The Movie Theater as a Living Room

I don’t understand people anymore. Mostly I don’t understand the entire hands-off parenting that seems to be the norm amongst far too many people. The attitude seems to be that the kids should just be allowed to do whatever they want and if they screw up then it’s someone else’s responsibility to punish the kids and take care of them. I had a brilliant example of this just over the weekend when I went to the movies.

I was going to see “X-Men III: The Last Stand.” I had been looking forward to seeing this movie for a long time. I knew it would be crowded but I didn’t care. When I am by myself and don’t have to worry about a companions enjoyment of the movie, I generally sit down in the lower sections of those stadium-seating theaters. I sit towards the back of those lower rows and right on the aisle. These days I often have to get up and run to the restroom and I don’t want to have to crawl over people in the middle of the movie. I want to get out and then get back to my seat as quietly and un-obtrusively as possible. See, I was brought up to be considerate of other people around me and not to treat the world as if it should bend to my will.

Well, three youths ended up sitting right next to me. I would guess they were about 13 or 14 years old. I knew, right away, that these kids were going to be trouble. They immediately started talking loudly to each other as if they were in their own homes or even seated outside on the front porch. I began to pray that maybe once the lights would go down they would get that hushed tone and wide-eyed at the movie screen that sometimes happens with loud people who feel the need to chat loudly during all of those annoying movie-screen commercials.

Sadly, this did not happen. The previews started. I love watching movie trailers. In this day and age, the movie trailers are often so much better than the resultant movies that I would gladly watch movie trailers than some films. After watching previews for movies like “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and hearing about how cool “Bow-wow” was and how much the three youths wanted to see that film because “Bow-wow” was in it, the trailer ended and another came on. It was obvious to anyone who has not been living on a deserted island for the past ten years that this was the trailer for the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. They immediately began to talk in a tone just slightly louder than the sound of a 757 jet engine revving up to full-speed.

YOUTH 1: OH, THIS MUST BE THE PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUTH 2: YEAH THIS IS THE THIRD ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUTH 1: NO, IT’S NOT!!!!!!!!!!!! THIS IS THE SECOND ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUTH 2: ARE YOU SURE?!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NAW, MAN, THIS IS THE THIRD ONE, THEY ALREADY HAD THE SECOND ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

YOUTH 3: NAW, THIS IS THE SECOND ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This kind of mentally handicapped, ignorant Abbott and Costello routine went on through the entire preview. It happened again during all of the other previews. I began to hold my finger in my right ear in an attempt to drown out the sound. I hoped, prayed, nearly got on my knees and offered hosannahs to the Lord that they would SHUT THE HELL UP during the movie. Sadly, no such luck. No, instead the movie was an invitation to talk louder as if they were alone in the theater and with no consideration for anyone around.

Had I mutant powers these three would have been reduced to dust with just my mind-powers about three seconds after they sat down. Did no one teach these kids anything resembling manners? I guess their behavior pretty much shows that they did not. I am guessing their parents probably routinely dropped them off at the movies so that the theater would act as a kind of baby-sitter. Probably so the parents could go off and do other things. So, to these kids, this actually was their living room.

Being afraid of the youth of today I did not want to say anything. I figured gunshots would ring out or I would have been knifed in the parking lot. Kids today have no more concern for human life than they do manners and each child is evidently issued a fire-arm at birth these days. Considering it was difficult for me to find Pop-Rocks as a child it is amazing how easily kids today can come up with guns and drugs.

What did I do? I moved. I got up and moved to the other side of the theater. Unfortunately I had so sit on the far right side of the second row. If you know anything about these large stadium-seating theaters you know the screen has a curve to it. The screens are very large and curved so that if you sit in the middle and a few rows back everything looks flat. To me, on the far side, of the second row, everyone on the left-side of the screen looked as if they had been in a horrible industrial accident. Everyone looked like their left eye had somehow migrated above their right eye. Good thing this was a movie about mutants.

You see this kind of parenting all the time these days, especially at the stores like Target and Wal-Mart. Over there is a young child, perhaps two, who appears to have removed part of the shelving as it beating it against the rack of CDs or something. The parent is engaged in deep conversation with a friend about fifty yards away, studying a cluster of flip-flops like it was the Magna Carta. Upon the entire CD rack collapsing, killing several elderly women, and then setting the toy area on fire, the mother, still mostly distracted, looks up in a bored manner and shouts the child’s name. Then, even as the child detonates a small bomb near a bunch of fish tanks, goes back to the flip flops as if she feels she has now done her duty by shouting the name. She does not go get the child. She does not grab the child and yell. She can barely be distracted from her shopping long enough to acknowledge she has children.

As the great philosopher Keanu Reeves once said, “You have to have a license to drive a car, hell, you even need a license to fish. But they will let any Tom, Dick and A**hole be a father.” I would change the word “father” to “parent” but I think the sentiment is apt.

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