Film and TV

It's Time We Start Allowing Cell Phone Use in Movie Theaters

On Monday, a grown man in Canada picked up his cell phone and dialed 911 to complain that another grown man was using his cell phone in a movie theater. While most folks agree that this was a grand overreaction - 911 is for serious things, even in Canada - they also understand his frustration: cell phone use in movie theaters is out of hand.

Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere with an Alamo Drafthouse or a similar theater with a strong anti-cell phone stance, there's a good chance at some point during your movie viewing experience you'll notice the soft glow of a screen being checked.

As much as it sucks and as annoying as it is, rather than fight the good fight it's time for true lovers of cinema to start thinking about how to change the system rather than fight it. Cell phones are too omnipresent in our culture to pretend the masses can be changed.

It's time to give the masses what they want: approved cell phone use in movie theaters.

There are few objects in modern society that cause as much debate as the cell phone. We argue about using them in our cars, at restaurants, and during sexual intercourse. And while their use in the previous examples are respectively unsafe, awkward, and just plain weird, it feels like the most passionate fight against them has been in our movie theaters.

However, try as they might, the forces are against movie lovers in this battle; they're the only ones who don't want cell phones in theaters. Everyone else seems to think it's a really good idea.

A lot of theater owners love the idea. As they worry about how to get more people to actually spend money on going to the movies, allowing free use of cell phones is an idea that's been floated about as way to increase business. Most people want to be able to use their phones during a movie, and most theater owners don't want to deal with the hassle of tossing patrons out of their theater, no matter what they ad they run before the movie states.

Studios think it's a pretty good idea too. They might make a big stink about piracy, but they know just as well as the people who pirate movies that it's not some kid with an iPhone sneaking in to the multiplex that's getting their films on to the Internet; theatrical film piracy happens overseas, Americans just get to benefit off of other people doing the uploading. In fact, Disney is going the complete opposite direction and encouraging people to bring their iPad to the theater so they can download an app that will help them sing-along during The Little Mermaid.

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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia