Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

I am a film fanatic so, as you can imagine, I go to the movies a lot. I like them all–action, indie, comedy, and even foreign art films with barely comprehensible storylines and subtitles so small I have to sit in the third row to have even the smallest chance of understanding the plot. I’ll even cop to enjoying a light-hearted romantic comedy, musical or, dare I say it, chick flick. What I do not like is hearing what other people think of the movie I am watching while I’m watching it. My all time number one pet peeve, and I’ll admit to having quite a few, is people talking at the movie theatre.

Ever since Blockbuster came on the scene, every yahoo and his mother thinks that he (or she) is a movie critic. These insensitive moviegoers insist on calling the action for everyone around them to hear. Or worse, they repeat jokes they heard moments ago because apparently they think their delivery is funnier than Will Ferrell’s. Perhaps the most egregious incident occurred during a matinee of “Happy Feet” when a cell phone began to ring during a particularly touching dance sequence. Once would expect the embarrassed party to quickly turn it off and sink in their seat but instead, the man answered his phone and began to have an actual conversation! I was so stunned I couldn’t even react but fortunately a caffeine-fueled nanny was there to put him in his place.

It’s not like I don’t take precautions; I have a whole action plan for avoiding movie talkers. To begin with, I arrive during previews to scout my talk free zone. Arriving earlier is pointless as the mere act of taking a seat practically guarantees attracting a loud mouth. Its import to avoid the middle section altogether and go for the sides, preferably an aisle to allow for maximum maneuverability in the event a quick seat change is required. Equally important is the choice of movie companion. Most of my friends and my entire family know of my peeve so they know that talking is out of the question. I only run into trouble when going to the movies with a “new” person so I carefully prescreen them because he only thing worse than sitting next to a talker is sitting next to a talker you know because not only is it annoying but it severely limits ones ability to shush strangers. You lose all credibility.

Sometimes all of my precautions fail to shield me and I am forced into action by a fellow movie patron who thinks he or she is sitting at home watching a DVD and that someone actually cares about what they have to say. When accosted by a distracting voice, I first employ the turn and glare method, attempting to silently but sternly warn the offender that they are on notice. If that doesn’t work, I move to the “shusssh!” If they persist, I then move to the somewhat annoying, but highly effective, verbal warning. I turn to the person in question and in a normal to loud tone of voice say “Can you please stop talking.” This public shaming usually does the trick but I admit to having had to resort to telling the authorities to intervene. Unfortunately the authority is usually a sixteen-year-old kid and usually causes more of a commotion than it’s worth. I am ashamed to admit it but I have, on three occasions, also tossed popcorn at the back of a talker’s head. I don’t recommend you try this as it usually results in threats and name-calling but if you do, the Caramel Popcorn Filled Bag from Rush Imprint sure comes in handy. It’s filled to the brim with delicious caramel coated popcorn, which is much better for eating than for throwing, and comes packaged in a clear or opaque bag with plenty of room for a company logo or important message. I once bought two hundred of them with the message “Shut up and eat!” to pass out at my local multiplex. It was quite effective but the theatre didn’t appreciate me handing out free snacks.

Well, I’m off to catch the 5pm showing of “Blades of Glory.” Remember, “The audience is listening…so shut up and watch the movie!”