Movies, Popcorn and a Bunch of Demons Laughing

Hollywood execs have been trying to figure out why people aren’t going to the movies in the numbers they used to. The answer isn’t all that complicated: Box office receipts are down because people, like myself, are sick of going to the theater. It’s not that prices have doubled in the last five years—I’m willing to pay for bigger screens and more comfortable seating. Nor is it because I have the ability to download the movie for free before it’s even released—call me old-fashioned, but I will always prefer watching films on a 50-foot screen.

I don’t go to the movies any more because, as much as I love me some cinema, I hate that giggling teenager who spends the entire movie text-messaging the other giggling teenagers sitting two feet away. I hate the guy sitting behind me who, apparently, experienced some serious brain trauma, thus making it impossible for him to whisper. You know that guy, right? The one who asks his wife for a napkin at a volume the rest of us reserve for earthquakes. I also hate the guy that receives a call every five minutes, answers it and, each time, gets up, walks to the exit but doesn’t actually leave the theater to finish his conversation. And I hate the girl in front of me because if her cell phone screen were any brighter it would permanently burn my shadow into the back wall of the theater.

In other words, I hate ponying up 10 bucks to sit around a bunch of people who think I drove all the way to the theater to watch them.

Despite what I just said, none of those people I hate are acting improperly. They’re not being rude or inconsiderate. If you acted that way 15 years ago, you’d very likely get your ass kicked. Today, though, it’s acceptable. And why not, times have changed. Look, when I was kid, VCRs had just come out and cost a grand, most color TVs had that greenish haze on everything, and if you were getting “surround sound” it was only because your brother glued your head to the screen. When you went to the movies, there was nothing like it, anywhere. It was a unique experience, and you—and pretty much everyone else—treated it as such.

Today, movies are merely meh in comparison to playing Halo 2 on a plasma screen TV with 1080 progressive scan. The times have changed. If you don’t agree with me, consider this: If you saw Romeo and Juliet in the Globe Theater in 1596, chances are you’d be standing in horse shit and getting pushed back and fourth by drunks. There would be a guy next to you pissing in a bucket, and a guy behind him pissing, well, not into a bucket, and every few seconds someone would scream out “That Juliet kid’s okay, but he’s no Burbage.”

Now, the next time you go to a Shakespeare production—I don’t know, in your next life, maybe—pay particular attention to the audience’s etiquette.

You see, things change.

Still, some of you curmudgeons out there aren’t willing to go gently into the night. No, you want to do something about it. Good news, then, because I have some advice that might work for you. It won’t help you enjoy the movie, but I guarantee it will improve your movie-going experience.

I have a recipe for the best pinto beans you will ever taste. Even if you hate pinto beans, take but one bite and you will melt. My wife, however, forbids me to make these beans as they turn my colon into a nuclear reactor.

Seriously, the last time I ate them, I didn’t just wake up the dog; I woke up the neighbor’s dog.

One last time, anyway.

Now, I’m not going to give you the recipe for my beans because I have no desire to be on the FBI’s most wanted list. That said, each of you know of a food that will turn, the second you swallow it, into a devil’s chuckle.

Come on, you know where I’m going with this. Pound down as much of that food as you can, let it simmer for an hour or two, then get your ass down to the theater.

Might I suggest an action flick? All the gunplay can mask your detonations. Although, if you want the most bang for your buck and you aren’t too concerned about anonymity, nothing beats a romantic comedy. Picture it: piano notes in the background, a teary-eyed Rene Zellwegger about to embed herself into the consciousness of every woman in the audience when she says: “Shut up Jerry. Just shut up. You had me at…” Frooump.

Regardless of what movie you see, it’s a good idea to get there a few minutes early so you can pick your target. Sit as close as you can to the first cell phone you notice. And, if you have the control, let a few a quiet ones out before the movie starts—you know, like a coming attraction. This way, you get to see their faces while the lights are still up. Then, when the movie starts, it’s hammer time.

For your own safety, be sure to follow each blast by giving the people around you an indignant glare. Play it up and, if you’re really feeling it, it’s not a bad idea to jump up now and again and scream “God damned bastard. If I find you…” Don’t get too crazy, but you are at the movies. Enjoy yourself.

And when the movie’s over, sit back and relish the sight of shell-shocked people trembling, pushing each other toward the exit while a mother leans into her son and sobs “I was wrong, Billy. There is no god.” When all the people are gone, stand up, take a loving look at the smoking hole you’ve left in the seat, and walk out into the sun knowing your love affair with the cinema has been rekindled.

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