A Moviegoer's Mantra

The way I see it, there are three kinds of people out there. People who LOVE movies, people who don’t go to the movies, and people who shouldn’t go to the movies. In the last several years, I have been going to the movies more and more often than ever before, as I live in a city that has has been nationally ranked as one of the best for movie lovers, especially when it comes to independent and retro screenings. However the modern theatrical landscape has been tainted by the third grouping I’d mentioned above, people who shouldn’t be going to the movies to begin with.

The theater is not a place for conversation. FUCKING PERIOD.

If you wanna talk, stay home, wait for the movies you want to talk over (and miss important plot elements, subtleties, and atmosphere) with your friends. Just because you want to see a movie in the theater doesn’t mean that other people should have to endure your thoughts, commentaries, or arguments. This really tends to spoil the film for the first grouping of people.

Cinema when applied properly has a magical element of escapism, you can forget for a little bit who you are, what your problems are, where you are, and how you got there. You are in the dark momentarily letting go, and briefly joining in on someone else’s journey. This is where the magic happens, and people are starting to take it from us, the cinema lovers of the world.

We had to “shush” a couple (who had two very young kids) several times before they up and walked out of Fast 6.

I had to ask a couple to stop arguing about popcorn at The Judge, which didn’t ruin an already bad film for me, it just raised my blood pressure, and I felt constant anxiety that I would have to ask again, should they continue their nonsense.

Three or four times-and two different people in my group-had to ask a couple of chattering old birds to shut their beaks during John Wick.

A family openly encouraged their child (who was too young to even be there in my opinion) to ask questions during an OMSI screening of Captain America: Winter Soldier.

I turned around and asked someone to stop talking twice during the last Hobbit movie.

Just last night, my little brother had to ask a couple to zip their yappers during Mad Max: Fury Road. They actually left, shortly after, and ya know what, good for them, good for us.

There are so many more times this has happened, that I just can’t recall right now. But these are the people who should not be going to the movies. These are the people who need to be reminded that to some of us, the theater is no different from their church, their therapist, their special place. We need to be ready to take it back, we have to speak up, and remind people that this is simply not ok. This can no longer go unchecked.

Shortly after my brother spoke to those people last night, I felt that all too familiar surge of adrenaline, and I felt the unwarranted frustration of having a movie potentially spoiled by those around us. In that moment you never know exactly what to say, especially because more often than not, the people who love movies, tend to lean ever so slightly to the introverted side of the spectrum, and are simply put not into the idea of confrontation. Well as I felt that familiar twinge, I thought about what I should say, should they speak up again, which is often a fear running through your mind for the rest of the movie. I didn’t want to be rude, but should I need to say something I wanted my point to be clear and concise, so I took what I know of mantra based meditation, and began repeating over and over again in my head the following phrase:

“Please refrain from comments until the end of the show”

The effects of doing this were three fold. First, it calmed me down significantly, as mantra based meditation* should do. Second, it allowed me to focus on the film more clearly, as I had a distraction program running in the background of my mind, and I noticed many rich details that had slipped through on my first screening of the film. Third, and most importantly, it took the “what should I say to these people” element right off the table, as should someone have spoken up again, all I would have had to do was externalize the internal mantra and ask the person to “please refrain from comments until the end of the show.”

Thanks for reading, now please shut the fuck up and enjoy the movies!

*It is important to me that I tell the world about this today (May 22nd), as I am going to begin learning Transcendental Meditation tomorrow (May 23rd), as that is both a widely known and highly beneficial form of mantra based meditation, but there is also an element of secrecy and ceremony to the personal mantra aspect. I want this helpful trick to be available to anyone who has been bothered by the rudest of moviegoers, so they can remain calm, and have something to fight back with, but also and more importantly as I came up with this knowing what I know using basic research on mantra meditation, this is not a violation of the agreement I will be entering into tomorrow when I give the TM movement a check for a thousand dollars, and receive my actual mantra during the proper ceremony.

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