10.17 The Inbetweeners

This whole thing is going to make me sound old. Mainly because I am getting old and am proud to wear this as a badge of honour, so whatever.

A couple of weekends ago, I went to see a movie, like in the theatre. I don’t think I can ever go and see a movie in a theatre again. I think I’m done with it. I went by myself, which is not a product of me being older and more comfortable alone and therefore fine with doing things on my own. I’ve always done this - it’s easy, try it sometime.

No, it’s people. Really, despite the contrary, I actually quite like people. But sometimes they also want me to hate them. As though they are daring me to hate them. And with a small percentage of the population, they are being successful in their threats. Okay, if I were to be completely honest, it would be more than a ‘small’ percentage.

This all being said, I do not think this has anything to do with my age. Or getting older. Or being an old man. It’s just decency, really. But also, it’s always a bit fascinating to me when I come across people who have no spatial awareness, like zero understanding that there is a world around them with people and things happening.

By the way, I saw the movie Us, and it was spectacular. Brilliant. This blog was originally supposed to be about that movie, but unfortunately, at least for right now, The Inbetweeners have eclipsed all conversation about art and creativity.

I arrive early to see a movie before the lights go down. Yes, I know there are a million car commercials before we even hit the previews. I don’t care. I gotta be there when the lights go down. This is to ensure that I am comfortable for the trailers. Can’t miss the trailers. Even if it’s for shitty movies, I love it. Live action version of Aladdin? Pointless, but sure. The latest Avengers movie? Fine. It’s all good. To me, the commercials and trailers are really to get everyone settled down and stop talking with their friends. I hate when people talk through the movie trailers, but I lost this battle a long time ago.

When I went to the movie theatre this time, there was a seat with my name on it. On the other side of the theatre, way up in the corner at the top of the stairs was a seat at the end of the last row. It faced the stairs and so no one sat in front of me. I didn’t have to move for anyone. Brilliant. As the theatre filled up, I was still fairly confident that I would have an empty seat beside me. You see, you could only enter this theatre from the one side, and most people will take the first left up the stairs as soon as they get inside.

Most people.

As the trailers started, a couple raced up the stairs and sat in the row in front of me. The dude was tall and really needed to get his coat off. For some reason this was taking a long time and in order to get his coat off, he had to stand up right in front of me. He just stood there, slowly taking his coat off and blocking most of the screen.

I hated him almost immediately.

Three other people raced up after them and sat one seat across from me in the same row. After sitting down, all three of them took their phones out. Okay, everything is alright, I tried to tell myself. This yahoo in front of me just needs to sit down and these three knuckleheads beside me will definitely put their phones away. They totally realize that when they turn their phone on in a dark theatre, it illuminates a wide perimeter around them.

Of course they understood that.

The yahoo in front of me eventually sat down. This couple was talking during all of the movie trailers. Okay, that’s fine. They totally realize that there is an entire movie theatre of people and that them having full volume conversations is completely inappropriate and annoying.

Of course they understand that.

For the next ninety minutes, three things happened: the yahoos in front of me kept talking, the knuckleheads beside me never turned off their phones, and I grew to hate all of humankind.

There was but one respite from all the action. The three knuckleheads each had a backpack at their feet blocking the aisle. A person sitting further down had to use the washroom halfway through the movie. The knuckleheads were so engrossed in their phones that they didn’t realize that a person wanted to get past. So, the person tried climbing over their bags, tripped, and ended up falling into the lap of the nearest knucklehead. Like, right in his lap as though they were familiar lovers. The only thing that could have made this better was if the washroom person was holding a drink, and when he tripped, he spilled the drink all over the yahoos in front of me. A man can dream, can’t he? Maybe on the way back.

What I didn’t understand about the yahoos and the knuckleheads was why they were even there. They didn’t seem to want to watch the movie. The knuckleheads essentially paid fifteen dollars each to look at their phones. The yahoos talked like they were sitting at home or at a bar. Did I miss something? Do people just go to the movies to hang out now? When I’m at home watching a movie, I’ll check my phone sometimes. If I’m hanging out with someone, we’ll talk during the movie. But we’re alone. There’s not a giant room of people around us.

As for the knuckleheads on their phones? It’s just kind of sad. According to research from psychologist Larry Rosen and neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley, when you check your phone, it can take upwards of twenty minutes to focus back on the task at hand. The movie was only ninety minutes. But, then I was thinking - they’re really in-between two worlds, fully focused on neither. It was a scary movie with lots of loud noises and bangs and shocks and stuff. Whenever one of these happened, I could see in my peripheral the closest knucklehead’s head pop up. According to research, I guess it’d take him twenty minutes to focus fully back on his phone. After looking at his phone, twenty minutes to focus fully back on the movie. Another twenty on his phone. You get it. Knucklehead.

Despite all the yahoos and knuckleheads and talking and phones, the movie still seemed to cut right through that. The amount of focus I had was enough to absorb its greatness. But still, I think I’m going to stick to plays. People go to see plays for the actual plays. People get mad if you talk during a play. It’s a serious mistake.

But none of this, nothing, has anything to do with my age.

Paul Dore