Why I Hate Film #4: Other People

By Adam Glasspool

It may surprise some of you to read that I’ve never murdered anybody.  I may come across in these articles as frustrated and angry, and I am, but I’ve never actually pulled a Charles Bronson on the people who have wronged me.

I do get the feeling, however, that on the cold, dark day I do finally snap, I’ll be in a cinema.  Somebody will be whispering behind me, or eating loudly, or breathing obnoxiously, or existing and I’ll snap.  I’ll have done the ‘turn round and look’.  I’ll have done the ‘turn round, look, and tut’.  I’ll even have done a ‘SSSSHHHHH!!’ or, if they are an even mildly attractive girl without a male chaperone, a ‘can you keep it down a bit please?’  This is my entire repertoire.  After I’ve worn out these trusty staples I’m not entirely sure what will happen.  Usually it’s just a repeat of the final option, increasing in volume as we go.  But one day…

Now, some people will vehemently defend the loudest food on earth, popcorn, often by saying things like, ‘it’s a public space we should be able to eat what we like’.  I completely agree with you and I apologise for typing your comments in such a snively voice.  It’s my hang-up and I’m completely aware of this, but I once had to watch There Will Be Blood (2007) next to a friend who was eating popcorn.  The supremely written dialogue, deliciously sweeping score, and intense silences were all accompanied by what sounded like somebody gravelling a driveway.

As I type this there is a discussion raging over on the New Empress Twitter account about a ‘popcorn vigilante’.  This is a man who, becoming outraged by the volume of munched popcorn took it upon himself to grab the bucket from the offender and hurl it across the room.  I must make it clear that I do not agree with how he handled this.  He should’ve left the popcorn where it is and hurled the person across the room.

Yes, it’s a public space, so yes, you can eat whatever you please, but how inconsiderate do you have to be to noisily wolf it down like it’s the last piece of food you’ll have in days? At what point did eating and watching a film start going hand in hand anyway?  Hotdogs, nachos, crisps, chocolate, drinks.  It’s as if some people come to the cinema specifically to graze and if there happens to be a film on then that’s just a piece of jolly good luck.

I have also heard people defending talking in the same way as popcorn. ‘It’s a public space, I’ve paid my money, I can do what I like.’  These people are the worst kind of people imaginable.  I’ve had to sit next to people talking about every minute detail of their sexual relationships during Shutter Island (2010).  I’ve had to endure a very strange man who repeated certain lines of dialogue from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) and I’ve had to put up with somebody who insisted on laughing all the way through the rowdy, knockabout comedy Buried (2010).

You may have gathered that what  I dislike about film this time is experiencing it with other people. Sometimes if people so much as breathe a little louder I get agitated.  This is why I go on Tuesday mornings.  You try going on a Wednesday night. I dare you.  Ever since Orange started the ‘bring a socially retarded friend’ promotion it’s become utterly impossible.  It’s full of people talking, people eating, and couples sniggering at me because I’m alone. It becomes a deeply harrowing experience.

Pop along on a Tuesday morning though and it’s glorious.  I can sit where I like without people kicking me from behind, or whispering around me, or checking Facebook on their phones, or throwing things at me when all I’ve done is politely screamed at them to please ‘shut the fuck up.’

So if you ever see me in the cinema and don’t want to be on the receiving end of a stare that will split your spleen then it might be a good idea to adhere to the following basic guidelines.

Turning up on time is a good start.  I often get there three hours before the trailers start so that I have time to find the acoustic sweet spot, get the best seats and lay Rambo-style traps for people who want to sit near me.  Turning up while the adverts are on is just about ok.  Turning up whilst the trailers are on is unforgiveable.  Turn up after the studio logos have been shown and I may attempt to brick you into the walls.  Or something. Try to leave at least two seats between me and you in every direction.  I get a lot of people asking about this, and yes, it does include diagonally.

If you have to eat something blend it before you leave the house and install an intravenous drip; the quietest way of receiving nutrition.  Please do not cough or sneeze, save them up for later and have a ‘mega-sneeze’ once the credits have finished rolling.  Along similar lines, if we happen to be seeing a comedy please do not laugh out loud.  This counts as unnecessary noise.  Write down the joke you found funny, and any context you think it might need and laugh at it when you get home.  Take a deep breath as you walk into the auditorium and resist breathing until the film has finished.  See you next Tuesday.

Adam’s third ‘Why I Hate Film’ column is available in issue 3 of our print magazine which is out now.

6 responses to “Why I Hate Film #4: Other People

  1. You are right to blame these chattering, chomping, mobile-phone-using punters and their over-inflated sense of personal entitlement. Not to mention their total lack of manners, and selfish, anti-social attitudes. There is another dimension to this, however. The lack of ushers (bouncers?), particularly in under-staffed multiplexes, to deter or stop this kind of behaviour. I favour a RoboCop-style approach: i.e. taser-equipped response units in every auditorium, with the power to tackle and eject anyone whose decibel-level or light-emission rating exceeds zero. Cinema owners will cite the cost and health and safety issues as an excuse, but it’s up to us to pressure them into improving the conditions in their movie theatres, which are fast becoming noisy fast-food outlets with films projected (inaudibly) in the background.

  2. Awesome! This was the most entertaining (i.e. true) account of cinema troubles ever, enjoyed every word!

  3. Sounds like my cinematic life right there. Tuesday afternoons and 2 seat rule. Although last week’s screening of Sleeping Beauty (Julia Leigh, 2011) comprised an odd arty couple (fortunately not the loud conversationists who believe that everyone should be blessed with the brilliance of their discourse), several strange old men that resembled the ones in the film, and myself, young and 25 and pretty. Amusing.

    Good words though. Cathartic, I’m sure.

  4. ahaha C U Next Tuesday!

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