Dec 10, 2005

just got out of the wardrobe...

Don't worry... no spoilers in this post.

But I will say this about the Narnia movie - I liked it very much. I don't understand why no one promoted it... you'd think the Christian bookstores would have had some products or someone would have pushed it or something.

Anyway, here's the real point of this post.

What is with people talking in movie theaters?

Granted, I was highly interested in this film and was looking to get something out of it. While I don't get out to see as many films these days as I'd like to (because you need a small loan from a bank for tickets and snacks), I do try to enjoy it when I can.

The theater was full - it was opening night and I live in West Michigan, home of the Christian Reformed Church. So do the math...

To my left and in front of us were some college kids. They talked during the pre-movie slides... no big deal.

Behind us were some more college kids. They talked before the movie and during the previews, including statements like...

    "Oh, dude... I am SO seeing that movie!"
    "That guy makes me laugh... I like Steve Martin and that other guy... what's his name... Gene... Gener... you know, he was in that one movie... it's Gene something... like Gene Hackman but not him... I'm pretty sure it has Gene in it... why can't I think of this guy's name?"
(It's Eugene Levy. Do I say this out loud? No, that would be bad movie manners. And I won't become like one of them.)

Then the movie started and they were still talking. I don't know about what, because I was trying to listen to the movie. So all I heard was a combination of giggles, questions, comments about the English accents, how "cute" that "little Lucy" girl is every time she smiles, and so on.

Oh yeah... and then about 15 minutes into the film during a tense moment I heard, "EUGENE LEVY! That's that guy's name! Where did I get 'Gene' from?"

As the movie progressed, my wife and I kind of side-glanced each other a few times about the chatter behind us. She even did the head-turn-"I'm-looking-at-you-to-ask-you-to-please-be-quiet-but-now-I-will-turn-my-head-before-we-make-eye-contact-and-this-becomes-awkward"-manuever. That didn't do anything... it just made us waste the action (you can only do so many of these per movie - otherwise you look like you need to visit a chiropractor). As a side note, I think she did two of these, but she said she only did one.

About 2/3 of the way into the movie I started getting REALLY bothered. Again, I won't say anything about the movie plot other than it gets real intense and personal (especially if you're a Christian). As expected, the gang behind us was still chatty.

So I stood up and turned around, leaning over my wife's chair and making perfectly leveled eye-to-eye contact with the girl who had been talking the most. She paused and gave me her attention...

I shared the following statement in a firm-yet-polite tone:
    "Excuse me, but I've listened to you guys talk for most of the movie. I'd like to ask you to stop doing that."
    She looked at me like I had committed a social crime. "Um... okay, sorry."
    "Thanks," I said, sitting down.
You know those moments when you do something like this and are no longer looking at the people... and begin to wonder how they're reacting? Of course they are talking to each other about what just happened without using any words... lots of hand motions and faces to each other about how weird I was for standing up and saying anything.

Meanwhile, my heart was pumping so fast that I could literally watch my foot (which was crossed over my other leg) bounce up and down. "Settle down, tiger..." I thought to my foot, "you're in the right on this one."

Or was I? We all know that it's awkward to hear people speak through a whole movie... so we do the quick head-turn-move or throw a "shhh..." into the air and see if it sticks.

But if honesty is the best policy AND we're supposed to be grace givers, is it better to just let it happen and not say anything OR should we take a stand (perhaps literally) and call them on to the carpet in a polite-yet-firm way?

What's your spin?


Melanie Morales said...

No - in these times - your gang behind you was text-messaging each other on their $300 cell phones about what a geek the old fogy in front of them was and they probably picked apart (in their own, groovy text-slang) everything they could berate you with - at least, from what they could see in the dark!

Haven't seen the movie yet. We've been holding on to movie bucks to go see it when our babysitter gets back to town (my mom and dad are on vacation in Branson right now). We will try to go to a first showing of the day on Monday while most kids are still in school and college kids are still sleeping off the weekend!

corynne said...

kudos to you for standing up and saying something! It is far too often that rudeness is allowed to run rampant, merely because those bothered by it "don't want to be rude." I seldom have the nerve to stand up for myself in situations like that, and am always relieved when someone else steps forward to say what everyone else is thinking.

And yes, honesty is definitely the best policy, and certainly, you should be a grace giver... but in situations like that, who gets to be given the grace: the small group of disrespectful talkers, OR yourself, your wife, and everyone else sitting near you who are trying to watch the movie? If your actions (or lack thereof) are going to do a diservice to one of those two groups inevitably, it seems like a pretty clear choice! nice blog entry.

Small Group Guy said...

What were you fearing? If you did it nicely and politely it should not be a big deal. We are so afraid of talking to strangers (lied my mother told me!!) and that the conversation might go sour we sit and we take it.

I think it is a lot like sharing the gospel. You have to get over that awkward moment where you have that first conversation and try to establish a connection.

Stand in the mall sometime and try to make deliberate eye contact with strangers sometime. It is an interesting experiment, and I will not spoil the results. Maybe that is for a post another day.

Dakotaranger said...

There is a right way to confront and a wrong way. from what you said you told them you did it the proper way. The thing is you probably dropped thirty bucks you have a right to see and hear the movie. If you would have called her stupid or worse than you shouldn't have.

