Last week I was rather formal with my inaugural installment of "The Exhibitionist." So, now, let me introduce it properly: this is a new column devoted to movie theaters and why they're still worth your time and money. This is also a place to discuss the movie-going experience, with detailed stories and observations, in addition to being a discussion of the theater industry. Sometimes it will be a rant about what needs changing; other times it will be a recognition of great ideas already in place -- such as last week's comparative look at two examples of incentive opportunities. Hopefully "The Exhibitionist" will also generate more discussion from you, the reader; feel free to tell me what needs to be examined or why you think my suggestions are bad by using this as your own outlet for better solutions.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me get to the topic you all seem to be most interested in: movie theater etiquette. Everyone has their complaints about why the movie-going experience is so terrible these days and about how much of it has to do with the behavior of the rest of the audience. But I don't need to go into a list of things that are wrong about our fellow moviegoers. Nor do I need to list the proper etiquette that should be followed when one goes to the movies. Instead, I'd like to offer up the notion that this etiquette stuff is a bunch of baloney. Personally I think many of our complaints are unfounded and worthless.
First of all, the things we complain about are for the most part nothing new. Take the problem with talkers, for instance. I asked a number of people this week about the earliest experience they had with such an annoyance, and plenty responses included incidents that occurred as early as the ' 60s. And I'm sure that's only because I didn't talk to people old enough to relate anything prior to that time. One person did tip me off to an example in print: In Renata Adler's review of 2001: A Space Odyssey for the New York Times, she pointed out that, "the uncompromising slowness of the movie makes it hard to sit through without talking-and people on all sides when I saw it were talking almost throughout the film. Very annoying."