Haneen Dajani | May 2, 2013
I can’t remember the last time I went to the cinema without someone being shushed or asked to leave. That’s because I’m usually the one making the noise.
Complaints range from the polite – people asking whether I can “please keep it down?” – to the downright rude – like the woman who threw her purse at me during a screening of Alexander the Great. (Since you ask, good film, rubbish purse).
So I was interested to see that the YouTube video Two Locals Fighting in the Cinema, shot in Dubai, had gone viral. In it, an actor answers his mobile, very loudly, angering those around him. He continues to talk, slowly getting louder, and ignores calls for him to end the conversation or leave the movie theatre.
Now, I expect this video has struck a chord with many of you. Over the years I’ve lived here I’ve noticed that noise from cinema audiences is a pet peeve for many people, particularly expatriates.
So here’s my advice: Stop being so uptight.
The cinema is not a library.
The whole point of a public cinema is to have fun with your friends while watching the movie of your choice. If you want everyone around you to keep silent, then watch at home, alone.
Speaking as someone who enjoys my right to free speech – and has no qualms about exercising it in public places (hint: that includes a PUBLIC cinema) – squirming and whingeing and complaining every time someone rustles a sweet paper, or titters at a joke, or, God Forbid! answers their phone, will not make them stop. It will only make them laugh at you and turn up the volume.
I remember watching the recent Hollywood film Snow White and the Huntsmen when a grown man called the security guards to complain about a baby. Because it was crying.
“Why are they bringing a baby to a sex movie!” he shouted in the middle of the theatre, making at least as much noise as the baby.
Now, bear in mind this is an adaption of a children’s fairy tale (do I need to italicize “children’s” here?), and that it stars a girl who first became famous in the Twighlight teenage-vampire saga, and I think you’ll agree that this man had it coming when my friends and I laughed in his face as hard as we could.
What was Rambo doing in the audience in the first place? Shouldn’t he be elsewhere, filming Rocky 12 or whatever?
It’s exactly this kind of uptight behaviour that needs policing in our cinemas, rather than people having a little innocent fun.
If such people just relaxed, then they might make some friends.
I went to watch Beowulf in 3D recently with a like-minded companion. The movie was so funny to us, we couldn’t help but comment and laugh. Afterwards, the two people sat behind us insisted on walking us to our cars and giving us their numbers so that next time we could all go to the cinema together.
“Without you the movie would have been so very boring,” they told us.
Now, I’m under no illusion that everyone’s going to agree with me on this one. In fact, I know there will scores of you, reading this and slowly turning purple at what you see as my arrogance.
But that’s fine. Don’t feel you need to keep silent about it, let it out and speak up. After all, this isn’t a library.
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