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A Modest Proposal: A Radical Solution to Movie Texting?


Reader Donna Hosek has an idea for how to deal with movie texters. Now, I can't tell whether Donna's being serious or whether she's being facetious but I like her creativity. Here's what she has to say:

I don't go to movie theaters and I don't text, but I think this could be a possible invention to solve the texting-during-movies problem. There are some kinks that still need to be worked out.
Since texters are looking at their texting screen and not the movie, theater personnel could surround each texter with a "portable, personal texting booth" (PPTB). They would still be able to hear the movie. This PPTB would be a box just wide and long enough to fit around an occupied movie theater seat, and about 3 ½ to 4 feet tall with no top. Of course the problem with this is it would block the view of people sitting behind the texter, but we can work that out later.
The theater could store these boxes hanging from the ceiling. Through a series of ropes and pulleys a box could be gently dropped onto anyone seen texting. This dropping of boxes would be distracting to other moviegoers but they would get used to it and eventually ignore it, or the texting would stop out of fear of having a box dropped on you.
This idea may not be feasible but just the sight of human-sized boxes hanging from the ceiling of the theater may keep people from texting during a movie.
I hope this idea helps your cause. I do have other ideas but they seem kind of silly.

Silly ideas? Nonsense.

Donna's box idea gave me an idea of my own: Take a box that's about the size of the one Donna mentioned, roughly 3 ½ by 4 feet, more horizontal than vertical. Install a mechanism that is able to reproduce the sounds and images from a motion picture, delivered via some sort of cable, energy pulse or convenient storage medium. Make the box inexpensive enough that every household in America could afford one.

People unable to resist texting could watch a movie on this box, in the privacy of their own home, secure in the knowledge they wouldn't be annoying anyone else. I call this device the "texting box," or TB.

I think it might just take off. Now, if we could just get the movie texters to stay home in front of the TB instead of going to the multiplex and ruining the show for the rest of us.

By John Kelly  |  July 8, 2009; 9:22 AM ET
Categories:  Radical Civility  
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Two words: ejection seats.

Posted by: MikeLicht | July 8, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Maybe that "clever clogs" that invented the TV zapper can invent one that turns off phones, blackberries, etc.

Posted by: mfromalexva | July 8, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

John, John, John. Your pie-in-the-sky ideas will never work. Here's why:

1. This texting box would require a huge amount of infrastructure; somebody's going to have to transmit the movies to the TB. Who's going to pay for that? The modern answer is "sell ads", but how can you possibly do that for a 90-minute movie? What are you going to do, stop the movie every 15 minutes to show an ad? And how would you measure click-throughs without any clicking? It's a non-starter.

2. Your dimensions, 4 x 3.5, sound awfully boxy. This is the age of the iPhone. The TB should be sleek. Off the top of my head, the ratio should be more like 16 to 9.

3. What is this TB going to look like when it's not being used for watching movies? It's obviously rather large, and probably is a central feature of the living room. It should be encased in a wood cabinet, and look like a fine piece of furniture.

My mom's brother happens to make furniture; I'll ask Uncle Miltie what he thinks of it.

Posted by: JayL1 | July 9, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

@JayL1: Furniture, huh? That means we'll have to look at it as if it was a credenza. It will come to dominate our living rooms. Maybe it would be better to put it out of site: in an armoire or maybe up in the ceilig from which we could lower it.

Speaking of iPhones, have you heard of my latest idea: Imax movies for the iPhone. I think they could be big. Well, small.

Posted by: JohnFKelly | July 10, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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