Most of us already know that it's NOT socially acceptable to talk during a movie. But to those of us who weren't born in a barn, these rude movie-goers are still a constant burden. It's time to fight back, dirty.
With Avatar in theaters, the stakes are simply too high to risk losing a film to some pudgy frat boy film school drop out who is convinced his personal commentary is just as important as the countless hours of work that have gone into the filmmaking process.
The following are a list of rules and responses that I feel, as a society, we need to deem socially acceptable to assimilate into our communal fabric.
6-Inch Voices, Or Group Humiliation
I know I'm coming off rude already. The occasional quiet comment to the person beside you, that's totally fine by me. But If I can hear you from over two seats away, chances are, you need to shut the fuck up (throughout life, possibly, but definitely in the theater). If a person makes loud comments that a single "shhh" doesn't thwart, everyone around them should stand, point and loudly ask them to leave (with liberal use of expletives). It'll be a painful, distracting experience, but chances are, it won't be needed again.
Really, It's OK To Tell People to Shut Up
I know I just made this point, but I want to make it abundantly clear: telling talkers to shut up is OK. You are doing all of the shy, weak and first daters who want to enjoy a movie but not lose out on a potential post-film grope a huge favor. Let's just make an oath, right now, to support one another against the talkers, be they intimidatingly muscley or not. Let's acknowledge a silent brotherhood, poised to attack at the slightest breach of conduct.
If You Pull Out a Cellphone During a Movie, You Relinquish All Rights to It
I don't care if you have it's on vibrate or turned to silent. Any cellphone pulled from a pocket during a movie—most probably a Sidekick—that's glowing in the corner of the entire audience's eye is now communal property. It can and should be yanked from the offender's hand and chucked across the room to break against the nearest hard surface. The offender's head is one such potential surface.
Bathroom Exits, OK, Refills, Not OK
We've all overestimated the endurance of our bladders. And as you grow older, you realize that uncontrollable bodily functions are something we all just need to be adults about. If someone walks out during a pivotal scene because they NEED to go, well, that's alright. But if they take their empty popcorn bucket with them, proceed with skepticism. Do they look like they needed to use the bathroom while they were up? No? Then tripping them on the way back is totally Kosher.
Honor Those Who Watch Credits
In the theater, credits are part of the film. It's your option to watch them, but should you elect not to, do not disturb those around you who enjoy finishing a film by celebrating all those who made it possible. That means, no standing in front of someone seated to finish the credits (a quick, polite pass is OK). And maybe save that thing you NEED to say for the hallway or the parking lot, rather than voice it right as the film fades to black. Offenses in this realm will not elicit punishment, but you may be deemed "tacky."
Oh, But None Of This Applies to Kids Movies on a Tuesday Afternoon
Once again, I'm not an evil or malicious person (by nature). If you're watching some Shrek sequel, especially during a matinee, pretty much anything goes—for children. Adults who are offending any of the above rules in ways not directly resulting from or related to a child's actions are fair game for fair punishment.
And if you have any points or suggestions that I may have missed, please, please, please list them in the comments. Two people can easily drop $40 and and a free evening to see a movie. And the first time you watch something truly special can never be rekindled.
Let's band together and see to it that movie talkers STFU for good.