Hearne: Are ‘Geeks’ and ‘Snobs’ Taking Over the World?

Nothing like a little hyperbole in the headline to get things rolling, right?

That said, let’s move on to the issue raised by Jack Poessiger and the head of Alamo Drafthouse about texting in movie theaters. Because while I agree with the Gentle German that in the most extreme cases he likes to cite texting can be rude. However two wrongs don’t make a right, right?

And kicking people out of movies without refunding their money because they looked at their cellphone is wrong.

First let’s have some fun.

Having gone to many advance screenings I can tell you that critics (mostly movie geeks, let’s be honest) are often the worst when it comes to exhibiting good movie etiquette. I hate attending screenings specifically for the "media" because those guys – less so Jack but certainly Bob Butler and others – have little to no compunction about wisecracking and making comments during a movie.

Ever see an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000?

Even Jumping Jack Flash himself recently bemoaned having to sit next to another "critic" recently – a gentleman who has been known to bring lighted writing pens into screenings, noisily stuff his face with popcorn and every other imaginable foodstuff while cackling like a hen (loudly) at the most mundane, inside baseball movie jokes.

It literally ruined Jack’s moviegoing experience at one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.

Where I ask is the Alamo Drafthouse covenant governing that bit of bad behavior?

Now let me cite the examples of texting I’m familiar with and compare them to the one Jack cited yesterday.

Most people who know me know that technically I’m always working. Wherever I am, whatever I see, learn, hear or am told is a potential story. Nothing is off-the-record unless pre-agreed to.

I also have children, many irons in the fire, real estate and business deals cooking from time to time and responsibilities to others to receive return phone calls or get calls from people that are difficult to reach for stories I am writing on deadline. In other words, I don’t have the luxury I once did to disappear for two or three hours at a time and not keep abreast of anything and everything else going on in my life.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard.

Parents with young children absolutely have to check their phones for incoming calls or texts lest there be an emergency of some sort. People with sick family members. Business people who might await a critical call. A tragic, unexpected event. You name it.

The world that Jack – and indeed I – grew up in seldom allowed for such notices or interruptions. You found out when you got home after the movie that your house had burned down, your brother had died, etc. That’s the way things once were.

But times have changed, for better and for worse.

A Lawrence builder with whom I was negotiating on a house was on the island of St. Martin on a nude beach with his wife when I texted him an offer three weeks back.

"I have learned no one, and I mean no one, can escape gravity," he texted back sarcastically before hitting me with a counter offer.

We live in a different world today.

Here’s how my kids and I handle texting at movies. We dim our phone screens to begin with. My kids dim theirs so low I can’t even make them out. Then we tuck them into our laps, facing away from anyone halfway nearby, cup our hands over them and steal a glimpse.

If the incoming message is important, we’ll leave the auditorium and go deal with it. If there’s nobody nearby, I may tap out a short reply. Trust me, the process is seemless.

Now here’s Jack’s take on why texting bothers him.

He’s sitting in a darkened theater concentrating on a movie when lo and behold, someone nearby or even four or five rows in front of him (but well within his vision) raises a smartphone to eye level on full bright – where he and everybody else can see – it and reads and / or answers a text.

Now Jack goes to a lot more movies than me, so I believe him. But I’ve never seen anything that overt. The people I’ve seen text hold them low where they can look down on them and type something back if need be.

Come to think of it, I’ve never seen anybody hold their phone up in front of their face at eye level and type anywhere. Ever try it? Sounds like something Mr. Magoo maybe would do.

The bottom line is people in this country are pretty much universally armed with cellphones and are responsible in many ways to keep in touch with the people and circumstances in their lives. There certainly are polite ways to do things and there are impolite ways.

My point being there’s a middle ground.

So if Alamo roars into town using a machete rather than a scalpel – especially in a theater like the AMC Mainstreet which is struggling for business in less densely populated part of town – the company may find its teet in the same financial wringer AMC now does. In other words, choking down red ink while attempting to cater to local critic Bob Buter‘s so-called "snobs."

There’s a lot more real people in this town than movie snobs, I suspect, although I could be wrong.

I’ll leave you with this recent story on the subject from the Los Angeles Times.

"Americans have been drifting away from the multiplex for about a decade, a trend that Hollywood executives blame in part on the quality of the experience inside the theater. Sure, cinemas with giant screens offer an unsurpassed level of immersion. But when you’re watching a movie at home, you don’t have to worry about pivotal scenes being ruined by chattering and clattering by rude strangers. Just rude family members.

