Texting In Theaters: No Defense for a Bad Idea
In a recent interview with Variety magazine, Adam Aron, the recently appointed CEO of AMC Theatres, said he'd consider allowing texting at AMC Theatres.
Variety: Would appealing to millennials involve allowing texting or cellphone use?
Aron: Yes. When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear please cut off your left arm above the elbow. You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.
Ignoring that he thinks so little of the younger generation that he thinks their life is defined by, determined by, and dictated by their use of their phone, to a completely insulting degree, ignoring all of that, he does immediately say "There’s a reason there are ads up there saying turn off your phone, because today’s moviegoer doesn’t want somebody sitting next to them texting or having their phone on."
That. Exactly that. No one wants this. You're proposing a solution no one wants, to a problem that doesn't really exist. The problem of getting people into the theater isn't in phone use. They don't see the poster saying "NO PHONE USE ALLOWED" and then turn around ne'er to return. That's not happening. Especially when four different films in the past 12 months have set box office records. People aren't not going to the theaters. So what problem is this solving?
Fortunately, AMC Theatres listened to the massive outcry against such a policy that accumulated over the past few days and posted this to their Facebook:
In big all caps letters, they say they've heard our opinions on their awful idea, and will not allow texting in their auditoriums.
But not quite everyone thought it was a bad idea, because this op-ed piece appeared to defend the practice of texting and phone use in theatres. But there is no defense of texting in movie theatres. Two quotes to point out:
There's plenty of reasons to get on your phone, though. Recognize an actress and can't remember where you know her from? IMDb is a click away. See something that reminds you of a friend or loved one? You can reach out to them immediately. Plus, think of the live-tweeting opportunities.
No... you wait till the end of the movie. The end. Live tweeting can't wait till the end obviously, but if you're live-tweeting you're not really watching the movie anymore. Even in The 5th Wave, a movie so bad I actually didn't mind the wailing toddler halfway through, I wasn't going to whip out my phone and live-tweet. Checking your phone, tweeting, texting, what have you, that distracts you. We've all seen the no texting & driving PSAs. Now that you've sent that hilariously snarky tweet about the movie, you're turning to your friend asking what just happened because you missed the plot point while you were busy sending that hilariously snarky tweet.
Using one's phone in theaters will always bother cinematic purists. They'll harrumph that a moviegoer is ruining their own experience.
That's the laziest argument ever. Trying to paint the other side as esoteric elitists for wanting to enjoy the movie, not see phone screens light up during an intense moment which completely rips you out of the experience.
If you want the "Second Screen Experience"? Wait for the DVD. If you want to be able to check IMDb mid movie to find out where you know Brie Larson from? Wait for the DVD. (Spoiler alert: Probably 21 Jump Street, or her one-hit wonder pop career). If you want to live tweet? Wait for the DVD. Or Blu-Ray, or Netflix or Amazon or whatever medium you watch your movies on. Just not the movie theater. If that makes me a harrumphing cinematic purist, then that's my new job title. I am The Harrumphing Cinematic Purist at Your Local Cinema.