interested in doing all the work here. More generally, I don't believe my prior participation on this website has reflected "absurdity" or "pretending", and so I would appreciate receiving some measure of benefit of doubt. I am interested in decent conversation, not ever-descendingly sloppy misreadings of one another's opinions or "arguments".

Again. Here's a personal story: I went out with my (Asian) mother to see a movie earlier this spring (I think it was Star Trek, i.e. general Hollywood output that I happen to like a lot—I think she was looking forward to Star Trek not in small part because the actors are cute). She is not young anymore. This reality was put into greater relief when I noticed for the first time (we haven't gone to the theater in literally a year) that her comments during a movie are no longer whispers, but rather low-level speech. She talks, partly to explain plot things to Dad, partly because of something weird or hilarious thing that's happening. What I'm trying to say here is that maybe when I was younger, I would have been more a stickler for movie etiquette. Remember, in this example I'm talking about an outing to see my favorite TV franchise. I'm trying to say that maybe one day, when you are with someone close to you, your perspective—maybe patience—on these kinds of matters will really change, too.

There was a previous thread about the privilegedness of "grammar Nazis", and I feel that is relevant and explanatory to the subject of this thread. There are plenty of other documented examples, if one makes the effort of looking them up.
posted by polymodus at 6:23 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I distinctly recall as late as the first Star Wars prequel, the audience of geeks shouting tons of stuff throughout the film (some jokes, some hoots and hollers).

Huh, I remember getting angrily shushed at for laughing out loud when Anakin's mother explained that little Darth Vader was a virgin birth. I mean shit, how is that not funny?
posted by homunculus at 8:24 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh shit, I forgot to close my TELEGRAPHY tag.

/STOP

thanks
posted by hap_hazard at 8:27 PM on August 9, 2013


Sweet kid, what is giving you the idea that I think he is ashamed of his culture? I never said that, and please do not put words in my mouth. "Self-conscious" is not the same as "ashamed".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 PM on August 9, 2013


But upon reflection, "self-conscious" was also a bad word choice and I apologize for that.

What I MEANT was - my claim is that anil assumed something totally different was meant by the complaints about movie talkers than was actually being complained about, and I speculated that a source for that assumption was having had to cope with other culturally-motivated complaints, unfair as they may have been. It's unfair for anyone to belittle genuine cultural differences - but it is also equally unfair to be accused of making those kinds of complaints when you weren't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:38 PM on August 9, 2013


Do you get mad when a baby is crying on the airplane?

Seriously? Is this a trick question? I start debating my chances of surviving jumping out.
posted by bongo_x at 10:45 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is what I’m always curious about:

These people who have so much disposable income lying around and burning holes in their pockets that they can afford to pay modern cineplex prices for a movie they don’t plan on watching, amusing themselves by watching videos, listening to music so loud that earphones don’t begin to dampen it, having conversations, and all kinds of other activities they could do for free at home, all the while preventing other ticket-buyers from seeing and hearing what they’ve paid through the nose for… where are they getting all this extra cash? Is this a 1% thing? Are they getting some kind of discount I don’t know about?

I only go to special events at the cinema now. Not only do I not have enough in my budget for movies I can’t hear, or properly see, I don’t pay to be physically abused, either. I don’t enjoy being kicked in the arms, shoulders, and head by the people behind me putting their feet up, or the headaches induced by the earsplitting shrieks of the unattended children people apparently forgot they brought, or the headaches induced by the earsplitting shrieks of teenage girls which seem to occur at random but probably have some trigger (my money’s on the hands of teenage boys reaching their targets). It’s not a lot of fun to have to bring The Big Purse because you know you’ll need an extra dose of every asthma and allergy medication because of the perfume overload that gets worse every year.

And it’s insane to expect anything else, because unless it’s Friday or Saturday night on a blockbuster weekend, the entire place is being staffed by 2 or 3 minimum-wage employees.

