Why is this post going to be really lazy but funny? Well, this little bold bit is the only piece that I'M actually writing, and the rest, including the pic, has been nicked from the Empire Blog - I sent this to my mum and she agreed. Hopefully you'll laugh and nod at the same time too!
I am, I think it’s fair to say, what you could describe as a cinema fascist. For me a trip to the local multiplex isn’t so much a night of enjoyment but an endless litany of irritations, injustices and insults perpetrated against my person by the general public. I suppose it’s an inevitable side effect of spending the better part of a decade being coddled by private studio screenings where we’re presented with nibbles, wine and the occasional Pret sandwich tray.
Such screenings, where you're often one of only a handful present, have become the norm in my mind, so you can imagine the horror when I’m occasionally dropped headfirst into the howling, sticky sea of degradation and depravity that is your average fleapit performance. Frankly, it makes me want to have a shower. And then kill everyone in the room. And then have another one to wash the gore off my hands. An overreaction? Possibly, but why, I ask you, do people go to the cinema when they clearly have no interest in actually watching the movie?
But I’m getting off track. Having been scarred by years of public cinemagoing as a civilian before finally finding solace at the bosom of Empire, i think it's time that something was done to improve the cinemagoing experience. I propose that we all unite to draw up a list of cinemagoing commandments (enforceable by some kind of nasty biblical torture), to which anyone viewing a film in a public place must adhere. It should go something like this:
1. Thou shalt not have stupid trendy hair that sticketh up and obscureth my view
All cinema patrons should be required, on pain of buzz cut, to sport a sensible haircut whereby the hair itself stays flat upon the scalp. Regardless of how much you think you look like that muppet from McFly, I do not need to spend half the film trying to peer past congealing spires of hair gel thank you so very much. The same goes for headwear – caps off when you sit down. And no, I don’t care if it’s street or cool or you’ve left the tags on to make it look like you stole it.While not a commandment in its own right, a sub-directive of this should be something along the lines of thou shalt not sit bolt upright unlest thou sufferest from some kind of chiropractic condition. Headwear or no, cinema seat backs are high for a reason: you’re meant to slouch. This is in part so you can enjoy the slobbish act of watching movies to the full but also so half the movie isn’t projected onto the back of your bloody head. Heed. Doon.
2. Thou shalt not shout encouragement to yonder protagonists
What’s wrong with you? It’s a movie. It’s an entirely one-directional experience and Matt Damon neither needs nor is in any way able to hear your vocal support. If you’re American then you recieve a grudging free pass on this as it seems to be an evolutionary trait caused by generations of watching Jerry Springer, which you're all now powerless to resist. The rest of you keep it zipped, okay?
3. Thou shalt not use sugar-coated chocolates as rudimentary weapons of war
A year ago I was forced to sit through a public performance of Spider-Man 3 (which was unpleasant enough to begin with) only to be struck squarely in the head by some kind of heat-seeking M&M. All I can say is down with this sort of thing! Perhaps I’m still scarred by an incident at the Harrow Granada in the late 80s when some muscled gorilla called Len came up and accused the 11-year-old me of doing something similar. I hadn’t, but that didn’t stop him from using my head as a knuckle warmer. The fact that his girlfriend later dragged him over to apologise did not make me feel a great deal better.
4. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's cupholder
Your bag of Minstrels does not outrank mine and you will not use the cupholders on both sides of your seat no matter how many snack food items you’re juggling. If you go both ways then some poor bugger is going to end up with a beverage perched precariously on his lap and that’s just an accident waiting to happen. Cup goes in holder, sweets go in lap, it’s the natural order of things and woe betide any who seek to challenge it.
5. Thou shalt not skulk around the back of the screen wearing night vision goggles
Are you in Splinter Cell? No? Then what on Earth are you doing? You look like a tit. Yes, I’m aware that the threat of movie piracy hangs above society like a headsman’s axe and if Harry Potter 7 ends up on the Internet before it's released in the cinema than the whole of reality will implode on itself, but do we really need the bloody SAS glaring at us throughout the feature? What are they going to do if they catch someone anyway? Drag them outside and put two in the back of their head? I’ve got a word for you, it’s called OVERKILL.
6. Thou shalt not use the lavatory whilst the feature is in progress
No, I don’t care if you’ve got a weak bladder, a nervous stomach or you’re on bloody dialysis, there is no excuse for getting up in the middle of the film and thereby forcing your entire row to do the same while you shuffle off to the loo. Just sit there, hold it in and next time don’t drink that four gallon bucket of Coke you indulgent fool.
7. Thou shalt not accept calls from thine drug dealer during the film
Admittedly this one’s a tad specific but it’s nevertheless something I witnessed during a Sunday matinee screening of Fallen (don’t ask) in 1998. Glossing over the imprudence of such an act given that the whole of special branch could have been downing popcorn in the back row, it’s also extremely annoying! That goes for any kind of phone conversation. If it rings you grab frantically at the offending pocket and fumble apologetically until you manage switch the thing off then sit really still for the next minute while hoping no one is staring at you. You do NOT even THINK about answering the accursed thing and ‘catching up’.
8. Thou shalt not purchase individually wrapped sweets on pain of torture
Anything that rustles is enough to provoke a sound beating but to intentionally purchase confectionary that requires crunching, crackling paper before every single mouthful is tantamount to a war crime. Do it at your peril and I’ll see you in The Hague.
9. Thou shalt not talk amongst thyselves no matter how boring thou findest the movie
Just don’t, okay? If you’re not enjoying it then just leave – quietly. I once sat behind two people who nattered all the way through Schindler’s List. It’s about genocide for god’s sake, have some bloody respect. If I told Ian Freer you’d talked through one of Steven’s movies he’d have branded something I can't print on this website across both your bloody foreheads.Also, while we're on the subject of noise, I'd like to add another sub-clause: though shalt not bray like a donkey. f it’s a comedy then by all means feel free to laugh – it’s actually encouraged. Do not, though, howl like some kind of lovesick baboon, thus eclipsing all other sound that’s not currently broadcasting above 20 decibels. This is especially infuriating when what you’re laughing at isn’t actually supposed to be funny, or at least not funny enough to warrant Fanta dribbling from your nostrils.
10. Thou shalt not sit thyself next to or in front of me if the cinema is half empty
This is absolutely non-negotiable. I am not your mother and thus will at no point hold your hand during the movie if you get scared. Bearing this in mind you will not attempt to sit next to me, a complete stranger, when there are plenty of non-adjacent seats elsewhere. You will instead adhere to a minimum three seat buffer around my person at all times unless the cinema is sufficiently crowded that this proves impossible. Likewise you will not place your presumably non-translucent self directly between me and the screen unless all seats outside the direct field of my vision are currently occupied. Should you neglect to follow this directive then I reserve the right to place hard metal objects in any space around me that I see fit, regardless of whether said space is occupied by a part of your anatomy.
I'm sure there are more but it's traditional to stop at ten so I'll leave any further additions up to you. Go forth and preach the gospel! Let us spread the word among the heathens and turn the multiplexes back into the hallowed cathedrals of entertainment they were meant to be. And yes, feel free to burn any heretics who seek to defy you. Amen.