Friday, March 30, 2012

Fix It Friday: the non-fix-it Hunger Games edition

As friends of the blog may know, Fix-It Fridays are when I rant about how excruciating movie-going experiences could be transformed into bliss with a few minor tweaks to plot, story arc, characterization, etc. Today is not that kind of Friday. Before I start talking about my Hunger Games movie experience, I would like to make two things very clear:

1) There will be no spoilers. None. Read with impunity, spoiler-wary friends.

2) I love the books. I am in no way proposing to fix anything about them or the movie.

This is about movie theater etiquette - a fix perhaps LONG overdue. This is about the things outside of the movie itself that can drastically alter our movie-going experiences.

See, last Friday I went to Hunger Games on opening day. We cleared our schedules to go in the afternoon before the noisy teen population got off school, bought our tickets in advance, and got there early to wait in line to snag good seats. Everything went exactly as planned - except for those things you can't plan. Like the woman sitting directly behind me, who talked loudly through the entire film and belted out embarrassed cackling laughter during pretty much every somber dramatic moment.

I would like to propose an etiquette rule. If you are going to talk to the screen like it will talk back and erupt into awkward guffaws whenever someone has an emotionally significant moment of silence, maybe you shouldn't go on opening day when it is IMPOSSIBLE for other movie-goers to move to get away from you, after their glares and quiet requests for you to stop talking are ignored.

And, for the record, the actors? They can't hear you. So your full-voice exclamations of "Girl, whatchu doing that for?" and "I told you so!" are only serving to piss off everyone around you. You know, those people who actually want to hear the dialogue you're drowning out.

I honestly don't understand why this woman came on opening day. She had zero familiarity with the books - as evidenced by the man with her who felt the need to explain (loudly) plot points that she'd missed. Not that you have to read books to be excited about movies and not that people shouldn't be encouraged to go and enjoy films whenever the hell they want, but why WHY did she have to completely screw with my enjoyment of the film? I honestly don't know if the movie has dramatic impact because when one woman is cackling in your ear through every quiet moment, it's hard to appreciate the drama.

She seemed to think death was funny in exactly the same way the staff of the Today Show think sex is funny every time they do a story on it. With such excruciating awkwardness that it's uncomfortable to watch their sex-o-phobia on display.

I think my own horrendous movie experience would piss me off less if I felt there was a snowball's chance in hell that she wouldn't do it again, but she just didn't care. She enjoyed herself, being that inconsiderate, and that makes me nuts.

So my fix? I'll be going again. Next week. Mid-week matinee. Sitting in the back so no one can be right behind me, squealing in my ear.

But the societal fix, that's trickier. We've all been to movies where someone else has ruined it for us. And I'm afraid it's bound to happen again. Is that just the cost of rubbing along with other movie-goers? Or do we have a reasonable expectation to be able to hear the dialogue when we shell out our $10+ bucks (plus popcorn)? Is texting (which will get you kicked out of that particular theater) really more disruptive than the woman with no volume button and no verbal filter? Is it common sense that we respect our fellow movie-goers enough to let them enjoy the film too? Or am I wrong to be annoyed because her enjoyment might have been lessened if she hadn't been talking back to the screen?

What's your take?

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