"Evidently, some industry insiders think the solution to the problem of dwindling ticket sales is to let moviegoers be more distracted — and distracting. Specifically, they have mulled allowing some cellphone use — presumably texting, not talking — to provide a more appealing environment for teens and young adults."

Back to you, Jack.

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47 Responses to Hearne: Are ‘Geeks’ and ‘Snobs’ Taking Over the World?

  1. smartman says:

    Stupid is as stupid does
    If someone is dying, having a baby, or out on a date and may need to get in touch with you, DON’T GO TO A FUCKING MOVIE!

    Set your phone on VIBRATE and LEAVE THE AUDITORIUM! Dimming thie screen and setting it on your lap is BULLSHIT and just typical I’M A PRIVILEGED DOUCHEBAG-ETTE BEHAVIOR.

    Texting, talking, farting, belching are all unacceptable behavior at the movies, which is why I now take by 18″ blow dart gun with me. So next time you or your kids feel a sharp stinging pain in your neck maybe you’ll get the MESSAGE.

  2. the dude says:

    Don’t go to the theater, especially the alamo if you plan on exhibiting this type of behavior. Stay at home and rent a redbox flick.

  3. jack p. says:

    Fair enough Hearne…..
    …and I heard recently where an eastern theater chain—not operating in K.C.—was considering devoting the back two or three rows for texters. This way they wouldn’t be bothering anyone. Interesting idea, wouldn’t you say?
    But as far as I’m concerned, the use of cell phones in venues such as movie theatres, during church services, during live theater performances, during funeral services, during class in school or while attending a concert or are out of line and in very poor taste.
    And that’s the way it is–Wednesday, June 6th in the year of our Lord, 2012.

  4. harley says:

    what theatres are you people going to?
    I never have had a problem with cellphones…texting…talking loud… lights….etc.
    The best theatres to go to arre the cinemark over off johnson drive in merriam.
    Noone ever goes there so you don’t have to put up with any problems
    caused by phones because noones in the theatre except us and
    usually some old people.
    If you go to town center or olathe expect problems…the kids there aren
    t there to see a movie…its a social thing.
    I still like the drive ins…best time …no problems…..light up a
    doobie…pull the windows up…breathe in and you;ll spend $200
    at the concession stand !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. harley says:

    and speaking of nudists…
    just noticed the photo of the nude couple…getting a little risque arent you hearne?
    I’ve found in my adventures to numerous nude beaches/resorts in greece/orient/austin/
    cancun/puerto moreles/dom. repbulic/ that usually the people who shouldnt be
    running around naked are usually the ones who are? The best one was little beach
    in hawaii….omg!!!!!

  6. Markus Aurelius says:

    smartman gets the square
    He nailed it.

    Hearne, you may need to reexamine your own level of self-importance before you declare that you absolutely, postitively cannot be unavailable for others for 90-120 minute spans of time. Seriously, put the stinkin’ phone on vibrate and leave the theater if you can’t bear the thought of waiting until after the movie is over to check it.

    By and large, too many guys pretend they’re too important and use their smartphone as a modern-day equivalent to the Corvette in the 80’s. “Look how cool and important I am!” “No, you look like a douche and don’t know it….” …..just like the dude in the yellow ’88 vette at the stoplight.

  7. harley says:

    i left my cell phone at home while I went to
    7-11…its was really nice!

  8. PB says:

    Now This
    Is how I think they should be handled…


  9. tipp says:

    harley you
    have to be the biggest douche bag!

  10. harley says:

    tipp….you have to
    be the biggest piece of shit not to take comments with a grain of salt. do you really think this is
    a serious site…come on tipp…you gotta be one of the old fart on here….no sxense of humor.
    get over it dog breath….this site is for fun and entertainment..nothing more.
    If you thought this site was fully for intellectual comments you’re one big douche bag yourself.
    smile! lol
    the discusson is about cell phones and movies which i’m sure you’ll agree is earth shattering
    and so very importnat in our lives…GFY.

  11. tipp says:

    a sxense of humor. your not funny. im 3 years older than you douche bag

  12. harley says:

    you’re not 3 years older than me
    douchebag…you’re probably 10 years older and you definitely look at least 15 years older than me. Get off the
    couch and do something.

