A hot dog is singing! You need quiet while a hot dog is singing? (or, Moviegoing Etiquette Pt. 1)

I thoroughly enjoy a good moviegoing experience. Especially in the summer, on opening weekend of a major blockbuster movie. I love getting my popcorn with butter and Coke (I’ve never found a theatre that sells Dr. Pepper), settling into my seat and watching the previews. I love the electricity that ripples through the crowd as the intro of a long-anticipated movie begins. It may or may not be good cinema, but no one in the theatre cares. They are all there to be entertained. But with this crowd comes the risk of something or someone ruining the experience. You know what I’m talking about. That’s why I’ve decided that I’m going to do a multi-part series on moviegoing etiquette, and lay out what are Pope’s Rules to Watching a Movie in Public.

Yesterday I went and saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (movie review possibly forthcoming). It was an enjoyable experience, in the “big” theatre at my local movieplex with a packed house. The crowd’s excitement was palpable. There were cheers when the Lucasfilm logo flashed across the screen. And it was very nearly ruined by the guy behind me. This brings me to:

Rule 1. Level and Nature of Discussion and Comment During a Film
(1) Comments and discussion during the movie should be kept to a minimum from the beginning of a film until the credits begin to roll.
  (a) The beginning of the movie is defined as either the first image that appears on the screen or the first text that is related to the plot of the film.

  (b) Opening credits, such as the actors, director, or producers, are not considered plot points of the film.
(2) If comment is deemed necessary, the comment should be made as quietly as possible as to not disrupt the filmwatching experience of those around the person making the comment.
  (a) If the film is at a point where the volume necessitates the raising of one’s voice to comment, the commenter should refrain until the volume is such that the comment may be made.
  (b) Should the comment be absolutely necessary, it must be made as quickly as possible in the moment and with as few words as possible.
(3) Under no circumstances should comments be directed at persons not seated immediately next to the commenter. No comments should be directed towards people in the rows in front of or behind the commenter, unless the comment is made to “shush” another commenter.

Notes to Rule 1. When watching the movie, shut your trap! There’s no need to make a running commentary on the movie. You are not Joel Robinson, Tom Servo, or Crow T. Robot. Your comments are not humorous. You are only destroying the filmwatching experience of those around you. For the love of Pete, keep it down.

Yep, that’s what happened yesterday. The guy behind me had to make loud comments throughout the entire movie. Why he did it is a question for the ages. I first knew he was going to be trouble when, right after the robot says the name “WALL-E” in the preview for the new Pixar movie, he repeated it in a bad impersonation. It was horrible.
It continued throughout the entire movie, and I mean nonstop. One of the characters would make some declaration followed by a split-second of silence, and the guy behind me would interject a, “Yep.” As if it added something to our experience. Heck, it didn’t even benefit him! He would make obvious plot observations, too. At the climax of the film, as they perform the action that will put them in mortal peril, he states, “Well, they’re in for it now.” Oh really, you think?!

It really made me wish that the Eigth Amendment to the Constitution was actually Dave Barry’s version:

The Eight Amendment states that if you are seated directly in front of a person who has to comment on every single scene of a movie—and we are talking here about perceptive comments, such as when a movie character is getting into his car and the person behinds you says, “He’s getting into his car now”—then you have the right to go “SSSHHHHH!” two times in a warning manner, after which you have the right to kill this person with a stick. (Barry, Dave. Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States. 47)

If you like to discuss the movie as you are watching it, please, PLEASE do it quietly, lest you ruin the experience for those nice folks around you. It will make everyone happier.

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2 Responses to “A hot dog is singing! You need quiet while a hot dog is singing? (or, Moviegoing Etiquette Pt. 1)”


  1. 1 Justin T. May 26, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    At instances like these, the only appropriate behavior is to kindly ask the person to refrain from talking one time. If they fail to do this, you are free (and some would argue obligated) to clap your hands over their eardrums harshly, rupturing them and ensuring a lifetime of silence for that person. Some call it vigilante justice, I call it karma.


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