So, I hope the folks who enjoy the experience really do have as many barrels of spare cash sitting around the house as they seem to, and that ticket prices keep going up to make up for those of us who are losing the magic.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:18 AM on August 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


The whole article is a joke. No-one would claim to have paid to see both Showgirls and Transformers unless they were pulling your leg.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:38 AM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


A few months ago I was meeting a friend for lunch at her bookstore. I had arrived early and it was kind of a hot and humid day, so I decided to kill an hour in a nearby branch library. This was the same library that I had done a lot of studying in my university days and in my mind it would be a peaceful place to sit in the coolth and read a few magazine articles. Once inside, I found a dozen shrieking children playing tag, other kids playing with toys or playing computer games and a score of adults -- possibly the kids' benignly inattentive parents -- conducting high-volume conversations about Dancing With the Stars and the Blue Jays' lineup this year and that slut Gary is dating now. It was actually noisier inside than out on the street. A walk around the place revealed that there was need a side room for quiet study, and it was designated as quiet on Tuesdays from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.

A lunch I mentioned this to my friend; she said that the library had been ever more that way for years. She speculated that once the library had become tolerant of noise and commotion, they had lost a lot of their traditional clientele and been obliged to continually move further in the direction of serving their new clientele, which meant the end of the library=quiet days. Ultimately what had been a library for many years was gradually turning into a café and day-care centre with a bunch of books.

I cannot help but think cinemas undergo a similar application of Gresham's Law.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:25 AM on August 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


This whole thing is just exhausting, but I'll just say that as I read the piece, Anil isn't advocating talking in movie theaters. He's arguing that cultural norms change, that they don't come from a vacuum or some font of absolute truth, and not everyone in society has the same power in setting them.

I don't like talking in movie theaters, and I bet Anil generally, personally doesn't, either.

I think many of the responses here speak to the fact that people in privilege aren't often asked to question their privilege, so it can be upsetting when someone asks them to do so. In contrast, those whose cultural norms aren't privileged, like say immigrants or people of color or what-have-you, tend to have to face those things every time they walk down the street. Movie theaters happen to frequently be a meeting place for people of a variety of cultural backgrounds.

If you ever have the chance to do culture studies in an academic context, this piece is probably one of the first things you'll read (PDF link), because it does a really nice job of explaining what privilege is and why it matters for folks for whom it's been invisible.

I'd also say that this video from Jay Smooth is a great explication of the "I'M NOT RACIST! DON'T CALL ME RACIST!" reaction (and the stuff that provokes that reaction).

And none of this is a guilt trip or whatever, just... you know... with great power and all that.
posted by YoungAmerican at 1:15 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I’m a little put off at how this is presented as a race thing, "Brown people watch movies like this" etc. I don’t think people are lying, and everyone has their own experiences, but it’s not mine.

I live in a mostly Black area. I just happened to make my yearly random trip to the movies tonight and saw The Conjuring. The theater was about a third full. It was so quiet I felt self conscious because it seemed like my popcorn eating was the loudest thing in the room. There was one guy near me who made a little "eek" at the scary parts and the people with him laughed. Otherwise there wasn’t a peep, not even any reaction sounds from the audience, during or after.

Apparently the people in my area don’t understand how these cultural things work.
posted by bongo_x at 10:41 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’m a little put off at how this is presented as a race thing

Would you be put off if someone claimed that black churches are generally more lively than white churches? In my experience, mostly black movie theaters do have different norms. The focus is less on observing the movie and more on enjoying the movie together. Across the board this attitude shows up for late screenings, opening nights, and blockbusters or cultural phenomena (Snakes on a Plane or Sharknado type stuff), but it's just more prevalent in some neighborhoods.

Personally I'm more inclined to quiet, subtle movies in silent theaters - my favorite movie theater in NY was the Museum of the Moving Image theater where they didn't even allow popcorn - but different kinds of movies call for different environments. In some theaters, part of the fun is the audience.
posted by mdn at 11:29 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


The weird thing about the piece on reflection is that I've never noticed the people talking during films to be of a particular ethnicity. In fact, with almost no exception they have been groups of young people. This has been a continous fact since I have been a young person, so I don't believe it to be a cultural fact, rather that young people can be disrespectful and rude sometimes...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:48 PM on August 11, 2013


The weird thing about the piece on reflection is that I've never noticed the people talking during films to be of a particular ethnicity. In fact, with almost no exception they have been groups of young people.

