This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Trashing The Movie Theater

"The sunflower guy's been back again...," I comment as I sweep up shell casings from the floor. He comes like a shadow at night-- this time the evidence is more far flung than usual-- even to the entrance to the womens' restroom. Is 'sunflower guy' [gasp] a woman? I wonder.

This isn't a stadium. We can't just take a giant hose and spray down the aisles-- This is a movie theatre. We have 16 screens and each screen hosts a film an average of five times a day-- that's 80 shows with varying turnaround times that never seem to be long enough. And unlike what you might think, we generally don't have an army of people to clean-- just a handful of us who have to work fast.

I often wonder about human decency. When you put your ABC gum in the cup-holder, do you ever stop to think that another human being will have to clean that up? Are you doing everyone a favor by taking fourteen napkins and kicking your popcorn tub underneath your seat as far as you possibly can? I still haven't forgotten [or forgiven] the guy in the last row of the lengthy "Curious Case Of Benjamin Button" who just couldn't wait and chose to whip it out, pee in a cup, and leave that gift for someone else to find--that someone was me. Humans are nasty, dirty, tasteless creatures.

What happened to etiquette? What happened to class? Does it just not exist anymore outside the fictional world of shows like Mad Men? When did it become okay to trash movie theaters? As I child, the cardinal rules drilled into me were 1) Clean up after yourself and 2) Learn to share. Surely, other people remember those lessons. American 'throw away' culture seems to endorse that it's okay to trash public places-- ah, we're Americans-- so leisurely and privileged. We're exempt from cleaning up after ourselves. That's why they hire help to do it for us.

It wasn't always this way. In the time of movie palaces, vendors hawked their wares outside, but theater owners didn't allow food in. Their palaces were treated as such-- kept as pristine and upscale as possible. However, popcorn kernels and wayward candy-wrappers crept in from the outside world, despite attempts to keep the mess out. The procession continued...and soon, theater-owners, searching for new sources of revenue, began selling snacks themselves. Movie house were built more modestly to accommodate the change and the film exhibition industry began to build an empire that today has concessions linked hand-in-hand with the movie-going experience. Today, concession sales continue to be a lucrative money-maker for theaters [since the highest percentages of ticket sales is money in the studios' pockets.] No fear-- the overpriced movie snack bar is hear to stay.

I know America is not the place to eat consciously or in moderation. Maybe you're thinking that if you leave that large popcorn tub congealed in butter and the caramel treasures, you can convince yourself it never happened. The evidence is there in the dark. You can't see it and no one knows it was you. Maybe you can convince yourself that you didn't eat the whole thing and then another thing. You didn't get butter and the large soda. You were in control.

In a good horror flick, you might get startled... in a good comedy, you might laugh yourself silly as popcorn explodes in your lap. What I'm asking is that you pay a little more attention to not only what you're consuming but also what you're leaving behind-- not just in your local movie theater, but everywhere you grace the planet with your presence. Clean up after yourself. We've all gotta share this country...this planet. And in this economy, it's no stretch of the imagination that you could very well be the one cleaning up after the next show. Think about it.

Movie Genres (from worst to best in cleanliness)
ACTION {especially mindless/plotless action}
COMEDIES {gross-out and stoner comedies are the worst}
HORROR FILMS {the scarier, the better...really scared people don't eat popcorn.}
INDEPENDENT/ART HOUSE FILMS {generally attract film fanatics that respect the art form and the venue.}
DRAMA {older, more mature/sophisticated audiences. Many times, plots don't generate a craving for munchies.}

Above all, BAD FILMS = increased mess. Audiences get bored. They get restless-- especially if it's a incredibly mediocre action film with a long running time. When someone in row G has ripped their ticket into 50 little tiny pieces, it's generally not a good sign for a film.

P.S. The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater does not sell snacks or allow any outside food into the theater. Good for them!

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle

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