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The Wittertainment Code of Conduct – Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s quest to bring class back to the cinematic experience

January 28, 2011

A few weeks ago, the Missus and I ambled over to a semi-local arthouse theatre, aiming to catch the triumphant spirit of Made in Dagenham. The story of women on the machinist line, Made in Dagenham drew a wide swath of Anglophiles, feminist sympathizers, and – for some odd reason – old drunks. Like a pair of excited adolescents, we grabbed a pair in the dead middle, about seven rows back – perfect theatre seating, I’ve discovered. Just as the film began, the sounds of Desmond Dekker leapt from the speakers. All was well until the establishing shot faded out, as DD reached the chorus. At that moment, the massive bloke behind me decided to sing along, but only to the one lyric he actually knew. In a voice as loud and deep as James Earl Jones impersonating Diedrich Bader impersonating Barry White, we are knocked forward by “OOOOOHH…THEE IIISRAEL-IIIITES!!!” While the Missus and I looked at one another in quasi-fear, the same beastly gent decides to raid his pockets for the stash of snuck-in food, which consisted of every rustly-wrapped item you can imagine. Like a pair of defeated Scousers watching another Reds defeat (hey, we all have tough years), we slunk back into the depths of the theater, relegated to the crap seats on the side. While the film was a wonderful story about activists that succeeded, it was still a perfect example of why we need a cinematic code of conduct. Thankfully, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo are there for us. (for a full-size version, click here)

After a series of emails, texts and tweets that chronicle the multitude of painful experiences destroying the moviegoing experience, our heroes decided that something had to be done. In the public service announcement to end all public service announcements, Drs. K and M (honorary) offered this wonderful document to the public. In an effort to spread the word, I’ll go through the list, and offer any additional comments that may or may not be germane:

No Eating…

…of anything harder than a soft roll with no filling. No one wants to hear you crunch,

chew or masticate in any way. Nachos cause special offence and are of the devil.

As a former employee of a major chain theater, I’ve completely exhausted my desire to dine on theater-curated foodstuffs.  For the entire summer of 1993, I left work with a titanic bag of popcorn, which would serve as my “dinner” while viewing the late-night baseball games. Our policy toward hot items, such as the notorious “that hot dog remains on the rotator until it sells!” requirement, almost cost us our right to exist as a vendor.  But that’s just a sampling of the other stuff that may or may not’ve occurred (it did): we were contracted with Universal to promote Jurassic Park via plastic dinosaur-emblazoned cups, which allowed the sale of an Extra-Large beverage in a smaller-size cup – how consumer-friendly of us. The damn things sold so quickly that most theaters were left without product by week #2. Our manager had the bright idea that we could capture a larger sale of the market if we still offered the cups, so the clean-up crew was “asked” to save all left-behind dino-cups. Were we also “asked” to wash them for their second life? Even if they were loaded with tobacco-spit? You bet Jurassic.

So, yeah, I think I’ll pass on that hot dog.

No Slurping…

…of drinks. You’ve already drunk a 5 litre flagon of pop, you really don’t need the

melting ice too. You are not six years old.

Way back in the day, I tried to beat the system, sneaking a bottle of Coke into the theater. Of course, my quick-stop at the bathroom resulted in some sprinting gent smashing the b-room door on me as I tried to enter, causing my bottle to fall to the rock-hard floor. Unfortunately, this was the era of thin-glass containers, as the Neal Peart cymbal-crash explosion alerted the staff that a scofflaw was about. I was busted – and now some poor bastard would be forced to mop the lobby floor amidst the evening rush. Two years later, I would become that same poor bastard.

Oh – and Home Alone 2 was total pants.

No Hobbies

This includes knitting, drug dealing, model aeroplane assembly, fighting, having sex

and updating Facebook.

When Simon told Mark that he Tweeted from a film, but he was the only person in the theatre, Mark informed him that “it’s not just that you respect everyone else in the theatre, but that you pay proper respect to the film, too!”

No Mobile Phone Usage

At all. Not even on ‘flight mode’. This isn’t an aeroplane, it’s a cinema. Even if you’re

not yapping, you’re still creating light pollution. Put your thumbs away.

NB: includes BlackBerries, Palm Pilots, iPads – whatever.

During a viewing of a documentary on the coup that toppled Chilean President Salvador Allende, someone left their phone in the cinema during the previous screening. So, of course, they called the damn thing, over and over and over. It must of rang about 488 times, and I was unable to get any other patrons to look fori it and turn it off.

  1. scor21 permalink
    February 19, 2011 5:37 am

    I hate it when couples sit next to you and just talk and talk and talk. its so annoying. Whats your worst experience?

    • T. Stump permalink
      June 3, 2011 5:15 pm

      Sadly, I was once part of a couple where the Other Half thought nothing of rudely shouting her thoughts about a film on a quasi-regular basis. There are few things more embarrassing than
      a) Having to politely, repeatedly ask your girlfriend to not add commentary


      b) Being the recipient of her resulting anger when the film concludes, in full public view of the diners at the nearby restaurant

      On the non-talky tip, my viewing of the Hangover 2 was interrupted by the putrid vomit of a drunken reveler.

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