Now if it was a movie like mystery science theater 3000, Prince's Bride, other cult movies where it is expected then you would have been wrong.

Brian said...

My only question is why it took you that long to say anything. 8)

Mark D said...

I agree with Brian about why it took you so long, but I understand. I go through the same kind of inner battle when I find something in my food at a restaurant. It is definitely not God's will for us to be wimpy doormats, but on the other hand we need to be good examples for Christ. For me it boils down to how the comment or suggestion is presented, and I think you hit the nail on the head and found the proper balance. In a movie like this especially, what if there were others around them who could potentially be touched by the movie, but were distracted as well? I think you opened the door for God to work, so kudos, bro. By the way, I saw a sneak preview Thursday night and was very impressed with the movie.

derek bethay said...

What's as equally annoying is the little kid who kicks the back of your seat throughout the movie.

You did the right thing.

Tony Myles said...

We were at a later movie and I think somewhere near the front some parents were sitting there with a few three year olds. They cried most of the movie, to which their mom and dad decided to say "SHHH!" really loud to.

Oh, and as a side note, we sat behind a couple who graduated from IWU last year... their names were Tony and Katie. And she's from Holland (like my wife). That's just freakshow, dude.

Michael said...

I think it really depends on the situation. I think you just have to look into as whats going to happen when I ask them to be quite. Sometimes you just need to let things go. I would just try to get over it and concentrate on the movie, Just realize that people are talking and then just realize that the movie is on. Its a challenge in mindfulness. I agree sometimes its important to do and just ask them if they could keep it down a little bit, but as long as you do it nicely. Anyhow thats my two cents

Thats weird about the couple that sat in front of you. I guess its really an example about it all being done before.

Tony Myles said...

How true...

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

mountaingirl said...

I had a lady sitting next to me answer her cell phone twice during this movie.


Besides that, it was a fantastic movie.

Len said...

shoot them with a paint gun like Denny Krane would! :-)

Jenn said...

Interesting a question for you. Last night in the church service there were some young teens sitting two rows in front of me. I noticed that two of them were not interested in the message and would occassionally whisper to one another. There was nobody sitting in the row between us so my view was good. Then half way through the message, being delivered by a guest speaker all attention is pointed to these young ladies. He boldly tells them to be quiet and then as if that were not bad enough he says "yes, I'm talking to you!"

I was quite surprised by this considering that I was right there and was not being disturbed. I was more disturbed by his reaction. I have not been attending this church that long, but I have never seen these young ladies before. They slipped out the first moment that we went into prayer and worship.

My questions are these...was he in the right calling them out like he did? Have I just been working with students so long (ha) that I am in an odd way twisted into thinking that they were not "that bad"?

I have witnessed "call-outs" in youth events, but never in a "big-church" situation. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

By the did the right thing....I am shocked that they didn't respond to the stern "mother look" that I am sure Katie gave them. :) And is me! :)

Anonymous said...

Jenn, some speakers are way easily distracted. I wouldn't put them in front of a congregation, but as a Roman Catholic, I can't remember when I was given a choice ;-)

Tony, you were right. One tactic I have sometimes used (although, to tell the truth, our home theatre has marked the end of our movie going days; we're willing to wait rather than endure... well, you know) is to turn around, smile winningly and say, "I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to hear the movie. Could you please talk more quietly?" If the first attempt did not reduce the volume sufficiently, I would turn again, smile and say, "Sorry. I still can't hear."

When that fails, well, that's what ushers are for. The last time I went to movies in this burg, there was a PSA along the lines of "please turn off your cell phone and your mouth when the movie begins."


Tony Myles said...

Patricia -

As a former Roman Catholic, I found that quite funny!

Jenn -


I think a lot of church "call outs" I have seen have never gone over well. Whether it's a baby crying and the pastor tells the mom to "please use the room in the back or the nursery" to the squirmy junior high kids passing notes that get a "come on, guys." There's perhaps a greater issue that the ushers aren't doing their role within the service, so I would staff accordingly. Maybe if the pastor struggles with being able to handle this he needs a bouncer type usher up front.

However, if something important needs to be shared and the one who is sharing it is distracted, well... I guess I'd give him a little slack. But only a little.

In a youth ministry setting, though? I'd reach for the paintball gun. :)

Frank Martens said...

Hmm... Usually I don't have this problem. However there have been a couple of times when someone a couple rows down might be acting like a dork (but not continually throughout the movie).

Anyway, I think it was ok, however, how was your tone of voice and body language :)? That's what matters in my opinion (well that and the choice of words you use)


Milton Stanley said...

Ver.. I mean, Tony: You were in the right. Sounds like the only thing you could have done better is told them much sooner, before you became quite so angry about it.

Tony Myles said...

Milton -

You're right... the tension in my spirit was if I should make it a big deal in the hopes that they would quiet down (like the other people around me did)

Frank -

Everything in me was polite-yet-firm. I know I freaked her out by standing up, but somehow leaning over while staying seated and yelling "SHADDUP!" didn't fly in my spirit, either. I'd call it an awkward teachable moment.