Rude and Offensive

“Are you going to turn that off or should I move?”

My son and I went to see Super8 yesterday – great movie, all four thumbs way up, by the way. I love going with the family to see good films. I enjoy talking about them after, about how good stories and great characters are important, about what makes something meaningful or funny or suspenseful. Some of my best memories growing up were at the movies, and I want that for our kids as well.

I love to see the trailers, too. I always worry that the trailers might be better than the movie itself, so I hate missing the previews pre-feature. And over the last couple of years I’ve taken to tweeting the trailers to make a note of what we saw, what flicks we might look forward to “coming soon”.

That’s the context of the question above: “Are you going to turn that off or should I move?” – asked by the lady behind us as my iphone lay in my lap, the last trailer listed, the opening credits beginning to roll.

It’s given me something to think about. Was I being rude by tweeting the upcoming films? No, I don’t think so – but that’s me justifying my actions as much as anything, I suppose. I’ve never had anyone mention it, so I don’t think there’s anything particular about this one “crossing the line”.

On the other hand, was she being rude? Believe me, I wanted to be offended. But honestly, I don’t think so. Her tone was a bit curt, but I’ve tried hard to not read emotion and offense into things like that in conversation or in text. If my phone being open and my presumed live tweet/texting was going to happen the whole movie, that would have been distracting. She asked with her own reasons, and I don’t think that was necessarily rude in and of itself.

“No, I’m turning it off now.” That was my response, and it was the truth: tweet sent, movie starting, so phone off and get into the story. I decided to not be offended – “perhaps you should move just in case” was a response that came to mind. But it wasn’t worth it, it was out of character for me, and, as I’ve pondered it in the background since, it would’ve been rude.


10 thoughts on “Rude and Offensive

  1. My wife and I went to see Super 8 yesterday and during the previews there were several adults behind us that were in a full blown conversation and were making no attempts to be quiet or to themselves. Someone behind me, maybe one of their party, said shhhhhh so they would stifle themselves as the move was about to start. Luckily for us they were quiet for the movie.

    As for your tweeting before the movie actually started, I see nothing wrong with it. If you are trying to be discreet and have the device in your lap so that you are not blinding someone or distracting their movie going experience, I do not see any problem with it. I actually had someone complain about me using my cell phone years ago. I had an older blackberry and I was on call. I was not talking on the phone but responding to an e-mail. What is funny is that I had gone to complain about someone talking on their cell phone in the movie and not giving a flip about the people around them. Once I explained that to the lad he moved on to the other offenders and I turned my device down.

  2. Chuck Bryan says:

    Hey Rick – Funny post. Never thought of this from the POV of the Tweeter.

    Texting (and variants) bother me at theaters because it draws my eyes to the device. Very bothersome. However…it was the trailers.

    I think you handled it fine and it was a graceful response.


  3. James Kirk says:

    I guess there’s movie etiquette and there’s movie theater etiquette. That you were tweeting during the trailers makes this one complicated. For me, the trailers are part of the filmgoing experience. Personally I am annoyed by any distraction once the lights go down and the ads are done. I find the glow of a mobile phone as distracting and annoying as a cell phone conversation. Having seen several hundred films at the Seattle Film Festival I have adapted a set of behaviors which include removing my fedora (if applicable – SIFF opens during the rainy season), ending conversation and putting away the phone in the OFF position once the lights are down. In a conversation once with a film critic who used a light pen to take notes, he told me that he always sat in the back as to not detract from anyone’s experience.

    TALKING DURING A FILM. As an aside, I once had a great conversation with a stranger before the screening of a film about a couple of really lousy indies we had both seen during the festival. We stopped talking once the movie started. There was a point in the movie that I very nearly leaned over and made a snide comment about the film we were watching. It was terrible. But I refrained, as I did not want to offend anyone around me with either my talkig during the movie nor did I want to distract my companion who seemed engrossed in the movie. I am glad I held my tongue, for when the lights came up and the director of the film was introduced the stranger next to me stood and took a bow.

  4. Rodney Olsen says:

    I don’t have too much of an issue with what happens during the trailers but I’ve found more and more that people treat the cinema like their loungeroom when the movie is playing. I’ve had a guy taking calls next to me during a movie through to people behind me laughing at their own private joke during serious moments of a movie.

    One of the saddest things I remember was a guy at a movie with his young daughter. It was a kids’ movie so he probably wasn’t really into it, but that didn’t excuse him being on the phone for much of the movie. He was being rather quiet but the message it must have been sending the daughter was, “I can’t give you my undivided attention and ‘be with you’ for even the time it takes to see a 90 minute movie.”

    • Rick says:

      When the movie’s going, we’ll hush the kids and get them to refocus on what’s going on. And I’m with you – using the time to spend with your kids, instead of as another moment to do something apart from them, is a good idea.

  5. George says:

    I agree with James. The movie-going experience includes the trailers. I’ve abandoned a trip to the theater before because we were going to miss the trailers and opening credits. As much as a movie ticket costs these days, I should be able to enjoy even the parts other people don’t care about. You obviously feel the same way about enjoying the trailers, since you tweet them (which I always enjoy reading). However, phone screens are bright and could be distracting. Maybe you could dim the screen when you’re in the theater. Also, maybe you should lay down on the floor when tweeting. It might be a little sticky, but at least you won’t distract anyone with your phone light.

    • Rick says:

      Tweeting from the floor might not work – already bad enough getting the soles of my shoes crunchy/sticky, not sure I want the same for my posterior.

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