Attention annoying US moviegoers: be glad you’re not in Latvia

Posted by: Brad Sturdivant

American audiences have become so self-obsessed and unaware of their surroundings that going to a sold-out theater to see a movie can be one of the most obnoxious experiences for a movie fan these days.  Between the texting, whispering, having the back of your seat kicked, crinkling of candy wrappers and a variety of other annoyances, just making it through a movie can be a daunting task.  But while much has been written about how obnoxious theater goers are, it deserves to be said that we as movie fans need to chill out.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

On Tuesday, a 42-year-old man was shot dead in a theater in Latvia because he was eating his popcorn too loudly.  The incident occurred during a showing of BLACK SWAN as the credits were rolling and supposedly, the two men got into an argument and the annoyed man had finally had enough.  It should be known that Latvia, for those that don’t know, is not a desolate, war-torn country.  It’s part of the EU and has barely 2 million people.  Gun violence is low and it’s a relatively peaceful country.

Popcorn death

This news can be met with shocked horror that a man could lose his life because he can’t close his mouth while he eats popcorn, but I think there’s a small part of all of us that understand it.  We don’t condone it, but we understand.  I watched a lot of movies growing up and popcorn was a staple at the Sturdivant household.  Well, it was a staple for my dad because my mother and I hate the stuff.  But my dad would chew the popcorn like a cow chews grass, smacking down on each kernel to maximize the sound.  As a kid, it drove me crazy to the point I refused to watch movies with my dad if he ate popcorn.  I was 5.

Movie Theater

The Chinese used to use (maybe they still do, I don’t know) a torture technique that was simply locking a prisoner in a quiet room and turning on a dripping faucet.  The idea was that a constant, interrupting sound could drive someone mad and they would do anything to turn the faucet off, including divulging top secret information.  So imagine sitting through BLACK SWAN, a film that is showing a character slowly spiraling out of control, and having someone smack their popcorn next to you the whole time.  And you have a gun.  I’m not saying it was right, but I understand (those of you that watch Chris Rock’s standup will hopefully get this reference).

Concession Stand

But joking aside, we as movie buffs, the ones that catch all the new movies, write reviews or just truly love the movie experience, have to stand up and be stronger than those around us.  We have to remember that movies are a form of entertainment for people and some people just want to go to the theater and have a good time.  They don’t want to go home and write a thousand words on whether or not DUE DATE has some deeper sociological meaning on society.  They just want to smack their popcorn and laugh a little bit.  And then we have to remember that Tuesday matinee shows are made for people like us.

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