  13. REAL harley says:

    older then dirt and….. u r an even….. bigger dosebag… u have…. doggie breaf……u could not hold….. mine or …….
    glaze’s jock strap……

  14. harley says:

    was wondering where real harley was
    nice. very nice. Cool. Very creative.

  15. Markus Aurelius says:

    douchebag is definitely an underutilized aspersion
    Even better when its used in it’s various other forms — “He was really involved in some douchebaggery last night” — “That was kind of a douchebaggy way to handle it don’t you think?” It could be the f-bomb of the new millenium and you can even say it on primetime television!

  16. Markus Aurelius says:

    errr “its”, not “it’s”……sheesh, still no edit feature..
    C’mon Hearne, let’s bring this blog up to 2006 standards at least…..

  17. Hearne says:

    Self importance? Nah…
    I understand some of your guy’s complaints, but I think you’re ignoring the realities of today. The technology of cellphones is her and here to stay. And people – everyday average people not egomaniacs – are going to take advantage of that technology just as they do other advanced forms of communication.

    And demonizing the entire checking of calls and texts based on citing the most extreme examples of abuse or misuse is clearly bogus. Yeah, I don’t want to sit next to a pack of teens texting and making calls willy niilly either. But the truth lies somewhere in between.

    There are responsible, adult, non disruptive ways to text or check calls and there are over the top ridiculous ways.

    I suggest some of you give it some further thought. The movie exhibitors clearly are.

  18. hikatie says:

    There are lots of well-entrenched technologies that people take advantage of. Not all of them are permitted in a movie theater. Your logic is weak.

  19. Super Dave says:

    Hearne you and many are losing touch with life as well as reality. I have people that work for me who think just because they have a cell phone means they are entitled to answer the damn thing and talk on it at any time while they are at work. One told me while back

  20. Hearne says:

    Everybody’s entitled to their opinion but the fact is…
    Technology connects people and that’s a 24/7 reality in most halfway younger people’s lives. People who are the bread and butter of the movie biz. The people Hollywood and the theaters want and need to attract.

    And for better or for worse, those people want to be connected, need to be connected. Sure they take time outs, but frankly, attending a movie is hardly something sacred. And if peeking into a mother’s purse to make sure something awful didn’t happen to her kids when the sitter calls is some kind of cardinal sin, I think somebody needs to rethink their priorities.

    I was talking to a fellow former Star columnist yesterday who was joking about one of our editors who – unbeknownst to me – started wearing Patchouli oil. I can’t smell so I never noticed. But it drove everybody in the FYI section crazy because they all h-a-t-e-d it. Naturally they never said anything. Maybe that dude shouldn’t be allowed in movie theaters either.

    The fact that movie theaters recognize cellphones are a way of life today and that they are studying ways of allowing them speaks volumes.

    Some of you land line types may not like that, but done discreetly it’s far more liveable that having to endure that noisy, insufferable critic Jack got stuck sitting next to at…

  21. balbonis moleskine says:

    It seems like the heavy handed “no talking no texting” rules seem to be a thinly veiled attempt to keep out blacks and teenagers. I doubt they are going to toss you for asking your date if she wants popcorn or going outside to check a text.

    It seems a little hipster and elitist but then again I hate phones in movies and black people in movies are fucking insufferable.

    Thanks a lot Harley for letting the cat out of the bag that Merriam cinemark is best in the city. I drive 35 minutes on the beltway to go there!

  22. Merle Tagladucci says:

    My God, how did people ever manage to sit through a movie 15 years ago without being “connected” to everyone they know by a cell phone?

  23. harley says:

    1. sorry balboni…cinemark is great. Great theatre with almost no crowds…walk up and buy a ticket…and i love to
    sit in the 10th row center to watch movies. Usually need a neck massage after it but its incredible experience.

