Babies and oldies at the cinema

20:00, Jun 05 2012

Apparently, babies and the elderly don't know how to behave at the cinema.

Last week, I wrote a blog about antisocial behaviour in the cinema. You know, that annoying person who takes calls on their cellphone or just can't shut up during the movie. I asked readers to identify the main culprits and two surprising groups emerged. One was the elderly, the other was babies.

Let's start with the elderly.

Many people commenting on the blog last week complained about elderly cinemagoers talking through the film. This was one of the worst horror stories:

"Old ladies are the worst. I went to a movie at the Penthouse cinema in Wellington, which is considered a 'boutique' cinema. Three old women sitting behind us talked through the entire movie. I tried the death stare and, when that didn't work, relatively politely asked them to stop talking. They just looked at me and said 'no' and continued to talk through the rest of the movie.''

That's a nightmare. I can't imagine plucking up the courage to politely ask someone to be quiet and getting a straight "no".

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So, why would older people be such bad cinema patrons? I have no idea.

Maybe the expectation that a cinema audience be relatively silent is a modern phenomenon. It sounds as though fleapits back in the day were pretty riotous places, often used as somewhere to sleep off the effects of the six o'clock swill.

I remember my dad telling me that he went to see The Third Man, but there were no set screening times so the film would just play on a loop and you would walk in whenever you arrived. It means my dad saw the second half of The Third Man before he saw the first half. Strange.

So, maybe the old ladies who plague you in the cinema are just behaving in the way they always have, but expectations have changed. Who knows. Have you got any thoughts? Are we being unfair to the elderly? Am I being ageist?

And, so, to babies.

Many people commented last week that people were taking babies along to entirely inappropriate movies. People wrote of horror movies being drowned out by the sound of a screaming child.

Here was the worst story:

"I went to The Avengers the other week and there happened to be a mother with a very young child/baby. Unsurprisingly the regular booms and screeches of the movie soundtrack caused this child to become quite upset. This went on for quite a while before they were taken outside to be settled down, but happened several more times as the film progressed. Why they thought it appropriate to bring someone so young with them was very odd.''

I have experienced this recently: a woman in the back row of an 8pm screening had a very young child in her lap. The child was pretty well behaved, but it was an alarming sight.

Should parents be allowed to take their babies to a late night movie? Doesn't that spoil the film for everyone else? Isn't this what mother and child screenings are for? Am I being unfair?

Let me know what you think.

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