In my area, it's almost exclusively young, white people of upper- to upper-middle-class appearance.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:34 AM on August 12, 2013


In my area, it's almost exclusively young, white people of upper- to upper-middle-class appearance.

It's funny that everyone is talking as if we go to these movies at multicultural theatres where there are 40% white people, 20% black people, 15% latino, 15% asian, and 10% of mixed or undetermined heritage.

When it reality, we go to theaters where 90% of the people are our same race. I live in a very integrated neighborhood and decently integrated city, and that still applies to me as well.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:31 AM on August 12, 2013


When it reality, we go to theaters where 90% of the people are our same race. I live in a very integrated neighborhood and decently integrated city, and that still applies to me as well.


I am South Asian and this is spectacularly untrue. This can really only be true for white people a and black people in a few handful of circumstances.

Can people quit telling me how my reality is I spend all my time segregated among my "own race" or only fellow "nonwhites" like we all hang out together or something. I live in NYC and basically all my friends are white or Asian, I am not living in a utopian fantasy where I think white people want to spend time with me where really they want to be around " their kind" and I'm around "my kind" and that's how it is.

It's more that a lot of middle class white people don't really notice that there are middle class Asians, blacks, Hispanics etc sharing their middle class/ upper class spaces with them.
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, movie theaters are pretty damn integrated in NYC, unless you only ever watch mumblecore movies, and even then.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:41 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went to a mumble core movie in Williamsburg with my East Asian date, and pretty sure there were a decent amount of other nonwhite people there.

The only time I've ever been in a 90% Indian audience is when I went to cultural performances as a kid with my parents. And no one threw things or ate loudly or talked or anything just watched the dancing/play and laughed at appropriate times for laughing.
posted by sweetkid at 8:46 AM on August 12, 2013


I suspect that the people who are speaking about "monoracial" movie experiences aren't meaning to cause offense, but are attempting to dis-prove the idea that the talking-vs.-not-talking controversies aren't necessarily racially based - i.e., "dude, I'm in a lily-white community and we still get obnoxious brats talking in the movies, so I don't think that racial-based cultural differences have anything to do with it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:47 AM on August 12, 2013


Yes, but you know what we say about "not meaning to cause offense." It's just something to think about.
posted by sweetkid at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2013


I understand, but I guess I wasn't clear that I don't think they were saying "every community is mono-racial". I meant that I am assuming the situation is more like this:

THE CLAIM ON THE FLOOR: "many of these kinds of clashes between talkers-and-non-talkers could simply be due to a cultural difference involving people who grew up outside the US where talking back to the screen is the norm.

THE DISSENTERS: "uh, the kids who talked in the film I went to last week all grew up here, and so did their grandparents and great-grandparents, so that theory doesn't really seem to hold water."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on August 12, 2013


Yes, EmpressCallipygos, although I can't speak for anyone else, that's exactly what I'm saying. The only difference between me and the people making the disturbances is that they're a bit younger and (apparently) better-off financially.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:49 AM on August 12, 2013


THE CLAIM ON THE FLOOR: "...many of these kinds of clashes between talkers-and-non-talkers could simply be due to a cultural difference ..."

Yes it is the "many" that is debatable.

It's not so much that people who go to a movie are "the same race", it's rather more specific than that. Even in any given cinema, the audience mix for movies that appeal to groups of teens are different to movies that appeal to people who like Bollywood, are different to rom coms, are different to art house stuff, etc. And it is not like any one person has the same expectations when they go to different movies. Yes, there are movies which I would like to listen to with quiet concentration, equally there are movies where that's not really important for large periods, and there are movies where a degree of audience reaction is a big part of the fun.

