Saturday, April 28, 2012

Let's put a bounty on cell phone users!

...You can't just let The Text-Crazy Kids blaze up Facebook in a theater in order to boost box office without messing it up for everyone else -- and that includes the rest of us old people and that segment of the teenage populace that, you know, doesn't need to compulsively check their phones at the movies and maybe, just maybe, hates it as much as the rest of us when other people do it. To officially allow texting in a theater is to effectively encourage texting in a theater. And while folks like Miles might experiment with outside the box teen baiting strategies -- and good luck to her in that -- how can you even effectively host a text-friendly screening? By offering specialty showtimes, a la Baby Brigade or 21 and Up screenings, maybe?
This has been in the wind for awhile now - the possibility of some movie theaters experimenting with allowing texting for certain films at certain times. I think we can all agree that this idea is wrong, wrong, wrong for so many reasons. I had to confront a cell phone user at a movie recently, and while it may be necessary, it's not always pleasant (I consider myself lucky that I didn't have to yell or get physical in any way). Still, if dwindling ticket sales are the root problem that this idea is supposed to solve, let's find a better solution - one that doesn't reward bad behavior. 

A fine for cell phone use is a good idea, but it would require vigilance on the part of theater staff, and not every theater has the amount of people available for the task. And ushers can't be in the theaters all the time. So why not give the audience the ability to police itself... and in a way that would not only encourage them to root out cell phone users, but actually reward them for the effort!

Think about it: how many more people would turn out for the movies every week if the theaters offered a lucrative reward for catching cell phone users in the act? When you go out this summer to see Avengers or Amazing Spider-Man or Men in Black 3, you don't wan't the experience ruined by some douchebag texting in the middle of the movie, but most people don't feel inclined to do anything about it. Well, if you knew that the theater would reward you with, say, a $50 gift certificate and unlimited popcorn at your next screening, would you do something about it then? You bet your ass you would! And if you're there with a bunch of your friends, well then, you've got a whole posse backing you up, pal! What's one little pimply-faced teenager gonna do against that?

The theater could also provide some sort of silent signaler which one could use to alert the staff, for those times when the cell phone user may have friends backing him or her up. Because after all, you wanna collect on that bounty, but you don't wanna have to fight for it - unless you feel you can win, that is!

And of course, it's entirely possible that more than one person could lay claim to the bounty, in which case management can simply split the reward equally. The important thing is to emphasize teamwork. Everybody should be encouraged to work together towards a common goal. And management should recognize that you've gotta spend money to make money - because isn't a little financial incentive worth a bigger ticket-buying audience?

I think it's worth a shot, don't you?

[Eh, okay, so this is only half-serious. Feel free to improve on my idea all you like.]



  1. Text-friendly screenings is a WRETCHED idea! I hadn't heard such of such a thing. It's pretty ridiculous when we've come to a point where people can't go two hours (or less) without checking their texts or Facebook pages. C'mon, people. I agree--this would be the equivalent of rewarding bad behavior.

  2. It would set an awful precedent if anyone actually went through with it, and that's what scares me the most.


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