The Eight Golden Rules of Movie-Going

Since common decency seems to be a thing of the past, let's review simple theater etiquette

After reading Big Daddy Graham’s post last week about the worst theater in Philadelphia, it got me thinking (dangerous, I know). Yes, some theaters seem to have a greater concentration and preponderance of irritations (we’re looking at you Riverview and the Bridge). Yet, anymore, you’re not safe anywhere. No matter the theater. No matter the movie. No matter if it’s mainstream or independent. People just don’t respect movie-going.

So I sat down and made a list of all the things that irritate me. Then I took it to my friends. I did a Facebook insta-poll and created this list of the most common theater crimes. Some are serious. Some are just plain annoying. Some I’ve been guilty of. But together they are my Golden Rules of Movie Going.

1. Don’t sit directly in front of, or next to me, if you don’t have to. If there are only a few people in the theater, it’s just plain weird.

2. Don’t ask me to scoot down. If I was able to get to the movie with enough time to find seats, leave me alone. Sit in the first few rows of the theater like all the other late arrivers.

3. Leave your kids at home if the movie is rated R and/or starts after 9 p.m. Yes, I understand it’s difficult to get a sitter. But when I see a slasher film, I’d rather the screams come from the screen and not your child (see Rule #7). I’d also rather not think of the psychological ramifications that are being inflicted as your child watches a Predator rip out that guy’s spine.

4. It’s a movie theater, not an Indian buffet. Eat the Pad Thai before or after the movie. No one feels like smelling your garlicky shrimp platter or listening to you slurping noodles. It’s gross.[SIGNUP]

5. Turn off your cell phone. Unless you are on-call at the hospital, turn it off. If you must keep it on, put it on silent. And if you answer the phone, take it outside (see Rule #6). Also, if you need to check the time, use your watch—that’s why they were invented.

6. Don’t talk. Seems simple, but apparently it’s not. If you need to whisper one or two things throughout the movie, no one is going to care. If you need to yell at a stupid teenager on the screen not to open that door, scream away. If you need to have a full conversation with the person next to you perhaps you should leave, or … I don’t know … wait until after the movie. (This is also true for the previews. For many people, including myself, these are almost as sacrosanct as the movie.)

7. If your child cries, take him out of the theater. Repeatedly saying “shh” or “stop that” does nothing more than irritate everyone around you. (This rule is null and void if it’s a kids’ movie or a parents’ screening.)

8. Don’t text. Texting is just as annoying as talking. When sitting in a pitch-black movie theater, every little firefly, illuminated screen is distracting. If you cannot possibly be away from texting for 1.5-2 hours, perhaps you should stay home (see Rule #5).

Of course there are many, many more: the kicking of your chair, the face-shoveling of popcorn, etc… Not to mention all of the movie theater irritants (must we continue with the overly loud, overly annoying pre-movie commercials?). And yes, I acknowledge that no one is perfect. But just imagine what the world would be like if we all tried to follow these rules. You would never, ever again have to slightly turn your head and sigh at someone behind you. Nirvana.

So. What did I miss?