    . BREAKING NEWS: 1 IN 3 PEOPLE BORED WITH FACEBOOK. i was bored with it months ago. Its a waste of
    time. I really don’t have to tell people what I’m doing and I really don’t care what other people are doing.
    Posting endless photos of themselves (I have 1 “freind” who posts at least 5 pics a day of themselves…i want
    to defriend them…but don’t want to make them mad). Zuckerbergman took his billions and walked…but the
    whole thing was a con game and people got ripped off. Seems the women are addicted to it. what a waste of
    time and energy to try to see what lives others have. And i hate it when one woman gets on and says
    she’s cooking a roast and 6 other women get on and say things like
    “mmmm” “can i come over” “sound delicious”…”I love fresh roast”…”we’re eating chef boy ardi”..and they’re
    freaking serious about those comments. My head wants to blow up. Who care what someone is cooking
    For one day I went around without my cell when i left the house. It was relly strange at first cause I was always
    thinking i lost my cell phone or rfreaking out if i didn’t get calls. But i survived and it was interesting at the
    end of the day returning biz calls.
    The world has changed and obviously for the better. Guys like glaze and tiger can be in constant contact with
    their hotties. People 18-34 can be in contact with each other and never have to speak in person to a single
    human being ever. Its here…it’s staying and its going to take over more of our life as technology gets
    even more advance.

  24. Hearne says:

    How did we make it thru the movies w/o cellphones 15 years ago? The same way we did without cellphones altogether 25 years ago. And commercial airline travel 100 years ago. And the light bulb before that.

    The point being that we no longer live in those times, we live in today. And while some older people may not quite get it, it is what it is.

  25. Cliffy says:

    Wow. Hearne can’t smell. Now we know why he tolerates Glazer.

  26. Skeptic says:

    The Death of Common Courtesy
    The theaters show a PSA telling people to turn off cell phones and to refrain from talking. That means everyone, even you self-important types. It doesn’t mean “only if you want to”. Turn the goddamned thing off.

  27. Super Dave says:

    Comment of the Week Award
    Goes to Cliffy for smelling out the story behind that relationship.

  28. the dude says:

    Can’t smell like Dewey
    Cox, walk hard Hearne, walk hard.

  29. paulwilsonkc says:

    I have (4) 3rd row center season tickets at The Kauffman
    …my wife was there with her girlfriends to see Great American Masters. She had a kid emergency while she was there and with her phone on silent, took 2, count um 2 texts from her oldest daughter, with the phone on her seat between her and a GF. Not on her lap. not help up in full view, on her SEAT next to her. The blue hair next to her nearly assualted her, waited for the intermission then verbally went after her!! People take it far MORE serious at a live performance than the movies!

    I HATE talking, texting and cell phones at the movies. I’m not a huge movie goer but when I do go I dont want to put up with that from adults, kids, talking African Americans or really, much of anything else! I want to Long Island and to be left alone!

  30. Merle Tagladucci says:

    You’re comparing the convenience of airline travel with dis-respecting fellow movie-goers? How are those two even related? How does flying on a plane correlate to you whipping out your phone in a dark movie theater? We didn’t have Doppler Radar 30 years ago either, can we work that into your argument too?

    The funniest thing you’ve said so far is your “I’m always working” comment. If by “always working” you mean researching and gathering leads for the little stories you put on this site – besides coming off like a poor man’s Ron Burgundy – you’re perfectly illustrating the self-absorbed mindset of someone who puts their own interests above showing respect for the rest of us in the theater.

    If you covered breaking news or were actually out tracking important stories, you would certainly have a case for your argument. But you don’t cover breaking news. Russ Ptacek you are not. You need to throw stuff up on this site as often as possible to keep ad revenue flowing. In the end, what you’re really saying is, “F— all you movie goers. I don’t care if my phone is disrespectful to you and I don’t care if I’m compromising your ability to enjoy this movie you paid $12 to see with your wife and kids. I need to make money and my interests are more important than yours.”

  31. Orphan of the Road says:

    Everything stops for tea

    If you can’t find two-hours for a movie, you’re probably going to end up doing the waltzing matilda. Offering a movie experience without the what-about-me crowd is probably a nice niche. But location is everything and the target client isn’t a P&L goer.

    Wilson, this in Chelle’s song book?

    Now I know just why Franz Schubert
    Didn’t finish his unfinished symphony
    He might have written more but the clock struck four
    And everything stops for tea

  32. paulwilsonkc says:

    Orphan, it can be if you want it to be!
    Taking requests from NOW till NOON!! The phone lines are open! Call now, call often.

