About a week ago AMC Theaters announced plans to allow customers to use their phones to text while in a movie. After a huge amount of backlash online the company immediately backed down from the plan. This isn’t the first time this issue has popped up. Other theaters have toyed with the idea of having showtimes that would specifically allow people to text during the film. This is continues to be an issue that will pop up every now and then. Today I’m going to look at the pros and cons of theater texting and why it will not go away.
-What Does the Majority Want?-
While the Internet has been extremely vocal about their disdain for this idea, could this just be a case of the squeaky wheel getting the most grease. Based on MPAA statistics the 2nd biggest demographic of moviegoers are in the 18 to 24 age area. The only group with bigger numbers are 25 to 39. This means that a large majority of moviegoers are in the age gap that stereotypically uses their phone in theaters. If they’re the ones who are pouring a lot of money into theaters it stands to reason that they’d want texting to be allowed. Live tweeting has become a big trend with television and it could be something that will bleed over to films.
-Finding a Compromise-
Could there be a possible solution to this that would make everyone happy? As I mentioned earlier, there was once talk about making specific showtimes for cellphone use. My assumption is that there would only be a handful of these while most showtimes would stick to the no phone policy. Another idea is to make seating that would be for cellphone users (anyone remember smoking sections in restaurants) and the rest would be for everyone else. Either you’d have to make the back row for cellphone users or you’d have to put in dividers that would block out screen glow from anyone sitting behind cellphone users. The problem is that neither of these ideas are foolproof. People are still going to use their phones when they aren’t suppose to because, well people are rude.
-Is Three Hours Without a Phone That Hard?-
I think this is the major point most detractors have used about cellphone use in theaters. When you go into a movie it’s assumed that you’ve carved out a chunk of time that you can spend undisturbed by the outside world. If there is any reason that you need to be in contact with someone odds are you shouldn’t be in a theater.
-Phones Aren’t the Only Problem-
Let’s face it, even if you were to confiscate every person’s phone before they entered the theater that doesn’t guarantee a distraction free screening. Some people are just rude individuals who will treat a theater as though it’s their own living room. I’ve had multiple experiences where people don’t seem to understand/care about the importance of etiquette to strangers. I once had a person threaten to beat me up because I asked an usher to tell them to keep their baby quiet during a screening of Burn After Reading. So no matter what there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t have any form of manners.
As usual what are your thoughts? Can there be a compromise between cellphone users and non-cellphone users in theaters? Should every theater be a strict as The Alamo Dafthouse when it comes to cellphone users? Do you have a story about a rude moviegoer that you’d like to share?