An Analysis – The “Do”s and “Don’t”s of Theater Etiquette


Obviously, answering your cell phone to carry on a conversation would go in the no-talking category. I miss the days when cellphones at the movies weren’t a problem. Texting made things worse, and smart phones full of apps and games hve practically ruined the whole cinema-going experience. When that prompt pops up before the movie, asking you to silence your electronic devices—which should be common bleeding knowledge—it’s not just giving you helpful advice. It’s giving you life-preserving information.

It seems like only twelve years ago, families would skip together to their local cinemas, dressed in their Sunday best. They would happily pay for their tickets—before they were made of that cheap flimsy fax paper—and joyfully wait for their movie to start. Now as soon as I take my seat I begin to eye everyone sitting around me. I look nearby for white glowing squares coming forth from the palms of the inattentive and the inconsiderate. I shouldn’t even have to ask this, but why are you at the movies if you are more interested in texting and playing Angry Birds or Words with Friends? This isn’t your living room, and though you are being quiet—thanks for that, by the way—that small amount of illumination from the screen, even when it’s dimmed, is distracting as all hell.


More recently, electronic tablets such as iPads or the Kindle Fire have been showing up more and more as an extension of this phone-related problem. I am fascinated by the type of mind who would even consider bringing something like an iPad to a movie and think it was excusable. Even more so, I am befuddled by their friends who don’t tell them before they have entered auditorium to put the damn thing away. I specifically remember a time when I noticed somebody playing a two-person game on his Kindle while the previews played. I wasn’t going to do anything about it until the movie had started, but I kept a watchful eye on him anyway. Soon after the previews were over and the film began, I looked down at him once more. He was apparently so dedicated to playing his game that he had draped his coat over his head and arms like an A.D.D fort of money-wasting idiocy. I alerted an usher. If you ever see me in a theater, you should know that I am never too embarrassed to tattle.

Kids and Babies:

Let’s talk a little about kids and babies. I am going to assume that you know your children pretty well. You know when they get hungry, when they get tired, and when they get impatient. You should know what kind of movies they can sit through and which ones they can’t. I have a good hunch that your kids probably don’t like political thrillers or sex comedies…just saying. I am also going to assume that when I have to deal with your bratty moppets kicking the back of my seat, running up and down the aisles, crying, whining, or TALKING, that you had a pretty good idea that this might happen. That makes it your fault, and I hate you (and them) for it.

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid 2

When I was younger, I went to movies often, and as I recall I was a pretty good movie-kid. I liked going and I behaved. I bet that there might have been a time or two when I had to be shushed or told to sit still, but I never remember getting into any kind of significant trouble for disobedience at a theater. Not all kids are like this. God bless the ones who are, and they will become the movie fans and future cinephiles of the world, but if your kid can’t sit down and shut the hell up, he or she needs to stay home with a babysitter.

Guess who else needs to be home with a babysitter? Babies, that’s who. All babies. Every single baby ever birthed needs to not be in a theater. They cry, they poop, and they cannot be consoled. No baby can ever enjoy a film. They have no grasp of characters, stories, or even entertainment. You know why? Because they’re babies. If you can’t get a babysitter, guess who isn’t going to the movies that night? You. I know it sucks, but that is only one of the many things you should have considered before procreating.

So, with this, I can end my rant and only hope that if you find yourselves in breach of any of this advice, then you will think a little bit about it before ruining everything for everyone. I understand that not everyone has the patience it takes to sit down and not speak or move for a couple of hours. If this is the case for you, than you should probably find a new pastime, like sports. Go outside and kick a ball around, while the rest of us, who have become well practiced at sitting and not talking to other people, can enjoy our moving pictures.


If you have read this and you can sympathize with my plight, then I urge you to take the two minutes to call in an usher and ask these people to cut it out. The only way we will ever see any change in bad theater etiquette is if people are embarrassed more often by complete strangers. Never be afraid to turn around and tell someone to shut up, and never be afraid to leave your kids home alone or in your car during a hot summer matinee. Just crack open the windows a little bit.

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Raised in South-East Idaho and currently working in Los Angeles, Cassidy is a freelance film journalist and an experienced geek.

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