Pop Culture

Don’t Forget to Clean Up Your Trash at Avengers: Endgame

Nebula and War Machine. seen here not surrounded by trash because they are adults
Nebula and War Machine. seen here not surrounded by trash because they are adults Screengrab from Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame is slated to be the largest cinematic event ever. The grand finale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that started with Iron Man in 2008 might possibly be the first billion-dollar worldwide opening in movie history. Nothing has ever been like this before, and this weekend will be a singular movie-going experience.

Which is why I want you all to remember to clean up your goddamn popcorn bags and Sour Patch Kids!

I worked in movie theaters for about four years as everything from usher to projectionist to chief of staff at the Landmark River Oaks. The eternal war between cleaning crews and patrons who think that their ticket relieves them of all social obligation is one that drives me bananas. You can read dozens of examples on NotAlwaysRight.com. A pretty significant portion of the population seem to think that picking up their trash is something that the price of a large soda absolves them of. I’ve had more than one patron tell me, “I left it there to give you something to do,” as if the No. 1 worry in a minimum wage worker’s life was boredom that only picking half-melted M&Ms out of a seat cushion can alleviate.

I’m not talking about spills. That happens, and you trying to clean that up in the middle of the movie is just going to ruin the experience for others. Ushers are prepared for that, though if you warn them on the way out it does help a lot. I worked at River Oaks when they were the only place showing Blair Witch Project. A sold out theater full of people who had never seen shaky cam footage before resulted in a lot of vomit. That’s gross, but we understood that it was extra work for an extra experience.

No, I mean the casually left behind bags and cups and boxes. There is just no excuse for that. There is ample time when the lights come up during the credits to quietly pick up your garbage and be ready to dump it as you leave.

A lot of you will have kids along. Fantastic! I love sharing movies with my daughter. What will you be teaching them though? Will it be that wage workers are your momentary slaves or that they are people who deserve to have dignity and respect in their labor? That’s what leaving your junk lying around in the aisles says, and frankly it’s kind of proving Thanos right about how wasteful and uncaring we are.

There will be more people in the theaters this weekend than you have likely ever seen before. Millions of them all shoved into dark spaces wanting food and needing to go to the bathroom. Keeping things moving efficiently and professionally will be a monumental task. You may only see the ushers sweeping up as you leave the theater, but they are out there tending to any number of random tasks that you take for granted.

You’re supposed to take them for granted. The goal of the cinema is to break down the barrier between real and make-believe, and nearly every person I have ever met in the industry honestly believes in that goal to some degree. They want you to have a seamless experience where everything is perfect, especially for something like Endgame that means so much to so many.

They’ll be breaking their backs to make that happen. One of the easiest ways to help the millions of others have a good time is taking the slack of the theater employees by hauling your own trash out when you’re done. You should always do it, but as fans produce literal tons of garbage this weekend it will be a lot for employees to keep up with.

Look, this is a superhero movie. What makes a superhero, power or the willingness to put others before yourself? I know times are rough and the temptation to play Caesar over peons to earn back a sense of control in your life is there, but you really can make the world a slightly better place just by making your own mess disappear. It’s the right move.

Oh, and one last thing. I know it’s a running gag right now about people wearing diapers so they don’t have to get up during the film. If you do that and leave your diaper, or you piss in your cup, or otherwise engage in any kind of bathroom functions outside of said-bathroom, then you’re a walking social infection. Nobody should have to touch your urine because you don’t feel like piecing together two minutes of footage from context clues. Be a freakin’ grown-up about all of this, please?

Enjoy your show.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner