Confession: Movie rage made me ‘assault’ a stranger
It’s not hard to become a serial offender. It’s much harder to avoid becoming one. It’s hardest of all when your offence – serial, nearly serial, or otherwise – is Movie Rage.
This is a seriously under-studied syndrome suffered by usually polite and self-effacing people who go to the movies to see a film.
Not to have lunch, morning or afternoon tea. To see a film.
The movie The King’s Speech is great. When I went just after Christmas it was full house for all sessions.
If he hasn’t already, actor Geoffrey Rush (who plays eccentric Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue) will inspire young actors to enter the profession confident that they just have to learn their craft and don’t have to commit their inheritance on perfectly capped, evenly matched, white teeth to make it in Hollywood.
At my screening, the woman next to me (and like airline seating, one is intimately close) waited until the screen ads and the movie trailers had finished and the film was rolling before producing a pasty from a brown paper bag which she settled down to enjoy for lunch.
I spent many dollars and overcame the fear of surgery to have a nose job to clear my sinuses and regain my sense of smell. There are times I wish I hadn’t. This was one of them.
My neighbour’s pasty lunch along with her friend on the other side stage whispering “that’s Guy Pearce” (playing King Edward VIII) made me wonder if these ladies were let out often. Or whether they should have been let out at all.
I can speak with some authority on the inconsideration of some movie goers.
In 2006 at the Cinemark Theatre in Kemah, Texas, I was arrested and charged with assault well into the screening of Brokeback Mountain.
Besides being a seriously dramatic piece, beautifully acted by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal along with others of note, the scenery high in the mountains was spectacular. You were there.
Until that is, my neighbour dug in her cavernous bag to take out her ringing mobile phone and answered the call.
Hardly assault in my view, just a tap on the shoulder.
The advice from a gracious Texas Ranger was that if I didn’t sign the citation (for assault on a complaint that “She invaded my personal space”) they had this little room with an iron door, and “We would have to put you in there ma’am and lock the door”.
I signed, and it was then I discovered the incredible power and speed of the internet.
Moviegoers around the world rose en masse to reveal just how much anger they hold for those who eat, drink and chat throughout movie screenings.
My incident touched such a collective nerve that the response to just one article that appeared following a short telephone interview by then-Los Angeles-based Australian journalist Nick Papps resounded within hours around the world.
ABC Radio National’s movie program even came in to bat, saying “Movietime would like to congratulate Pauline Clayton who was charged with assault and fined $US150 in a Texas court after she tried to shush a local woman talking on her mobile phone during a screening of Brokeback Mountain.”
But it was on the internet that the movie-going public went ballistic. Thousands of people commented. Many offered funds for my legal defence. Others apologised for the rudeness of one of their own.
The incident even made the American Arts Journal and The College Hill Independent, along with Amazing Crimes, detailing Australians who have committed crimes overseas.
I’m in Phone Fury along with Russell Crowe.
If the lady enjoying her lunch during The King’s Speech could comprehend the global loathing of anyone who eats, slurps, chats and ignores the “personal space” of those around them during a theatre performance, she would be afraid.
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