I MISS the cinema.
Truly I do. I mean, I go once or twice a week. Sometimes three times a week. Heck, sometimes three times in a rainy, selfish Saturday. But I miss it. Truly I do. At the risk of sounding like somebody's granny, discombobulated by the latest shifting of the layout of a supermarket's aisles (Jam? Last week this was soap powder!), the cinema has changed and it is not what it was.
I have been unhappily musing over this problem for quite some time and it seems I'm not alone: disgruntled cinema-goer Mark Pledger this week posted on Odeon cinema's Facebook page a detailed lambasting of why the whole "cinema experience" is, not to put too fine a point on it, now rubbish.
Pledger makes some good points: tickets and food are expensive (£21 for two and a 7UP, in his case), sound leaked in from a neighbouring screen and crabbit staff. "You are putting plenty of nails into the cinema coffin Odeon," he finishes, spitting popcorn in the face of the multiplex. His wee rant has gone viral, as the kids call it, and attracted 200,000 likes and nigh on 20,000 comments.
Multiplexes currently show an advert before films featuring a dusty, crumbling picturehouse as a warning that pirate DVDs are a canker rotting the spine of the cinema and threatening its future health.
Pirate DVDs are not the problem. Price, lazy staff and shoddy soundproofing are not the problem. Other people are the problem. Modern Cinemagoer is the problem.
As I said, I go to the cinema a lot. I've got one of those pay monthly loyalty cards and I now go because I was raised to appreciate the value of money and thus must go as often as possible or the guilt at a few pennies wasted cripples me. This used not to be a chore but is becoming such due to Modern Cinemagoer, usually aged 25 and under and either on a date or in a hormonal gaggle but occasionally a fully grown adult.
These people do not know how to sit still. These people cannot concentrate for more than 20 minutes at a time. They cannot think or engage or even have the basic good manners to wheesht and show some respect for other people round about them who are able to sit still, concentrate and at least try and get a little value out of the ticket price.
These people have become so used to posting their every brain belch on Facebook or Twitter that they just can't close their gaping jaws long enough to unengage their fat tongues and engage their fat heads in pondering the thought: "Why am I talking? It's dark, there's a film showing and I have nothing worthwhile to say."
It's like sharing a space with a bunch of super-sized toddlers who think because the lights are dimmed they're invisible.
What do we do about it? Take the school teacher circa 1993 approach and make them stand up and tell the audience what's so important it can't wait until the interval? There's only so many times you can say "Shh!" or, as my friend helpfully said to one particularly idiotic couple: "You're not allowed to talk here."
Worse, more and more 3D and 4D films are being released: 3D and 4D films are fodder for imbeciles. Why bother mentally engaging with a movie when you can just physically engage with it in your shoogly chair and natty glasses. Cinema attendance is flat or falling and why? Is it that films are rubbish nowadays? Is it that we can't afford to go? Would people rather sit in their living rooms with their massive flatscreen telly slabs? Probably all of the above.
But for those of us who love the cinema, for those of us who immerse ourselves in films and their glorious transportational power, Modern Cinemagoer is ruining it. So, please, I'm begging you: shut up or stay at home.
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