where the writers are
Paying for Punishment
Passive cinemaddicts

Recently, I went to see the just-released movie Flame and Citron, about heroes in the WWII Danish Resistance.  It's a fine and troubling movie, which you should see.  But this blog is about another aspect of going out to see an actual film in an actual theatre: the pre-show commercials. I know I should be blogging about global warming, endangered species, or the sad state of politicial misleadership, but really this is more important.

Why, I wondered, do we sit still at a movie theatre and allow ourselves to be subjected to a series of loud, aggressive promos for things we have no interest in? We have paid to be there. This recalls a classic Monty Python skit about a business which, among other services, offers insults and being hit-on-the-head lessons,  if you pay first. If I hunger for a conversation between two tongues and an eyeball about Coke Zero, I can always visit Youtube. 

If I want to be subjected to barrages of several commercials, in a row I'll watch TV.  I don't watch much TV anymore.  Doesn't that tell you something?

It enrages  me that , when I have played  my part of the bargain -- laid out an exorbitant amount of cash for a seat in a theatre, not illegally downloaded the movie or waited for the DVD release -- I am expected to quietly watch several minutes of commercials which insult both my intelligence and my taste.  Don't theatres make enough profit with the 600% mark-up on drinks and popcorn?

Genuine movie-goers -- now a dying breed, except when the new Harry Potter or Miley Cyrus vehicle is released  -- need not be so passive.  We should be ripping up our none-too-clean, popcorn-scented seats and hurling them at the screen until the ads are yanked.  I remember an apocryphal story that somewhere, back in the heady 60's when the movie 2001 first hit theatres, in one place (I'd like to think San Francisco) a patron stood up when the black obelisk appeared, yelled "I see God" and ran right through the screen, leaving a human-shaped hole in it for the rest of the screening. Now that's re3ally getting into a movie.

We North Americans are otherwise too passive in our movie-attending behaviour.  In the Middle East, folks hoot and whistle at actors and scenes, and even throw pop bottles at villains.  I think we could learn a thing or two from such enlightened audiences.  It's time to get out of our seedy plush seats and take back the time we have paid for.