We don't have different norms for rock vs jazz vs classical concerts, or for soccer matches versus tennis matches, just because of arbitrary cultural norms. There are underlying reasons why some are best enjoyed one way, some another. Same goes for different types of movies.

Frankly stereotyping people's tastes by race is getting outdated. You can for example extrapolate Anil's tastes far more from his geekiness, his politics etc than you can from his race.

Like him we're all multifaceted, and able to adapt to the context we find ourselves in. Figuring out what kind of a crowd you're with and how to adjust to that is pretty standard equipment for any human being. Every boisterous kid I know, of every race, can pick up that that there are times and places when it's important to be quiet. If anything, most people in an environment different than their normal one tend to go overboard in trying to fit in.

Cultural differences probably account for in the ballpark of 5% of instances of things that people find problematic. Whereas in maybe 25% of instances the people doing it would normally not do it, but they feel like it's an exception this time for some reason. Another 30% is maybe due to lack of any established norms around mobile devices. And the remaining 40% is people with assorted dysfunctions, the less-than-sober, those with a tin ear for social niceties, and some who just don't give a damn about their effect on others.

tl;dr: My guess is 5% of things that people find irksome have cultural-difference as a root cause, whereas 95% don't.
posted by philipy at 10:11 AM on August 12, 2013



Frankly stereotyping people's tastes by race is getting outdated. You can for example extrapolate Anil's tastes far more from his geekiness, his politics etc than you can from his race.


YES. Which is why my plea was for people to quit saying "people do everything all with their own race anyway so talking about it like it's anything otherwise is just imaginary-talk"
posted by sweetkid at 10:42 AM on August 12, 2013


Sweetkid, I think everyone does agree that stereotyping people by race is outdated, and that in fact people were reacting to what looked like Anil stereotyping people by race with his statements.

I think we are all actually on the same page on this, just maybe on different paragraphs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:26 AM on August 12, 2013


I was responding to one specific comment, and it wasn't yours. No big deal, but I'm not sure why you're taking up the mantle on this. I feel like you took it in a (slightly) different direction, which is fine, but not what I was originally commenting on, which is this:


It's funny that everyone is talking as if we go to these movies at multicultural theatres where there are 40% white people, 20% black people, 15% latino, 15% asian, and 10% of mixed or undetermined heritage.

When it reality, we go to theaters where 90% of the people are our same race. I live in a very integrated neighborhood and decently integrated city, and that still applies to me as well.


Basically making it sound like people hanging out in multicultural groups is fantasy. Which isn't like, OMG horrible as a comment, but not true and unnecessary and something that comes up quite often when what people really seem to mean is "as a white person, I see a lot of other white people when I go places," which, uh, duh.
posted by sweetkid at 11:38 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would you be put off if someone claimed that black churches are generally more lively than white churches?

Since I haven’t been to a church in many decades, and never to a majority Black church, all of my impressions of that come from the media and I wouldn’t use that to make an informed opinion.

There seems to be a suggestion from some that "If you don’t like noisy people in theaters you’re being racist and don’t like Brown people , because that’s how those people are". I find that to be a weird point of view, lumping a lot of behavior together based on race, and a little too close to "they can’t help themselves". It also doesn’t align with my experiences.

I’m sure there are people here who’ve had the experience of going to a movie where the crowd was louder and more interactive, and a majority of those people were Black. "I’ve seen a lot of Black people yell at movies" doesn’t equal "Black people yell at movies". I’m sure there are people here who’ve had the same experience with White audiences, and wouldn’t draw a similar conclusion.

