People Who Talk In Movie Theaters: Target of H.U.S.H. (Help Us Silence Morons)

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I sold this humor article to the feature section of the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper in the summer of 1982. It documented the start of what became a lifetime of irritation with movie-theater talkers. I’m much better now (people have learned, I think), but this irritation led, in 1987, to a published letter to TV Guide, and later, in 1993, to a plot device in Mel Cool: Mall Cop (sample panel below.)  But it was back in Colorado the blood started boiling.

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Vigilantes Needed In Movie Theaters

Special to the Colorado Spring Sun
By Walt Jaschek

I’m not a violent person, really.

In fact, I’m the kind of guy who will capture an insect and set it free rather than endure the trauma of squashing it.

I will cross a busy street rather than confront vicious-looking squirrels and rabbits.

I will befuddle mugger in dark alleys by breaking an a capella rendition of “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.” (Experience has shown that any song from “Oklahoma” will scare off the criminally inclined.)

So we should establish at the outside I’m an average, gentle fellow, spending my days pondering the meaning of life, examining man’s inhumanity to man, and devising methods for getting that blonde down the hall over for a game of strip Scrabble.

Lately, however, I’ve been frothing at the mouth in frustration and anger, and I feel as if at any minute I’ll sprout a green wig, torn pants and absolutely Hulk-out. The source of this hostility:

Morons who talk in movie theaters.

It’s my curse. No matter when I sit in the theatre, it is inevitably next to the rude, crude, impardonnable types who blatantly babble during the film.

I sit there and seethe, transferring my anxiety by man-handling my Milk Duds.

As a frequent patron of the cinema, especially during dollar nights, I have found our town to be in excess of quote of loudly express their every non-thought.

We’ll all had to deal with these troglodytes. You’ll be watching a steamy love scene and the guy behind you will complaining about the lack of butter-like-material on his popcorn.

You’ll be absorbed in a riveting moment from a psychological thriller and the woman in front of you will be criticizing the actresses’ hair styles.

I’m nostalgic for the days when people went to the movies to neck. At least they did it quietly. These days, these seem to go to form networking events.

I suppose television is at fault for this tendency toward unrestrained verbalizing. Families are used to sitting around the living room, having open conversation during even the most intense moments of whatever CSI is playing these days.

Specialists in primitive human behavior have identified three sub-genres of movie theatre malevolents:

  • The “Oh, Wow” type. Has just consumed a box of Good ‘n’ Plenty, some Nibs and two Quaaludes. Gasps at every bright color or blast of stereo; reads the credits out loud. 
  • The pseudo-intellectual. Pretends to subscribe to Film Comment. Feels obligated to critique the cinematography. Loves to loudly identify where he’s seen that character actor before. Hums along with the film score. 
  • The slug. Yells “go for it” during the sex scenes. Complains bitterly about the previews (which are, after all, the best part of movie-going). Needs to have the plot explained to him by the guy named to him. (“No, the Shire is Frodo’s home.”) 
  • A catch-all category for couples who try to figure out the murderer, people who laugh at violence, and anyone else who must offer their opinion above a whisper.

So what’s to be done about this unmannered subset of humanity? I’ve suggested to local police that talking in movie theaters be made a misdemeanor, but I’m told this would take untold overtime pay.

Vigilante action is, then, our only recourse. We must gag the verbose Mom and her inquisitive children. We must silence the spaced-out pontificators. We must squelch the Sprite-slurping hecklers.

We’ve paid good money to see the film without distraction and no jury would convict us for defending our right to discussion-free screenings.

I’m not a violent person, really. But this is war.

Walt Jaschek once went to a lot of movies.

What Walt Jaschek Believes. (And Doesn’t Believe.)

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Part One: What I Believe. 

Originally published as the editorial in Slightly Bent Comics #1.

I BELIEVE in music, I BELIEVE in love. But not necessarily in that order.

I BELIEVE for every drop of rain that falls, one is leaking into my basement.

I BELIEVE before the end of time, the title of every pop song ever released will also be used as the title of a movie.

I BELIEVE civilization reached a peak with the invention of the prescription swimming goggles.

I BELIEVE on of the best titles ever for a comic book is “Mysterious Suspense” (Charlton, 1968), because mysterious suspense is truly the best kind of suspense.

I BELIEVE in the universal, healing power of sarcasm.

I BELIEVE George Reeves (TV’s Superman of the 1950s) was a great actor. So you can synchronize your aesthetic tastes to mine right now, as long as you know mine are correct.

I BELIEVE it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can repeat.

I BELIEVE it’s not what you can do, it’s what you can repeat.

I BELIEVE it would be inappropriate to foist my vegetarian beliefs on others, so if you want to slaughter sentient mammals just to have a heart-clogging bacon-burger, I will give you no grief.

I BELIEVE the glass is half empty and half full. We call this reality.

But I BELIEVE the half-full part is a lot more fun.

I BELIEVE being alive is a caper. We’ve stolen existences from the vaults of the Carbon-Based-Life-Form Bank & Trust and zipped off in the getaway car of biology. I’m giddy about it.

But then, I BELIEVE exuberance should be the default emotion for human beings. We should all snap back to it when not otherwise engaged, like when, you know: working.

I BELIEVE those who can find exuberance in their work are lucky dogs.

Or other lucky domestic pets of your choosing.

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Part 2: What I Don’t Believe

Originally published as the editorial in Slightly Bent Comics #2.

I DON’T BELIEVE I caught your name. I’m Walt.

I DON’T BELIEVE everything I read, which is odd, because I do believe everything I smell.

I DON’T BELIEVE in ghosts, except for Capser, ’cause he’s friendly. In fact, I say this with authority: he’s the friendliest ghost in town.

I DON’T BELIEVE my personal life is anybody’s business but my own, except for maybe a few close friends, family and oh yeah, “The E True Hollywood Story.”

I DON’T BELIEVE in fairy tales. I mean: a pig? Who can make a “house” of straw? A “house” that gets, like, blown down? By a wolf? Yeah, right. Who do they take us for?

I DON’T BELIEVE how good you look! Are those new glasses? And you’ve lost weight! HOW? You must tell me! Treadmill?

I DON’T BELIEVE you should write checks in grocery store lines, unless you don’t have cash or credit cards, and if you don’t have cash or credit cards, please, don’t go grocery shopping.

I DON’T BELIEVE there’s anything more beautiful than a sunset, except for a sunset in the background of a Victoria’s Secrets catalog photo.

I DON’T BELIEVE in government conspiracies. Conspiracies require competence and coordination.

I DON’T BELIEVE you ignore that whole “Wag the Dog” thing, though.

I DON’T BELIEVE in not believing.

I DON’T BELIEVE in spreading bad Karma, hatred, intolerance, paranoia, gossip or flu germs.

I DON’T BELIEVE you paid attention all this time.

But I’m glad you did.

Walt Jaschek means that.