I abandoned the movie theaters before the turn of the century, years before any of these tragedies. I made the decision, not for personal safety reasons, but because of my distaste for the cinema experience in general.
As a kid, I didn’t see a lot of shows on the big screen. Growing up in the television era undoubtedly had something to do with this. Especially during autumn and winter, when darkness came early, I didn’t care to ride across town in the family car — and then sit for two hours in a big, darkened room full of strange people. I much preferred staying home, watching a favorite show — or the occasional feature film — on my parents’ TV set.
Most theatrical showings started in the evening, about two or three hours before my bedtime. Being already half asleep by show time, I didn’t get much out of these pictures anyway. I hardly remember anything about them now — including most of the film titles.
Oh, a few gripping images have lingered in my mind — an airplane exploding in midair, a man plunging off a cliff to his death in the water below. Whether the midair blast was sabotage, or whether the plunge was suicide, I don’t remember.
My Theater Pet Peeves
- Air conditioning too strong. In summer, when I’d already become accustomed to 90 degrees F. outdoors, an abrupt switch to 72 indoors could be quite a jolt.
- Latecomers. Enough said there.
- Chronic chatterboxes. I’ll let you imagine the rest.
- Loud volume. This I found especially irritating. It was bad enough with the dialogue but even worse with music and sound-effect tracks. Another occasion for earplugs.
And Today: Rowdy Patrons, Bratty Kids
Two annoyances that would definitely keep me away from theaters now are problems I didn’t encounter during my own movie-going days. But since abandoning the theaters, I’ve heard — and read — more than a few horror stories involving both:
- Unruly patrons. Occasionally, confrontations between these strong-willed characters have turned deadly — as in the tragic January 2014 shooting death of Chad Oulson in Florida.
- Permissive parents who bring along their disruptive toddlers — and then subject the whole audience to their, oh, so precious little brats — for two hours. It seems the parents haven’t come too far, mentally, from the playpen stage themselves.
Home Theater versus Cinema
Now, if going to theaters is your idea of fun, then great — have fun with it. I’m not telling you to stay away. Just don’t invite me. With today’s digital media technology and home theater systems — you guessed it — you won’t see me at the local cinemas anymore. I get so much more out of a feature film at home.