by Greg Kuchmek

In the past few years, there's been an ugly new trend toward talking openly in theaters during the feature presentation. Going to the movies becomes a trying ordeal when people are discussing the film while it's happening, as if they were in the privacy of their homes watching television. I go to films to escape from the everyday; I want to be immersed in the Super-Giant-Big-Budget Extravaganza—I don't want listen to discussions on who some star is sleeping with and what she's wearing. Is television creating this new generation of theater-going thugs bent on disrupting our distraction from real life? Are they taking away our opportunity to think creatively (and privately) for the two hours it takes to watch a film?

It's not such a bad thing when you see a film for the communal experience—THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is the first to come to mind. The whole point of seeing it was to shout responses at the screen and throw rice and water at the cast of wacky freaks play-acting in the theater while the film played on in the backgound. But theatrical interactivity never grew out of that one film; instead it only became a parody of itself and slowly died out.

While watching television at home, people follow whatever rules govern their private lives. They can talk to the TV or their family, chew food loudly, and generally make as much noise as they please—even shout on cue while watching a video of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. It seems that people have become so used to watching television that when they actually decide to get off their bttts and go out to the theater, they (we?) have forgotten the rules of etiquette that govern public life. But these rules are worthwhile—they show mutual respect in communal experiences, and generally make things go smoother.

If people can't behave well on their own, I want formality back in theaters! We need uniformed ushers with flashlights patrolling the aisles! We need strict television and film-watching courses taught in our schools! Children should be taught the difference between the film and television and how to respect them as separate art forms! We must stamp out this problem before it turns into an unfortunate example of our devolved culture. </end>

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