So simple, yet so deadly. Nothing can disrupt a movie as fast or as ruthlessly as audience chatter. Even though we are all seemingly aware of this, it is something we can never escape, as some viewers will inevitably find a movie theatre the perfect place to host a loud and disruptive conversation.
Unlike other issues on this list, there is no defense against talking. We can seize people’s phones or force them to turn them off, but theatres do not, unfortunately, have the power to glue people’s mouths shut on the way in. Even theatres that commit to kicking out chatterboxes cannot preemptively strike, so we may have to endure several minutes of teenagers fighting with the auditorium’s sound system for vocal supremacy before the problem is solved. Talking is inescapable, and no matter what, it’s always the most obnoxious thing people can do during a movie.
It all goes back to what I explained on the previous page: We must adopt a stance of disbelief in order to watch and enjoy movies, and when that stance is disrupted – which non-diegetic players, like audience members, can easily do by talking – the stance is broken, and the film is momentarily ruined.
No matter how much we talk or complain about this, some people simply never get the message. Again referencing a recent Frankenweenie screening, the loudmouth group of teenage boys sitting next to me were talking – in their normal, full volume, ‘outside’ voices – for the first five minutes of the film. They did not even discuss the movie. I gave them several accusatory glances, but they refused to be quiet until I turned and forcefully told them to “Shut up.” Which they did. Because I am bigger than they are, and cowardice won out.
Some forms of ‘movie talking’ I find completely baffling, like middle-aged people who choose to narrate the entire movie out loud. Several years ago, when I went to see Pixar’s Up, the couple behind me vocally repeated every single action the characters took, chortling to themselves while they did so. Or how about the idiots who try offering characters advice as the film plays, shouting out suggestions as though they might telepathically affect the celluloid?
Modern movie viewers are rude on countless levels. Seeing a film with an audience can unfortunately be an endlessly frustrating experience these days, but I can at least see ways theatres can combat or stamp out some of these behaviors. Talking, though? Talking during the movie is an enemy we can fight, but never truly kill, for it is, it seems, in some people’s basic nature to be rude. Movies shall live on, but I mourn for the devolution of humanity.
What audience behaviors do you despise the most? Would you rather watch every movie on your own at this point? Do you think I took this all too far? Sound off in the comments!Previous