March 26, 2013

Warning: Article not for Texters. Please Turn Off Cellphones Before Reading.

“Close your eyes… do you trust me?” ~ Jack

“I trust you” ~ Rose

“Now, open your eyes” ~Jack

“Jack, I’m flying!” ~Rose

The beautiful music starts, Rose and Jack stand on the mast of the ship, embracing each other, their hair blowing in the wind and then, the kiss. Oh, that kiss. Emotions rising, tears coming, everyone in the theater is in complete silent…cellphone ringing.

Are you f*&^(%g kidding me?!

I just paid a painstaking $18 USD during an economic crisis to see one of my favorite love stories Titanic, in 3D. Does that mean anything to people? Does there really need to be a “no cellphone/no texting” sign for people to understand that the flash of cellphone screens and the sound of cellphones ringing, buzzing, vibrating, chirping or singing during a movie is unbelievably distracting and rude?!

And do not give me excuses. If someone is a doctor waiting upon a nurse or surgeon’s text concerning an unstable patient, or a CIA operative waiting for the ‘green light go-ahead’ call from a colleague regarding a terrorist attack, then he or she probably shouldn’t have made the conscious decision to see a movie.

And for everyone else, there is absolutely, positively, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously no reason to answer or check a cell phone during a 90-minute, 120-minute or even 180-minute film!!

It’s becoming unbearable for me. The fact that a person cannot resist the urge to text a friend, post a photo on Instagram or check a Facebook status, Twitter tweet or e-mail every 15 minutes. It’s even more disconcerting that almost every single person in America (regardless of age) is carrying, no dependent on a mobile. You can see nine-year-olds, 19-year-olds, 39-year-olds, even 99-year-olds navigating a Smartphone, iPhone, FlipPhone, CloudPhone, BubblePhone, whatever you call it. And people are always playing with them at the most unnecessary moments: in the yoga studio (you’re in Shavasana, for Bikram’s sake!!!), on a date (your ex’s status update is more intriguing than the lady sitting across from you?!), and in the movie theater (you need two screens to occupy your attention in a dark room?).

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project statistics, 45 percent of teens had cellphones of their own in 2004, a number that steadily rose to 63 percent in 2006, and a staggering 71 percent by 2008. In 2008, 52 percent of 12-13 year olds had cellphones, a number which jumped to 72 percent by the age of 14. By the age of 17, more than 8 in 10 teens (84 percent) were texting with their very own cellular device. And as of December 2012, 87 percent of American adults had cellphones.

And obviously, people are no longer capable as human beings of exercising discipline and discretion. It’s become so bad that they are being rewarded by companies when they are on their best behavior with their phones. Ladies and gentlemen, there is a not-so-smart phone application that rewards repeat theater texters for switching their phones to vibrate during a movie. Yes, I’m serious.

According to an ABC news article, CineMark—a major operator of movie theaters—launched a feature on its app called “CineMode” which encourages moviegoers to stop clicking “send” in a movie theater by rewarding them with digital coupons directly to their smartphones. The app is available to all Android and iPhone smartphones.

How it works:

After smartphone users have downloaded the application, they will be instructed to launch CineMode. A brief message will flash on the theater’s screen just before the movie begins. If CineMode is in full use, the screen on their smart phones will dim instantly and customers will be instructed to turn the phone’s volume to vibrate mode.

The reward:

If movie goers can remain (can being the key word) in CineMode for the entire length of the film, they will earn a digital coupon through the app. The coupons can be found in the “rewards” section of the app. So, each time movie-goers watch a movie at a CineMark theater, they will earn rewards while being courteous to those around them. As critics have said, “it’s a win-win” situation.

Really?! Are you serious? The only way people will keep their phones off for a 90-minute film that they paid money to see, is if they are given some type of incentive, a reward?  As Leslie Horn brilliantly put it in her Gizmodo article: “it’s as if the Justice Department started giving tax breaks to people who don’t commit murder.”


Thank goodness some theaters still have their integrity and the balls to take a stance against texting’s pervasive influence. Actually, this is the best story I have come across thus far, concerning a movie theater’s “no texting” policy. Most theaters are passive in the approach to ban texting, afraid that they might lose customers if they buckle down. One theater however, upholds its policy to the fullest extent and is not afraid to boot customers.

In 2011, the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, had a disgruntled customer leave a voice mail complaining that she was kicked out of the theater for texting during the movie. For those of you who do not know, the Alamo is considered one of the best theater chains in the country with a very stringent policy on talking and texting during movies. If they catch people using their phones, they kick them out of the theater, period. No refund. Cut throat, I love it.

So, what did the Alamo do about the girl’s voice mail complaint? Drafthouse founder Tim League posted a blog and a subsequent public service announcement (PSA) using the girl’s complaint. The PSA intended to run in front of all their R-rated films.

At the end of the long PSA, the girl says “…so thanks for making me feel like a customer! Thanks for takin’ my money asshole!” to which Alamo tactfully responds: “You’re welcome! Thanks for not coming back to the Alamo, texter!

”I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” ~ Albert Einstein


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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