Movie manners courtesy cards

When I was living in San Francisco and working with Cory Doctorow at OpenCola, we probably went out to go catch a movie once every couple of weeks. Our observation, as Canadians living among Americans, was that “American etiquette” is:

a) an oxymoron, and

b) at its worst in movie theatres.

Cory told me that he believed the home theatre changed movie-going behaviour: people were simply behaving as if they were in their own homes rather than in movie theatres. It’s an example of the inappropriateness of certain private behaviours brought into a public space.

The most over-the-top breach of manners we experienced was during Hannibal. We sat in front of a couple that insisted on giving voice to every stray thought that crossed their minds throughout the movie.

During the beautifully-shot scenes in Florence: “Damn, Italy is beautiful. We gotta go there sometime, baby.”

Watching Hannibal Lecter overpower just about everybody: “Damn, he strong for an old man.”

When Gary Oldman’s disfigured character first appears in full view: “Damn, you ugly.”

Cory threw them an angry glance and I turned around to shush them with each outburst of theirs. Each time we admonished them, they’d sheepishly make some kind of apologetic gesture and remain contritely quiet for a couple of minutes. Soon afterwards, something would happen onscreen, a new thought would coalesce in their brains and they’d vocalise once more.

During Ray Liotta’s last scene — a rather grim and gross one at that — the guy behind us broke the stunned silence with his funniest outburst of the show:

“Daaa-yum! Hannibal be eatin’ HIS BRAIN!”

Glarkware has a product that might help out in situations like the one I just described. For a mere US$3.50, you can purchase a pack of 25 business card-sized “movie manners courtesy cards”, shown below:

Photo: Glarkware movie manners courtesy card (front and back).

According to Glarkware’s site:

Handing one to a talker means that you don’t have to make a “shush” noise even louder than the talking. The vague wording of the text gives the (false) impression that the cards have been distributed by the theatre chain, lending the card-giving an authority that your “shush” lacks.

3 replies on “Movie manners courtesy cards”

It’s a good idea, but what happens if you pass a card, but it’s too dark to read it? By the time the film starts, and people start being annoying, it’s usually too dark to read, or even to try and find your stash of ‘movie manners’ cards, unless you’re fully prepared beforehand..

(not registered, but my name’s Alia)

I’d have to agree with Joey here. On a trip to Atlanta one year we made the mistake of going to some sort of dinner movie theater. We didn’t realize it until we actually got in to our seats. I couldn’t believe the feeding frenzy that ensued during the movie. It seemed as though we were watching a movie with death row inmates during their last meal or something. I couldn’t enjoy the movie over all the smacking of gums/teeth/lips, clanking of cutlery and guzzling of beer and all the talking. Not to mention the waitress asking us a million times if we would like something. “Ya, I’d like everyone to shut the heck up so I can watch this damn movie”.

Were they black? The difference in what is acceptable in more dominantly black theatres versus white theatres is pretty well known (in fact, it’s the basis of a lot of typical “this is what black people are like/this is what white people are like” schtick by some black comedians) — lots of talking back to the screen, more of a festive atmosphere. Maybe they were just bringing that attitude?

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