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Movie-Texting Justice, Beach Style

RadCivlittle.jpgWhen we're at the beach for our annual vacation, we always try to see at least one movie, preferably a big, loud blockbuster. This year the choices weren't too good. "Transformers" is supposedly one of the worst movies ever made and I just couldn't see forking over the $8. We chose the new "Harry Potter" instead.

That movie isn't very good -- the HP franchise has become a collection of scenes, unsullied by any coherent story -- but I did appreciate the signs posted outside each theater: No texting.

I asked an usher how seriously the theater -- the Regal Inlet Square in Murrells Inlet, S.C. -- took the issue. Very seriously, he said. An usher walks through every theater several times during each screening, looking for the tell-tale glow. If they see someone texting, they ask him or her to put the phone away. If they see it again, the person is ejected without a refund.

Wow, I said. And how often do you actually have to kick someone out? "About once a day," he said.

Once a day. That strikes me as pretty high. But maybe it's low. I don't know how to respond to that.

Then he added: "If you have any problem with those teenage girls in there, let me know." He had noticed a gaggle of girls and identified them as a potential problem.

One was texting during the previews, but she stopped once the movie started. Just as he had said, the usher made several sweeps. Unfortunately, he was never there when a family a few rows back was talking and laughing. I turned a few times and gave them dirty looks but it didn't do much good. Their behavior was proof that people don't need technology to be annoying.

What's your summer moviegoing experience been like?

And don't forget that I need a slogan for our Radical Civility movement. If you have the perfect, pithy saying to accompany our gloved-fist-and-tea-cup logo, e-mail it to me at

By John Kelly  |  August 10, 2009; 8:24 AM ET
Categories:  Radical Civility  
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For what it's worth, I noticed this weekend that Regal Cinema at Potomac Yard has installed signs on all of the theater doors notifying people not to text or use cell phones in the theater. Not sure how much that is enforced but there was an usher that made the rounds at the start of the movie that seemed to actually be looking through the crowd instead of just going through the motions.

We've also taken a liking to the early matinee. It seemed weird at first, but when you catch a flick at 10:30 or 11 AM it is much less crowded, there are few to no teenagers, and the people that are there tend to be there b/c they genuinely want to see the movie without distraction. You just have to shift your thinking that a movie is something to do at night to the idea that it is a good way to start the day. (You also get more bang for your buck b/c it's cheaper and you're less tempted to buy junk food that early.)

Posted by: dr_klahn | August 10, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Good thing I buy all my tickets with American Express...

Kick me out for texting? Ill still get a refund.... That I guarantee you...

Posted by: indep2 | August 10, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Seems pretty stupid "indep2", why not save yourself all the trouble and either not text during a movie or stay home if you really have that little self control?

AmEx (and all their customers including yourself) would be much better served if they spent their money investigating truly fraudulent charges instead wasting everyone's time fighting piddly 10-dollar fees from whiny self-entitled brats who were called on their manners.

Posted by: dr_klahn | August 10, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I love hearing about a crackdown. I went to see The Proposal on a Sunday night in Boston. Four rambunctious teens sat in front of us and the one on the aisle actually plugged her cell phone charger into the wall! We were only in the 5th or 6th row so there was a lot of traffic passing by. Twice people stepped on it. I was on alert just waiting for somebody to trip. Thank goodness it didn't happen. I've spoken up in theaters before but was hesitant this time as the theater staff had already been unhelpful. Theaters need to be patrolled more during films.

Posted by: squirrel13 | August 10, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse


Demand something, and find out how fast people like me will whip out our cell phones just to piss off people like you...

Enjoy the lesson to be learned from tolerance of others...

Posted by: indep2 | August 10, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe people are actually defending their right to text and talk during movies. I paid to see a movie; why should I have to "tolerate" jerks who want to ruin it for everyone?

Posted by: Sam888 | August 10, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

First of all, I didn't demand anything. It's simply about common courtesy. If I saw you texting on the street it would be disrespectful for me to walk up and read over your shoulder, just as it is disrespectful for you to distract people trying to watch a movie.

"Tolerance of others" does not mean everybody should be able to do whatever they want whenever they want. It's ironic that you say that too because by distracting other people during a movie you're not tolerating the wishes of the people who are there to watch it.

Be a selfish prick and find out how fast people like me will take your cell phone and jam it down your throat. Enjoy the lesson to be learned in being respectful of others.

Posted by: dr_klahn | August 10, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

My goodness, Dr. K. Please tell me you are not someone's analyst!

Posted by: iremembrmama | August 10, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Okay, break it up, break it up! It's much too hot for this kind of behavior.

@Indep2: I'm delighted that you read this blog but I'm distressed by your assertion that moviegoers should be "tolerant" of movie texters. The whole point is that I and my Radical Civility brethren (and sistren) think movie texters should be tolerant of US. Our position is that texting should not take place in movie theaters. Period.

However, I must remind @dr_klahn that we Radical Civilians must aspire to an almost Zen-like calm, a state that does not allow ramming things down peoples' throats.

Of course, it could be that both Indep2 and dr_klahn are just baiting each other--I hear that happens on the Internet--or that they are, in fact, the same person.

Posted by: JohnFKelly | August 10, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey indep2,

Turn on your cell phone and text during a movie and you will reach a very nice zen like state when you taste the offending device from the wrong end of your mouth little boy. You might also find your testicles are in the way. Are those moans or zen like chants?

Tolerance of others little boy starts by texting or using your cell phone when appropriate. And punk we can always take this debate outside.

Now little boy your mommy is calling so stop trying to win at pocket pool and go clean your room. D*mn 42yo and still living at home and you have never been promoted 7/11. I am impressed!

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | August 11, 2009 7:01 AM | Report abuse

It amazes me that people are still trying to be thugs on the internet...

Does you mommy still tuck you guys in at night and pat you on the head just to make you feel entitled? Or Special?

Perhaps your only purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others....

Go pop some more facial zits now little boys... and get yous panties out of a wad while you're at it..

Posted by: indep2 | August 11, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse


So because someone told you not to text, you'd go to a theater, pay $10, text like a wild man, get tossed, NOT see the whole movie, drive home, then spend half an hour on the phone with AMEX to get your $10 back, only to have to buy another ticket to the same movie later?

That seems like a lot of hassle just to disobey a sign.

Posted by: thefranchise379 | August 11, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse


No my mommy doesn't tuck me in at night but your woman does.

Internet thug only in your wet dreams hoss.

Now isn't time for you to get ready for your shift at 7/11. Don't sell that beer to those underage girls that's what got your sorry butt fired at CVS.

And congrats on your 25th anniversary as college student. I am sure one day you will pass a class and have some credit hours at Chuck County Community College or qualify for the senior citizens discount whichever comes first.

And dont forget to checkout this website bubba

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | August 12, 2009 6:52 AM | Report abuse

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