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The 'silent' offenders of the cinema

Nothing beats watching a movie in a packed theatre with nice seats, good sound and the right audience. Knowing that this is by no means an objective subject, I still choose to emphasize the word 'right' because I do believe that you can be in the company of the wrong people when watching a movie. And I think most people will agree with that. There's the obvious person who uses their cell phone during a screening even though it's been firmly established that such an act is not considered socially acceptable. There's also the obvious person who converses with the person next to them throughout a movie like it's social hour.

But these are the obvious cases, and someone (thank goodness) usually calls them out on it, and they typically stop. What I'm ranting about at the moment are the less obvious cases. For clarity, we'll call these people the 'silent' offenders. They're the people who over react to every little plot twist and striking line of dialogue, but yield a reaction that is justunder-the-top enough to not get called out for it. I'm talking about the person who constantly gasps and mutters 'uh huh' during a movie, and has a half dozen other reactions that are clearly audible to their fellow audience members within a close vicinity. These are usually also the people who can't seem to find the right spot in their seats, and adjust their bodies so much you think they're on a pressure ulcer prevention routine. And I call them the 'silent' offenders because they're doing all this at a level of subtlety that just narrowly escapes public scorning. It's basically at a level where if you were to confront them during the screening, you would be considered the rude one.

And this is infinitely frustrating because little things like this do affect your experience of a movie. This morning, I was watching Miss Sloane (as part of TIFF's Real Talk series), which was an amazing movie for so many reasons, but the person next to me was a typical case-in-point of what I'm describing here. And I can't say that she ruined the movie for me, because she didn't, but she did tamper with my experience of certain parts of the movie. And by extension, tampered with my viewing experience in general. I'm not saying people can't react to their core feelings when watching a movie in public, in fact, it's part of what makes watching a movie in theatres so special. But there are certain scenes that are meant to be appreciated internally without any form of externalized response, and it's precisely at these moments that 'silent' offences occur. I'm also not pin-pointing this Miss Sloane screening as a defining experience for me on this topic, it's just the most fresh example that sprouted this long gestating idea of mine that I always wanted to put on paper (figuratively speaking). It also gives me an excuse to insert this badass picture of Jessica Chastain.

When you watch a movie in theatres, you're in a public space, and no one has full ownership of that. I'm merely referring to social etiquette, and the difficulties of condemning behaviour that treads right below the line of social inappropriateness. Either that, or I'm just being way too picky and should probably just stay home, buy a bigger television set and wait for that Blu-Ray to come out.

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