Tuesday, December 30, 2008

But I understand

I've been a fan of Chris Rock for years and he remains in the upper tier of stand-up comedians in America. Any man who can plunge head first into issues of race and sex the way he does and not only survive, but make it funny and insightful has got some serious brains, and balls, happening.

I have on my iPod a collection of his "greatest hits" from his stand-up routines. And one of them is about OJ Simpson. He tears a strip of black people for being happy and excited about OJ getting acquitted for murdering Nichole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman as if it were some great victory for black civil rights, which is a fair point. But that's almost easy, really. Rock then goes for the hard laugh, which is to say that he kind of empathizes with OJ. Here's the bit that gets the big laugh.

"So you gotta think about OJ's situation: $25,000 a month, another man drivin' his car, fuckin' his wife, in a house he's still payin' a mortgage on. Now, I'm not sayin' he should have killed her...but I understand."

Some will be offended by that and, well, I understand. But I laughed. Because I think we've all been confronted by or read about horrible situations, things we would never dreaming of actually doing, but some part of you goes "oh yeah, I completely understand that."

So I would be lying if I hadn't thought at some point of doing the exact same thing this guy did when he shot a noisy man in the middle of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I love movies and I love going to theatre. Every single time I go down south I try and catch a movie on the big screen. If at all possible, I try and see an IMAX movie. I love the experience of being overwhelmed by something larger than life that seeing a good movie on a proper screen can give you. I consider a good movie theatre something like a cathedral...a place where you sit and the only time when it's permissible to make a noise is when you're told to by what's happening on the screen. Laughter, sobs, screams, moans and cheers are about the only acceptable noises in a movie theatre once a film starts.

You should be enjoying what's happening on the screen in front of you. If you're not, if you're bored or would rather be somewhere else, well, there's the door. Feel free to use it. I don't know what it is about theatres that makes it acceptable to be rude and disrupt other people's viewing experience, an experience they've also paid money for, but far too many have no problem with it.

The sheer volume of times I have wanted to commit murder in a movie theatre simply cannot be counted. Cell phones ringing, checking text messages, laser pointers, giving away plot points, philosophical discussions, criticism, big hats, kicking the back of my seat, gossiping and at least one couple who I thought were going to have sex right in front of me....you name it and I have in all likelihood experienced it at a movie theatre at some point.

Movie theatres really do tend to bring out some of the rudest things in humanity. I saw Quantum of Solace recently and was in a bad enough mood anyway because the movie was severely failing expectations, when a couple walked in 15 minutes late, sat behind me and talked through the film. At one point, when Bond ends up Bolivia, the woman began a discussion as to whether or not they spoke Spanish in Bolivia.

That was the part where I was physically gripping the arm rests to prevent myself from turning around and asking them to go home and look it up on Wikipeida.

So, it was a bad thing this man did. You shouldn't shoot someone over a disagreement on how much talking is happening at a movie theatre. You really shouldn't.

But I understand.

Last Five
1. We might as well be strangers - Keane
2. Loose translation - The New Pornographers*
3. He lied about death - Stars
4. Cologne Cerrone Houdini - Goldfrapp
5. Eyes - Tracy Bonham


Steph said...

Great post!

I hardly go to the theatre these days because of the obnoxious patrons. If I do go, I'll take in a matinee for a movie that's been out for weeks to avoid large crowds bearing cell phones.

When I first read the story of the shooting, I shamefully thought, "I wonder if this will make more people behave in theatres?"

Mireille Sampson said...

I gave up going to the theatre about 4 years ago. Apparently it's much worse here, the locals thinking it's okay to have a cellphone conversation in the theatre. Oh, and the smoking bans here aren't enforced.

The Perfect Storm said...

I think it began with changing television habits.

When I was a kid you watched.

These days, I am surrounded by family and friends who have migrated the traditional dinner table discussion into the TV hour(s).

Regardless of the decible level I can get out of the old box, the family seems to not notice. As they gather around, they up their accompanying sound track in response. Only occasionally do they even include reference to what I've popped in the DVD drive to enjoy.

You would think it's purposeful. I can't help but believe it's a cultural shift however. We don't have as much idle "talk time" in our over stimulated waking hours as we once did. Talking over a movie soundtrack seems much like talking over programming on the car radio these days.

But, I understand the lady's lack of interest in the latest Bond flick. I was bored as well and must confess: I whispered my dismay to my wife over one of the endless chase scenes.