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.
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.