Diatribe: Going to the Movies Used to Be a Treat.
My first job, when I was sixteen years old, was at a movie theater. I had to lie about my age to get hired because they showed movies that were rated “R”. I was paid $1.80 per hour and I loved it! I started as an usher sweeping spilled popcorn from the auditoriums after each movie and arranging the velvet ropes for crowd control. Tickets for shows in the daytime were $1.25 and full-price tickets for evenings and weekends cost $3.75. I advanced from usher, to candy counter, to cashier and, eventually, assistant manager. It was the best job ever … and I got to see all the movies for free.
Boy, how times have changed. Last weekend, we went to see “Thor”. It was opening night and I expected a crowd so I bought tickets in advance on Fandango. We arrived early and selected seats that we thought would give us the best view and offer the best sound.
And then we waited. We waited and watched “commercials”. They don’t call them commercials but that’s exactly what they are. The theater began to fill as many people arrived at the last-minute. Just before the lights went down, there was an announcement from the front of the auditorium asking the crowd to stand up and move to their right to fill in all the empty seats so that everyone that had bought a ticket could sit down.
After paying almost fifteen dollars to watch commercials, I wasn’t about to get up and move so that somebody that was late could have my good seat! Who thinks they can arrive at the last-minute on opening night and sit anywhere they want? The auditorium got dark and then the “trailers” began. They lasted about twenty minutes and included a video about why one shouldn’t talk during the movie or use their cell phones. (Note: Civilized adults should not need such a reminder.) By the time the movie actually started I had been sitting in a crowded noisy theater for almost an hour.
Going to the movies used to be a treat. People would whisper as they waited for the movie to begin and would never put their feet on the back of the seat in front of them. Audiences were considerate and respectful of the other people in the theater. Today it seems that everyone acts just as they would if they were in their own homes, watching the movie on their own television, where they don’t have to be courteous to strangers.
It’s not worth it. We spent so much money that night that we could have bought two copies of the DVD, watched them over and over, shared them with friends, and had cash left over for popcorn. And I didn’t even enjoy the movie.