I consider myself to be patient and compassionate, especially with the elderly. When I see a crusty Buick cruising at 50 mph on the highway, I don’t curse out the 80-year-old driver; I just pass them and go on my way, hoping that a semi truck doesn’t rear end them. When I’m grocery shopping and my cart gets stalled by a slow walking senior couple debating which off-brand cereal to buy, I smile and wait. I mean, this decision is difficult for everyone regardless of age — how could I be cruel enough to judge them for this?
However, when an elderly couple disrupts my movie going experience by chit-chatting about the most mundane, ridiculous things, all patience and compassion is lost.
There is no excuse for talking during a movie. If you’re guilty of doing this, stop ruining 90 minutes of other people’s lives and reevaluate your own.
Last May, my older brother Cam came home from New York to celebrate Memorial Day with the family. The weekend was filled with Stewart-family rituals, like (vegetarian-friendly) backyard barbecues and late night conversations with him pretending like we know what’s best for our parents — this year’s theme was why they need to get a new dog.
That Saturday, we followed another Stewart holiday weekend tradition and went to see a movie. Our happy Midwestern family story hit its first and only roadblock here.
We were decided on “The Lobster.” We were seated and comfortable in the theater, and the previews starting. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with talking during the previews. If you really care about a movie trailer, just search it on YouTube. So, when I heard loud mumbling behind me, at this point, all was well.
Once the movie started, the incessant mumbling didn’t end. I turned back, giving a piercing stare, to realize that the perpetrators were a happy elderly couple. This was heartbreaking and a real moral challenge. How could I ever chew these people out?
Any feelings of empathy and tolerance were thrown out the window after about three seconds. I was hoping they would catch on to my frequent aggressive stares followed by overly dramatic gestures of disappointment. They never even locked eyes with me. I’m guessing the problem was they couldn’t see much of anything in the darkness of the theater and were likely just trying to guide one another through the movie. For this, I felt kind of mean, but I stayed strong on my whole “no excuses” stand.
My brother and I turned to one another and loudly whispered things along the lines of “Wow, that is so (expletive) annoying.” This didn’t quite catch on.
After every time I shushed them or countered their rudeness with more rudeness, I felt this weird adrenaline rush while thinking, “Yeah, serves them right. I feel great.” It felt no different than the tingly feeling after a rollercoaster ride. This was probably not a great sign; maybe I should’ve eased up a bit. Nonetheless, I was sticking up for my seating section, the Robin Hood of the movie theater.
At this point, I probably sound like a spoiled college student with no empathy and a complete lack of awareness that people get old. I hate to throw my brother, the most compassionate and loving person I know, into the mix. Maybe that can be further proof that absolutely no one likes when people talk in a movie theater. If Cam gets upset, everyone gets upset.
In our divided cultural climate, we should all come together and agree that people who talk during a movie suck, like people who leave their disgusting mess behind at the dining hall table which forces you to do some miraculous balancing act carrying their plates on top of yours to end up with all of them shattered on the ground. We all hate these things. During tumultuous periods of partisanship and division, our petty grievances remind us that we’re not so different.
If you are someone who talks at the movie theater, it’s okay. You deserve a second chance. On behalf of everyone who is equally annoyed by this, you are forgiven. It is not like the perpetrators are consciously trying to ruin everyone else’s experience; it is incognizant selfishness.