Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SHUT UP, you're at the movies!

New Yorkers love to talk - all the way through movies.

Last week I went to see The Avengers, a superhero movie in which lots of things explode and lots of other things go crash and everyone yells for about two and a half hours.

With the exception of the baby I recently saw at the post office that was doing an uncannily accurate impression of a fire engine, The Avengers is possibly the loudest thing I've ever witnessed.

So it's a testament to the vocal abilities of New Yorkers that I could barely hear any of it over the top of the audience's chattering.

While Iron Man, Captain America and Thor were noisily destroying New York City brick by brick, girlfriends loudly discussed who was the best looking superhero while mates whooped and hollered at every special effect and screaming children ran free in the aisles.

The man next to me even took a phone call (which, surprisingly enough, began with “Hey, I'm at the movies...”).

"Can you speak up? Everyone around me is making this annoying shushing noise."

Sadly, just like Thor's magical hammer after he fell to earth, my shushing had no effect on any of them. They were The Unshushables. 

The thing is, this wasn't an unusual audience. It wasn't, say, comprised of members of the National Society of Complete Tools on their annual get-together, or anything like that. It was just a group of typical New Yorkers, doing what typical New Yorkers do at the movies: talk.

Unless you go to indie cinemas (good luck seeing The Avengers there) or matinee screenings (and what am I, 60?) you will encounter this, and worse, behaviour in this city.

Incessant talking is bad enough, but you won't know true cinematic pain until you've settled in for a  screening of The Hunger Games behind someone with a tenuous grasp of irony stuffing their face with nachos, or a pizza, or hot dogs - WHICH THEY SELL AT THE CONCESSION STAND. Yes, you are actually encouraged to eat a stinky, steamy meal at the movies.

And try sitting back and enjoying Prometheus while the person next to you plays Angry Birds on their mobile phone the entire time – WITH THE SOUND ON.

When I saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which could hardly be accused of being a dull film) the guy in front of me spent the duration checking his text messages and darting out the door. I was convinced he was dealing drugs, which frankly would have been the only sane explanation for why he'd spent $20 on a film he wasn't going to watch.

Back in Adelaide, I'd avoid going to the cinema for much slighter reasons. Not being able to park right out the front, for example, or having to sit next to someone who breathed a bit too heavily.

But after nine months and at least six films either wholly or partially ruined by New Yorkers, I now see that Adelaide cinemas are a veritable paradise of serenity and good manners.

So next time you're at the movies and the person behind you starts crinkling their choc-top wrapper and rattling their Kool Fruits just relax, and remember: they could be crunching nachos.


This article was first published in Messenger News on June 7, 2012.


  1. Love it. Movie etiquette is so tricky. Hoyts here just recently got assigned seating, which made it even weirder that yesterday the only other movie going patron sat right next to my friend and I... what did the girl behind the counter think we looked lonely?

    I am a terrible one for talking during films and shows on the TV but I remain silent in the cinema which makes it really hard to be nice to my own friends when they want to chat during it...

    But like you said, at least no one's eating nachos. Great article.

  2. oh Petstarr, you should come to Singapore on a weekend afternoon to watch a no-rated movie. Compare to this, your experience in NY cinemas (i've been there, i know exactly what you meant!) is just a stroll on quiet beach alone at night.

  3. This is exactly why I am now the completely crazy lady who won't go to the movies. I will actually go to the drive-in because it's loud as hell and I can get away from people. But really, when did people start thinking they were in their own %$^#ing bedroom instead of a public place?!

    End rant. :/