Now that we again have access to movies in theaters after their long widespread shuttering, we’re starting to remember the warts that came along with it. As is per usual when anything is forcibly denied, our memory of how good it was gets shinier and more golden with every passing moment. By the time we were deep into the pandemic, our stored mental experience of what it was like to watch a movie in theaters was basically a scene from one of those Coca-Cola ads that runs during the previews where the viewers are thrust into the magic of the silver screen by a vine growing out of the floor or something, while sipping on delicious Movie Theater Coke.

I will say, that is one thing that remains just as heavenly as the memories promised. Whatever settings theaters have for their Coca-Cola, post a picture of them online so that every fountain-owning business in America can dial that in. AMC Coke and McDonald’s Sprite, truly the king and queen of soda. That soda is unfortunately also tied to one of the other unpleasant realities that got excised from our nostalgia, which is the absolute gashing of a credit card statement that a trip to the movies can result in. There was a great period when MoviePass still thought it was a real business and movies were cheap and abundant, but nowadays we’re back to even an afternoon matinee hitting like a nice dinner.

But once you’ve obtained your concessions, and drained your weekly budget, you finally make it back into the theater, and let out a satisfied, dad-like sigh as you sink into a red cushioned seat. This is the moment where the greatest risk and nightmare of public movie viewing starts to become a threat. That is the disproportionate power and ability of a single dipshit to absolutely ruin over a hundred peoples’ entire experience. All it takes is one single movie-goer who’s obnoxious or an idiot or both, and you can hear the sound of 30 dollars per person being flushed directly down a cosmic toilet. 

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I can hear this photo.

Drawing that into particular relief is a recent meme known as “Gentleminions” where a bunch of assholes dress up in suits to go see the new Minions movie, Rise of Gru.  It's from TikTok, which is an app that is mostly 15 year olds cosplaying as therapists, blue-eyed teen boys with an undercut biting their bottom lip, and people throwing ketchup at minimum wage workers for clout. The meme is known as “Gentleminions” and it involves large amounts of teen boys going to see Rise of Gru dressed in suits. As you can imagine, these teens, once they have entered the theater, have very little interest in following the narrative. This has led to theaters in Great Britain, where the meme is prevalent, instituting a sort of bizarro country club dress code, where teens in formal wear will not be sold tickets to the film.

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When it comes to people ruining movies like this, most movie theaters are, like many businesses, shackled beyond any reproach by the bad manager’s mantra of “the customer is always right.” This was something that was parroted by malt shop owners from the mid-20th century about providing good service and then somehow was weaponized by the type of people who try to return half-eaten sushi because they forgot they don’t like fish. A massive tip of the cap to theaters like Alamo Drafthouse who will roundly eject people who are talking or on their phone during the movie, instead of allowing one person who is confused by the plot of an action movie to hold the entire theater hostage with the sparking, smoking mass of gray matter that is their brain.

Now, when people ruin movies through sheer stupidity or lack of social awareness, it sucks, but at the same time, they aren’t TRYING to. That is just, unfortunately, the person that they have become over the course of their life. Can I become seethingly angry at someone who needs their friend to provide a full appendix of audible footnotes in order for them to grasp the plot of a zombie movie? Yes, I can, and have. But that anger is also tempered, naturally, in the way that you can’t truly get angry at a child that doesn’t understand how to live in a world not designed for them.

More vitriol bubbles up for people that just apparently never learned how to be quiet for 2 hours, something usually covered in a functional kindergarten class. Whether they’re just completely unaware that they exist on the same auditory plane as the rest of the theater, or they’re just so physically attractive that no one’s ever told them to stop talking before, the friend or significant other that brought them does at least exist as sort of an avatar of pain that the rest of the theater experiences. Yet again, though, these people did, purportedly, come here with the intention of enjoying the same movie as everybody else. They aren’t here with the express purpose of ruining everyone’s day. They’re just a dud, one of the failed subjects in the experiment of being able to go through life without pissing everybody else off.

But when people go to the movies with the EXPRESS intent of f**king up everybody else’s 2.5 hours of blissful distraction? Straight to jail. Movie theaters should have a secret prison underneath their building like Disneyland does, where people who ruin movies on purpose should have to stay. I want to see them through little barred slits at the base of the sidewalk, folding the boxes nachos come in and stirring up big vats of popcorn butter until they’ve learned their lesson. And when the people who are intentionally ruining these movies are doing it for TikTok? Not only should they go to Movie Jail, but they should be immediately put on the bottom rung of its inherent internal caste system.

This is an absolute nightmare amalgam of everything that is a pain in the ass. Teenage boys, TikTok, and movie talkers. I imagine the experience is like trying to watch a movie in a Chipotle next to a high-school that just let out on a half-day. Not only that, but because of their choice of movie, in the name of I guess a both elementary and misguided grasp of irony, the people that are exposed to the fallout of this obnoxious bullshit are two of the people that truly do not need any more pain in their lives: children and beleaguered parents. One of them is trying to enjoy a blissful 90 minutes of darkness and relative peace, and the other has spent all week looking forward to this movie while doing active shooter drills in their elementary school.

Does this all sound like a bunch of crotchety boomer complaining? Maybe, and if so, I am fine with becoming the villain. If the rocking chair fits, in it I will sit. And I will scream, with the voice of 30+ year olds going back through time to a quiet universe, “Don’t you have anything better to do?”

Top Image: Pixabay/Pixabay

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