I only came across it today, but former Google executive Hunter Walk sparked a bit of an internet firestorm about a week ago when he proposed a separate, and separate is the key word here, type of movie theater where talking and using electronic devices during the movie showing would be perfectly acceptable. I would expect such an idea to go over like a lead balloon with most theater-goers, after all it wouldn't be my type of good theater experience either, but the cascade of negativity at even contemplating such a separate venue from normal theaters was so histrionic that it became comical. Equally comical is the inevitable backlash to the backlash that showed up yesterday from the supremely idiotic Anil Dash. But let's start at the beginning.
Walk's initial spitballing can be found here. The gist of it is that he no longer goes to see some movies these days because following the normal theater etiquette is annoying to him. In those cases he would like to be able to stay plugged in and multitask in whatever manner with the movie in the background. Making it very clear that he does not wish to impose that on the rest of theater-goers as the norm, he wonders if there's a market to reconfigure one or two separate theaters of a multiplex to accomodate that sort of very different theater experience.
Well, from the reaction you would think he was calling for mandatory cigarette smoking in every theater in America, including for kiddie movies. Check out the comments there. I understand people who say they would hate such a theater, but what many are saying is that they are offended by the very idea, even if it would have no impact them. "How dare anyone even consider such a thing!"
So tell me, when did a significant number of theater-goers turn into the Rev. Shaw Moore from "Footloose"?
As if the backlash against Walk's idea wasn't ridiculous enough, Anil Dash had to go to the other extreme and demand that "the shushers" should simply give way to the barbarians and just deal with the distractions. Besides, politeness in a theater is some sort of social conservative oppression. Or something.
And maybe racism, because there's gotta be a racism angle if social conserv........zzzzzz.
Dash concludes with this:
But those of us who are okay with movie theaters sometimes having distractions are here. We’re the majority. We’re normal. Your bullying hasn’t worked. The only logical next step is to find a way to accommodate us. Or you could do that thing where you turn around and glare really fiercely—it seems to be working great!
Or I can get the usher and he can either knock it off or get thrown out. Or I could go all George Costanza on his ass:
As emotionally satisfying as I know that would be, I really don't want to get thrown in the clink if some numbnuts decides that he really does want to fight about it. Thankfully I haven't had to make that decision yet.
We should be able to deal with stuff like this more rationally. If you think playing with your phone or texting in the middle of a typical theater showing is okay, you're an asshole. There's really nothing to talk about. The theater staff should kick you out and you don't get your money back. See ya.
On the other hand, if some theater wants to show a movie in theater 1 in the traditional manner and in theater 2 as a texting/surfing-friendly environment, as long as people are aware of the difference what's the problem? I doubt there's that big a market for it, but if somebody wants to try then let him.