I want my police state onscreen only

Here’s an interesting story on a trade group’s efforts to improve the movie-going experience:

The National Association of Theater Owners, the primary trade group for exhibitors, is pushing to improve the theatrical experience by addressing complaints about on-screen advertisements, cellphones in theaters and other disruptions, while planning a public relations campaign to promote going out to the movies.

Some of the proposed solutions may not be so popular. The trade group plans to petition the Federal Communications Commission to permit the blocking of cellphones inside theaters, Mr. Fithian said. That would require changing an existing regulation, he added. But some theaters are already testing a no-cellphones policy, asking patrons to check their phones at the theater door.

A spokesman for a cellphone lobby said the group would object to any regulatory change. “We’re opposed to the use of any blocking technology, because it interferes with people’s ability to use a wireless device in an emergency situation,” said Joseph Farren, a spokesman for CTIA-the Wireless Association, based in Washington.

Hypothetical situation: Movie theaters entice couples back to the movies with a “no babies” policy. Their marketing works! But to accommodate this newly rediscovered date night at the movies idea, the couple needs to hire a babysitter to watch their kids. Everything so far falls into a normal scenario. Now twist this to include the “ticking time bomb” (aka highly improbable, particularly distressing) scenario. The babysitter needs to reach the couple because their child is having a medical emergency. They can’t receive the call because the cell phone signal is blocked. This is wise?

I can understand a desire to make the movie-going experience more pleasant, but are cell phones that troublesome? Only once have I been watching a movie in a theater when a rude person interrupted the film with a ringing cell phone not set to vibrate. The individual answered the call and conversed for several minutes, to much vocal complaint from other members of the audience. I’d have no problem with a business policy of removing guests from the theater who engage in such unacceptable behavior, as the theater should’ve done with that gentleman. But that occurred more than six years ago. Perhaps people are still too stupid to put their phones on vibrate or turn them off. My recent experience suggests not.

But for a moment, I’ll assume it’s more frequent, since I don’t see that many movies in the theater now. (An indictment against movie quality, not movie-going experience, by the way.) What’s wrong with a “no audible ringtone” policy? I’d accept a “no cell phone” policy, too, but I’d accept it by hiding my phone or not bothering to go to the movies. It’s never been a problem, but I’ve been to concerts where patrons had to check camera phones at the door, verified by metal detectors. I hated it then, and I refuse to attend such concerts in the future. I won’t trust a business which doesn’t trust me. But that involves private transactions. Blocking cell phone signals is so far beyond that standard, I’m stunned anyone has the gumption to request such nonsense. Clearly the FCC should reject this. Otherwise, the trade group might as well lobby Congress for a tax on Netflix to stop the devastating impact of DVD rentals.

(Hat tip)

One thought on “I want my police state onscreen only”

  1. I saw Titanic with a friend who is an ob/gyn. During the film, his phone went off several times – a patient was going into premature labor.
    Yeah, great idea to block cellphones in movie theaters.
    (Of course, I’m sure you would support the “No Loud Whispering Throughout The Movie by Women Named Danielle Who Are Sitting Next to Me” proposal…)

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