Let's Talk About: Manners at Movies And Concerts

It’s become an epidemic, a scourge for those hoping to enjoy any pop culture event. There is a reason people are going to the theater less and waiting for a concert DVD. The answer rests with a segment of people who are disrupting the experience for everyone, and nothing is being done about it.

People loudly talking through a movie as if they are giving a director’s commentary that everyone is on the edge of their seats to hear. And concert goers who are so intoxicated they spill into the seats of those in front of them (usually the one you are occupying) as they wildly scream and curse, while an artist sings on stage. The rudeness has gotten out of control and the worst part is establishments are doing absolutely nothing about it.

You can pay upwards of $10 of your hard earned money for a single movie ticket (more if you imbibe in concessions) so you can relax at the theater with the latest release. Instead of being able to enjoy said entertainment, you hear mumbling through the trailers. “That’s okay” you tell yourself it’s just the previews, once the movie starts they will quiet down. Wrong! Their talking continues and continues with the added benefit of halting ever so often as to make one think they’re done. Only to have them start up again once you’ve decided not to leave the theater, so you don’t miss any of the movie, you’ve been looking forward to seeing for months (or in some cases years).

Asking them to be quiet yourself, can lead to a violent outburst on the other person’s part and without an usher or security guard standing by, things can escalate quickly. I know this from personal experience. It is not the job of a customer to wrangle or discipline the behavior of a belligerent individual, it is management's. You’ve paid to enjoy the experience, and another person is ruining it. You shouldn't have to experience any further inconvenience.

It is getting to the point there needs to be a standby security guard to sit with the audience during the movie. When they notice someone causing a disruption they need to be dealt with accordingly. One warning and then expulsion, if there are no consequences, there will be no change in their behavior. Once the word gets out about this zero-tolerance policy, there should be a drastic reduction in these sort of incidents.

Sadly theaters aren’t taking this problem seriously, and I have had several personal experiences that speak to that. One of which occurred while attending a movie in the recent past. Two people were chatting throughout the entire thing. There were no lulls, just non-stop conversation. A family member sought out management and reported it. The response they received? “That’s the point of the movie, to involve the audience.” “Even if it comes at the expense of a fellow moviegoer who doesn’t care to hear it?” the shocked plaintiff responded. “If it upsets you, you can leave” the manager retorted. Wow.

Concerts are also a natural battleground for rude behavior. People sometimes stand in front of other members of the audience, blocking the view for people in wheelchairs or those too stricken to stand. Sometimes you can be fortunate enough to have a seated crowd. I recently attended a concert that had that setup. It was an indie pop artist (I’m going to pull a Taylor Swift and not name names) who I’ve been a huge fan of for years. There was a lot that had to be overcome to get there, and when I arrived, I was beyond excited to have actually made it to see them.

In the crowded theater, the people behind me were already jawing away, so loudly you could hear them over the interim music. Then an individual I will refer to as “Mr. Drunk” arrives. He is talking even louder than his fellow row-mates, and his already inebriated girlfriend is spilling over into the row in front of her and the chair next to mine.

Hopes they will straighten up their act when the concert begins are quickly dashed. The artist is playing an acoustic set, and you can hear every word dripping from Mr. Drunk’s mouth. People in front of me, start to glance back at who the rude reveler is and only offer daggered looks in his direction. This is not enough to shut Mr. Drunk up. His girlfriend tells him to be quiet because people are getting upset and he crudely tells her he doesn’t care. 

By the third song, I’ve had it, and there are two ushers standing nearby. The situation is reported, and the usher goes to deal with it. Well, since Mr. Drunk is behind me, I can’t really tell if he’s being confronted. However, he is not heard running his mouth for two songs. Then he starts back up again, and this time, the ushers are nowhere to be seen.

It goes from two ushers being within leaning distance to there being zero in the vicinity. After already knowing there has been a complaint they don’t stick around to babysit the situation. Instead, I spot them towards the end of the concert, standing behind my section, watching and enjoying the concert like those who’ve paid to attend. Wow.

One of the problems was the overall rowdy atmosphere. One wouldn’t expect that going in, considering it’s an indie pop artist. There isn’t any vulgarity to speak of in their music, and their catalog is mainly comprised of the dreamy ballads you’ve heard on TV. Acknowledging the crowd is one thing, giving a stand-up comedy routine is a totally different animal, especially with this group.

Keep in mind, the artist could’ve sung 6 more songs in the time they spent chatting with the crowd. The artist eventually speaks directly to a woman in the audience and banters with them, which is cool except for it entices others to get in on it. Lone screams start up, and these aren’t just any screams, they are deafening hollers reminiscent of battle cries, strictly aimed to get the artist’s attention. 

Well, Mr. Drunk notices this, and soon he’s yelling at the stage (right in my ear) for “one more song!” The artist hears him this time, and their face contorts with disgust. It’s clear this is a response to Mr. Drunk as there was dead silence beforehand. Still, nothing is said to him. As it turns out the reason there was a brief calm earlier was that he’d left to get more drinks.

That’s right, drinks; plural. He was already 11 sheets to the wind. Why continue selling to a man who is so intoxicated he can barely stand? Still, no one comes over and gives him a final warning or escorts him out.

While I could’ve left (probably should’ve); I didn’t want him to win. I am so sick and tired of these bullies getting their way. They’re wretchedly selfish, and their behavior does not deserve to be rewarded with what they desire most, running you out. Those enjoying events shouldn’t have to concern themselves with these quagmires in the first place. They’ve already done their part by paying to have a nice time. Management needs to do their job.

I can honestly say that after the trauma sustained at this concert, it will be a long time before I ever go to one again. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, and until I get word that those managing these events are taking this epidemic seriously, I have no interest in attending anymore. Time might heal all wounds, but a call to action by the management at entertainment venues would do more.

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