Back to my hermit cave

I try not to swim in the mainstream of culture: frankly, it is trashy and overcrowded. I vehemently dislike the crass, blaring hype surrounding movies, television, popular music and anything else that is insisted upon as a Must-See or Must-Have, and if you haven’t seen it or don’t have it, you’re some kind of kook. That’s me trying to put my thoughts about this topic into a nutshell, because it’s not the subject of today’s post. Someday, I will rant more; today, I just want to introduce some context for the fact that I rarely go to the movies. When I do, it’s usually at one of Portland’s small, three-dollar pub theaters to see a second-run or independent film, rather than a cineplex. Cineplexes are like the big-box stores of movie theaters, except that, unlike Wal-Mart, they are more expensive than the competition. And, as I found out a few days ago, they are unpleasant enough to make a young person crotchety.

I went to the opening night of Toy Story 3, last Friday, at one of the large theaters in town. The movie was fantastic, and I was there with good company, but the rest of it the experience was nasty enough that I can hardly believe people do this as a regular form of entertainment. Forgive me for being behind the times, but when did a “small” soda become a 20-ounce cup that costs $4.75? I’d mistakenly hoped that eight dollars in cash might have gotten me a soda and popcorn to prevent my stomach from eating itself during the movie. It was dinnertime and I was hungry, but on principle I couldn’t spend six of my eight dollars on a “small” bag of popcorn. Instead I bought a box of Butterfingers, which probably weren’t a whole lot worse than movie popcorn anyway.

On our way into the theater, my two friends and I slowed down to look for the other people in our group, who had already taken seats. There was a woman with a bag of popcorn following us closely, and from the corner of my eye I saw her throw up her hands in exasperation as if we were preventing her from seeing the movie—although even the previews weren’t to begin for another ten minutes. And she wasn’t the only rude person around. While my friends and I had been lined up outside the theater, we had to pause to sort out some tickets as people began filing in through the open doors. Of course that irked the person behind us, who yelled, “Ex-cuse me!” I don’t like it when people hold up lines either, but weren’t we all there to have fun and see an animated kids’ movie? Why the grumpiness? There was another impatient-mother type on display after the movie let out: this one wasn’t yelling at me, but at her teenage son, who apparently had a “disgusting attitude.” Everybody in the hallway watched as his mom ordered him to march back into the theater, Mister, to retrieve a piece of garbage.

The common thread I’m seeing here is a sense of entitlement and over-indulgence. First, 20 ounces of soda is not a refreshment, and unless you’re a giant, it is not a “small” drink. It’s a treat with too much sugar, and I can’t fathom how it came to be a baseline for beverages. Second, these concession prices are extravagant. I think the problem there lies with theater chains rather than consumers. Soda is cheap; mass-produced candy is cheap; popcorn sauce with butter flavoring is probably cheap too. I don’t get it. Third, no person is entitled to a completely hassle-free experience whenever he or she is out in public (or in private, for that matter), and there is no cause to broadcast one’s dissatisfaction to everybody within earshot. Anyway, this is a movie theater! A place of fun and whimsy! Give yourself a break from the misery and irritation that no doubt occupy the rest of your life.

Not only do I want to stay away from places where the atmosphere is choked with Hollywood fluff; I also like to avoid the sorts of people who flock to those places. And thus, I have become crotchety.

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1 Comment

  1. Justin

     /  June 23, 2010

    LOL, you are SOOO crotchety Kristen! 😀

    I agree with pretty much everything here (including the ingestion of butterfingers :), but I do have a little insight on the concession pricing.

    Theaters negotiate the percentage of the box office income that they will get to get when they “lease” the film from the producers. Apparently the money that buys tickets goes mostly back to the movie studios. Concessions are where the theater covers it’s operating expenses and then makes profits. This is why most theaters stay right on top of the “no outside food or beverage” rule.

    On a side note, the crotchetiness you describe is what I usually feel like at Costco where people would rather run your over with a cart than slow down for a second.

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