There are certain types of movies, certain theaters, certain towns, certain countries, where the experience of going to the movies may be louder or quieter, more or less social than others. I expect people to respect the cultural norm and the people around them. If I’m in a loud theater, and everyone seems fine with it, then I’ll deal with it or leave. If I’m in a quiet theater and one guy is being disruptive don’t tell me I can say something if he’s White, but I shouldn’t say anything if he’s Brown because the way they are. The race thing is a red herring, and has weird undertones to me.
posted by bongo_x at 1:06 PM on August 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, when I lived in DC (and went to a lot more movies than I do these days), I saw movies that had majority black audiences, more mixed audiences, and more white audiences. Funny thing? Comedies and blow-em-up movies tended to elicit similar audience participation kinds of things from every audience, regardless of race. Quieter/sadder/more dramatic kinds of movies also tended to elicit audience behaviors that were similar across groups - including shushing if someone was being disruptive or loud at quiet moments.
posted by rtha at 1:42 PM on August 12, 2013


late entry, I know, but Entertainment Weekly has a feature story on The Alamo Drafthouse. Funny world, if they're talking about that when the tide of talkers is drowning out the non-talkers...
posted by Mad_Carew at 1:23 PM on August 14, 2013


Ray Donovan Series 1 Episode 7 shh at 8:13 - Amen Motherfucker
posted by unliteral at 11:59 PM on August 17, 2013


I'm not a huge movie-goer, but when I do it's in Oakland and Berkeley. We've got pretty diverse crowds that show up to the movies, and in general people shut the fuck up, put away the mini-screens, and watch the movie. Maybe its because I mostly go to matinees.

The ABSOLUTE WORST experience Lexi & I have EVER had at the movies was in Oakland. Paramount Theater, that grand Art Deco hall. The movie was The Maltese Falcon, and the joint was sold out, with lots of people dressed in their film noir best. Vintage cocktail dresses, 40's suits, and fedoras, fedoras, fedoras! (Don't even go there; this is Oakland and we wear hats in Oakland) Mostly pale crowd, but certainly reflecting The 'Town's ethnic diversity.

Sweet Elvis, my mind was blown by the hootin' and hollerin' throughout the entire film. EVERY Bay Area reference brought whoops of celebration like the free-oral-sex-large-beer-or-foot-massage coupon dispenser on their seat arm just *PINGED* again. Are you people fucking kidding me? We all put on our fancy grown-up clothes to watch Bogie & Co. on this big screen in this beautiful joint, and suddenly it's Chuck-E-Fucking-Cheese in here? Really?

Never have I wanted a wrist rocket and a jumbo carton of Milk Duds so much as I did that night.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:27 AM on August 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, man, I like to think UK audiences are pretty mellow, but after today, fuck that.

Today, we politely asked a gentleman in front of us to turn off his tablet and his first person shooter (yes, really) whilst the commercials were on before the film.

We then relaxed and watched Elysium, which was not a painful experience, except for when the credits rolled.

At which point the man stood up and started hurling abuse at us for asking him to turn off his tablet. To the point of threatening to kill us. And telling us to stay in our seats. Or that he would kill us. For being bullies.

We did stay in our seats. We stayed in our seats until the staff came in (including the manager, as another patron had said "Dude, there is a guy in there threatening to kill a couple."). They were wonderful, making sure that there was no one loitering around outside (as we were concerned he would do such a thing), walking with us up to the next film we wanted to see (Jurassic Park in IMAX 3D, which was delightful), and even gave us free ice cream.

So the Nottingahm Cineworld is filled with lovely staff members. And customers who will threaten your life if you ask them to stop playing video games once the theatre is dark.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:31 AM on August 26, 2013


God that's terrifying. Sorry Katemonkey.
posted by sweetkid at 10:34 AM on August 26, 2013


We just discovered our local cinema that Sundance bought is now a booze cinema. That's our default cinema sorted then.
posted by Artw at 10:36 AM on August 26, 2013


Not that I needed another reason to be glad I live near an Alamo Drafthouse, but the combination of this thread and their serving a three-flavor Cornetto sundae during The World's End just makes me that much more loyal.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:41 AM on August 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


We did discover this coincident with our trip to see The World End, as it happens.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on August 26, 2013


The Movie Goer's Guide to Your Fellow Movie Goers
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on August 26, 2013


Fun fact: nothing anyone has typed with their thumbs has ever been important."

aw.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2013


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