Have smartphones destroyed the movies?

Kyle Smith, writing in the New York Post, claims that smartphones have destroyed the movie-going experience.

Even five years ago, a trip to the movies (or theater) was just about the last thing we did that involved absolute concentration on just one thing, total surrender. Then came the iPhone.

For a couple of years it has been my habit, when someone sitting next to me pollutes my peripheral vision with one of these pernicious little boxes, to call out, not quietly, “Will you SHUT THAT OFF PLEASE?” My purpose is to emphasize the rudeness of the habit by being even more obnoxious. Usually this tactic incites nasty stares, and I suppose one day it’ll earn me a beating. But something must be done.

Just in the past year or so, the iDistracted disease has spread to private, invitation-only screenings attended exclusively by fellow journos, entertainment-industry types and other invitees who really ought to know better. When there’s a quiet stretch of one second or more, someone is likely to disrupt the moment by sparking up some iCrack.

There’s more at the link.

From my admittedly curmudgeonly perspective, I’d suggest to Mr. Smith that the problem lies, not with smartphones or technology, but with the movie theaters themselves.  Years – decades! – ago, I decided I’d be damned if I was going to pay hard-earned money for the altogether dubious ‘privilege’ of being bombarded by over-loud advertisements and endless trailers for forthcoming movies in which I had no interest whatsoever – not to mention offered only drinks and snacks so overpriced as to defy economic logic.  If I want to be bored, robbed and deafened simultaneously, there are many places that will arrange that free of charge.  Why should I pay for the privilege?

Only if and when movie theater owners and operators actually do something to make me feel welcome at their venues, and stop alienating me in so many ways, will I bother to become a regular theater-goer once more.  Until then, I’ll buy or rent a DVD.



  1. Agreed. When movie theaters started running actual frigging commercials before the picture started, well that was it for me. I don't pay money to be solicited and have my time wasted as someone tries to get me to buy stuff that, if I wanted, I'd already have.

  2. Nah, not with the movie theaters, really – the problem starts with the movies. If you don't want me to check a different form of information (for reference, communication, or relief of boredom) during a movie, then you need to start with a movie compelling enough I'll be able to maintain a willing suspension of disbelief.

    This is why I prefer places like the Bear Tooth Theater, where you order really darned good pizza or other great food, get some microbrew or local-brewed root beer, and if the movie's terrible, well, the food was great, and nobody turns a hair if you're making fun of it the whole way through (unless you're offending their ideology.)

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Lord of the Rings on the big screen. Seventy minutes of worldview from the inheritors of soviet agit prop and special snowflake teachers, or special effects strung together to compensate for lack of story (and not even Vin Diesel's shoulders to ogle)? Better have a good Belgian Lambic and a solstice pizza ready for me to stomach that.

  3. And yet, even with that… there's just something nice about the big screen, the super surround sound system, etc.

    But yeah, I fucking hate cell phones in theaters. I've had to actually tell people to hang up the phone when they were having a conversation during the movie. The most amusing of those, the guy had apparently been blinded by his little screen, and got pretty shirty until his eyes adjusted back and he noticed the vast size discrepancy between us.

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