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Monday
Feb202012

People are Garbage

An Overdue Tirade Against Cineplex Slobs

Are you the kind of person I'd have to slap, were we to ever see a movie together? To find out, please answer the following question as honestly as possible:

When exiting a movie theatre auditorium, which behavior is acceptable for anyone over the age of five?

A. Collect all candy wrappers, drink cups, and/or snack containers (including popcorn tubs, nacho boxes, and wax gourmet pretzel sheets); deposit them neatly in the nearest trash can. In the event of an overflowing trash can, carry refuse to the second- or third-nearest and deposit them neatly inside.

B. Leave all candy wrappers, drink cups, and/or snack containers (including popcorn tubs, nacho boxes, and wax gourmet pretzel sheets) exactly where you last placed them/spilled them/knocked them over. Exit the theatre with your shame-free head held curiously high.

I hope to God you're in the "A" camp, but the more I go to the movies, the more I'm convinced that everyone on the planet has forgotten about manners. Just as vehicle turn signals will, I suspect, face obsolescence in the next five years due to lack of use, the idea of picking up after oneself seems to have long gone out of fashion; when the lights came up after Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance the other night, I could count the number of seats not sprinkled with popcorn and Raisinettes much more quickly than those that were.

You might ask, "What do you expect from people who flock to Ghost Rider 2 on opening night?" Fair point (especially considering the prolonged tantrum by a six-year-old whose parent refused to silence him, and whose fellow patrons couldn't be bothered to find a manager). But I saw the same gross behavior two months ago at The Artist, in what was once a classy, respectable art theatre. There's something else at play here.

Could it be the down economy? Are these slobs, these fat, grease-fingered cretins* actually trying to boost the demand for more workers to clean up after them? I doubt it. That degree of thought and empathy is typically reserved for people who understand why picking up trash is an issue of both health and dignity.

Yeah, that's right: health and dignity. Ever hear about rats and bugs invading movie theatres? What do these creatures love most? Darkness and food. I'm not saying that all cineplexes are subject to being overrun by vermin (though you wouldn't know it from looking at the box office lines), but leaving massive amounts of aromatic trash lying around in rooms that are, by definition, not well-lit, is all but an invitation for things to scurry past your feet.

And don't give me that, "Well, they clean the theatres between every screening, so what're you complaining about?" nonsense.

First, the number of times I've walked into a theatre--especially the large auditoriums showing blockbusters--and seen drink cups still in their armrest holders or quarter-full bags of popcorn peeking out from under a seat would probably astonish you.

But I'm not shocked. These venues are huge. Especially during whiz/bang season, when you've got twenty showtimes for the latest Vin Diesel monstrosity crammed into days that don't quite last fourteen hours, the pressure to make seats and aisles "clean enough" that the bulging hordes on-line in the hallway won't take a gripe-worthy level of notice has to be equally huge.

Given the viscosity of multi-colored, sickly floor tiles; damp seat cushions; and the irritating crunch of something attaching itself to your shoe while walking indoors, I assume it would take a financially prohibitive deep-cleanse to make every auditorium habitable after each screening. Until we end terrorism, resolve the financial crisis, and put a chicken in every pot, that's not going to happen.

So, it's up to us--more to the point, to you--to get your act together. One of the biggest complaints I hear from people regarding movie theatres is that the animals in attendance treat the place like it's their living room. I disagree. The numbers of actual hoarders in America is relatively small, and I can't believe anyone else would leave their TV room in the same disarray as they do cineplexes. Do you have to wade through crumbs, candies, and half-eaten hot dogs after you're done watching movies at home? If your garbage can is bursting at the seams, do you toss empty wrappers at it, hoping for some as-yet-undiscovered trash tractor beam to keep the chocolate-smeared paper from falling to the floor?

If the answer is "yes", you probably stopped reading after the second paragraph. If the answer is "no", feel free to spread the word. Hell, feel free to take action against these subhumans. Maybe start by shouting, "Hey! You forgot your popcorn!"

Actually launching three-quarters-full sodas into the air after offending patrons might be a bridge too far--but maybe not. Just make sure you can hold your own in a fight, and that you stick around afterwards to help mop up your mess.

Note: Special thanks to my friend, Bill, whose favorite phrase was the inspiration for this post's title. I think he appropriated it from somewhere else, but it'll always be his saying to me.

*I don't mean to imply that everyone who engages in this behavior is fat. I've seen every kind of person act like a rude pig. "Fat", though, implies a lack of will-power and concern that best captures what I'm trying to say. I hope you'll spare me the "but, but, buts" about glandular disorders and the like and take my greater point to heart. If not, that's okay, too.

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