Tuesday, June 28, 2011

People Are People: Sssssh! No Txtng & Talkng! Don't Take Pictures!

This is the first of a series of featurettes about the funny and interesting idiosyncrasies and other out-of-the-ordinary human behaviors worthy of snark and smack.    

Have you ever had that experience in the cinema when the asshat person sitting just a few rows in front of you is busy texting or using his or her cellphone while the movie is playing? Irritating and totally disrespectful, right? However, if it's an emergency or really important like telling your parents to call back in an hour or so because you're inside the library doing a very important research about wizards and magic or vampires then better step out.
It's like playing hide-and-seek and you're doing your best to hide and not be seen (because it's hide-and-seek) but your dog tags along and gives away your hiding place.  Hmmm...Is that parallelism too off the track?
Okay, redirect: People pay to watch a movie inside the cinema not just to see the film but for the whole experience that includes a comfy velvet-lined seat with ample head and back support, drinks holder, a gigantic screen, high-tech digital surround sound (like you're in the mouth of the dinosaur while it's talking), and a hundred or so other people who know not to scream  before anybody else or to laugh when everybody else is laughing.
Since summer is the time for movie blockbusters and new box-office records, maybe it's time for you to review your theater decorum. In just a few more weeks, the final part of the 7th and last installment in the multi-billion dollar movie franchise Harry Potter from Warner Bros. will be taking over cinemas. People from all walks will be trooping the movie houses to get that "total experience."
Who are you among these typical theater goers:
  1. The K.I.A. or Know-It-All. This is the I-Know-This-Trailer-That's-Why-I'm-Going-To-Say-The-Title-Out-Loud-So-That-Everyone-Will-Know-I-Know-It person.
  2. The Radio Drama/Ringside Announcer.  This is the person who narrates every scene. For example: OMG! She's going to kill the guy but before that she'll kiss him first.   
  3. The Constant Inquirer. All questions with obvious answers. Why did you do that? or Why can't you do it? or Can't you see that? She loves you.
  4. The Commander/Dictator. Do it! or Kill him! or Run now! Fast! or Take it!
  5. The Accordion. Uh, oh... or Aah! or Aha! or Oooh...
There are some countries like the Philippines that play their national anthem before the last screening of the day and everyone, as a courtesy, is obliged to stand. In Thailand, they play their national anthem in honor of their King before every screening and by law, you must stand up and pay respect. I can't think of any sane reason for anyone especially foreigners or non-Thai citizens to not to stand up because if you don't you might end up in prison. If you want to understand why it's important, watch this:
Protocols and theater policies may vary from one place to another. Rainbow Cinemas in Toronto have "Mothers & Babies" Movie Night. In some places, you can get away with highly-disruptive behavior but not in the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in Texas. They'll ask you to step out or if you're too self-absorbed and perhaps too blinded by the customer-is-always-right credo, they'll kick your ass out and most likely blacklist you. They do it. They have the right to do so. In fact, it has become a much-applauded theater policy that's why they play PSA's before every screening.    
Take a look at this real Alamo Drafthouse Theater video of a female patron who was kicked out of the theater for refusing to stop texting and talking. This is her actual voicemail message, which the theater owner ingeniously turned into a PSA before every screening: 

Take a look at this local NBC news report about the Alamo Stand:

This was one of Alamo's old PSA's about the "No Talking, No Texting" policy inside the theater with a special appearance of the late governor of Texas, Ann Richards (R)

Broadway (live theater) is another world. It is standard policy in all theaters to prohibit clapping during the performance, to go to the washroom during a performance (they'll actually allow you but you wont be able to go back to your seat until the next intermission or interval), take pictures and video footage (or any recording) because of copyright protections and for the safety of the performers. Of course, cellphones are not allowed too. In some theaters, you are encouraged to leave it at the coat check. 
It's already a given that you can't take pictures during the show. But, did you know that no one is allowed to take pictures inside the theater especially near or in front of the stage? As it turns out, even the curtains and the ambient or setting screen are copyrighted. If you want to know more what you can and can't do in a Broadway theater, read this...
However, some people are really stubborn, ignorant, and utterly disrespectful. Performers can easily get distracted by a camera flash or a cellphone ringing. Just take a look at this video (which by the way was recorded illegally too) of Hugh Jackman in 1999 playing alongside Daniel Craig in the Broadway play "A Steady Rain" : 

Diva of divas. This video is the epic of all because it has the audio of Broadway legend and two-time Tony Award-winner Patti Lupone (Evita, Les Miserables, Gypsy) berating an audience member she caught taking photographs during her performance of the trademark "Gypsy" song, Rose's Turn. 
The next time you go into a theater, watch your manners and be mindful of others. If you can't, stay at home and watch on Netflix. Too bad, you can neither replicate nor equal a live theater performance at home unless you're that rich and powerful. 

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