  33. harley says:

    and wilson thought the crowd at rockfest
    was bad. At least they don’t illegally assault you over a text. Heck that old lady at kauffman
    should have been told that it was a child emergency. WTF is going on when a woman
    can’t handle an emergency text from her kids. People have gone overboard with shit tody.
    Its so fucking stupid. If a mom has an emergency and has to take a call or a text
    who the fuck is stupid enough…crass enough to fault them.
    People need to calm down over this shit. Who gives a fuck if a cell phone goes off
    in a theatre by accident…or if its an amergency….people get the fuck over it…its
    not the end of the world.
    as far as texts…they last what half a second…who gives a flying fuck. Life goes on.
    shit happens….
    I would have told grandma the circumstances then moved on. If she mouth off after that
    just walk away. Old people are so fucked up sometimes.

  34. paulwilsonkc says:

    I agree,Orphan. I was talking to Hearne about this Tuesday
    Chelle has sung at the Marquee several times, so we’ve been “in da house”. Been there other times, for music, will go again.

    We go down there to eat. A client of mine is the CFO of Cossentinos, he goes down to their store on date nights with his wife! We are going to do the same soon; its the closest thing we have to what she misses about Belgium, a Euro style gorcery!.

    We’ve gone to see music at LIVE, she and the keyboard player from The Outfield are mutal fans. Point being, out of all we’ve done, NEVER would I think about going there JUST to catch a movie! Its just not on the radar for me, Doppler or not.

  35. Orphan of the Road says:

    Chelle’s Blues
    Wilson, she has to do the whole monologue from that YouTube. But I think she can pull it off ala Bette.

    Most of the multiplexes, if you ban the cell phones you will still hear the movie next door.

  36. balbonis moleskine says:

    perhaps this makes me a hipster but my favorite theater downtown is the Screenland. With the Alamo drafthouse being essentially the same business model they will probably get pushed out of business.

  37. paulwilsonkc says:

    Balogomy, Screenland is GREAT; doenst make you a HIPSTER
    it just shows good taste!

  38. harley says:

    talent…you wanna see some real talent
    come see me saturday at my audition for XFACTOR. I’ll be playing either my banjo or the piano.
    will be singing elton johns “mona lisa and mad hatters”…should be entertaining.
    Go to #harley for twitter updates. My followers/disciples and fans will be at sprint center and
    i think there are still free tix to be in the audience.

  39. REAl harley says:

    fake harley……..
    u r incorrect……. I will be playing either……. bonaphone, skin flute or……… rusty trombone…. at x…….
    factor tryouts….. quit lying….. about my true……… “special” talent…………


  40. harley says:

    skeptic is right
    its about common courtesy. In a theatre you don’t talk…you don’t use cell phones…what happened
    to common courtesy. The world has changed. No doubt.
    So if the theatre you go to has people who are rude don’t go there. I’m sure someone will
    come up with a cell-free theatre for people.
    and again…if its an emergency we’ve got to understand…or go to the drive ins…they’re
    a blast.
    Someone mentioned the old leawood drive in…i remember going there…how time flies!!!!!

  41. Hearne says:

    The Screenland is already hanging by a thread….
    Alamo or no Alamo. And while Alamo does some artsy stuff, it largely plays mainstream movies that appear to the Text Generation.

    There’s no comparison to air travel and cell phones, true. Not in the literal sense.

    But there’s a HUGE comparison in the sense that both play an integral role in modern day life. As do computers which are not like airplanes either. Cling to the past if you wish but the future waits for no one.

  42. harley says:

    met the owners of screenland
    really cool/neat people. Never been there but the reviews have been great. I hope they make it.
    I ‘m not that much into the artsy films…but there are lots of people who are into that…

  43. the dude says:

    the last time i tried
    to take my desktop computer to the theater it did not turn out so well.

  44. harley says:

    don’t laugh
    dude…they say theres a 3 inch ipad coming. When they get that size i’ll buy one. A friend of mine has
    problems with his apple computer and HAD TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT TO GET INTO THE APPLE
    STORE TO HAVE THEM LOOK AT IT…are they that hot? Should have listened to my cousin and
    bought the stock 2 years ago!!!!!!!!

  45. swarthy man with punched face says:

    they have a smaller IPAD, it is called an Iphone you tard.

    Is this the same “cousin” that works at the bail bonds place?

  46. tipp says:

    ya thats the douche
    bag that has a cousin bail bonds man. his name is harley douche bag

  47. harley says:

    come on…
    at 10pm on a friday night all you’ve got on your mind is me ….you got a serious problem.
    you really need to find something better to do on a great friday night. Very sad that someone of
    your stature is on kcc on friday and saturdya night with nothing better to do.

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