Babies and oldies at the cinema

Last updated 08:00 06/06/2012

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".

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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Post a comment
Roccoco   #1   08:17 am Jun 06 2012

Old people, Babies, it don't matter:

I am taking a water pistol to PROMETHEUS so if I get a "NO" (read Charlie's article) they will get wet. (better than corrective pugilism yes?)

If you watch a stage play in a THEATRE and you talk or act up you get asked to leave, why do people see a film and think its any different?

Leigh   #2   09:40 am Jun 06 2012

I don't see why parents take little kids to normal cinema screenings. Most cinemas offer a baby related screening, cheap tickets, lights on and parents and little ones can all annoy each other and not anyone else. I take our kids now to some movies but with the understanding that if they make a single noise (not that they do with popcorn keeping them quiet) that we'll leave so as to not ruin anyone elses expereince. Some people obviously don't have the same consideration and forward thinking for others.

D   #3   09:41 am Jun 06 2012

Most cinemas now offer mum and baby sessions for those who CAN'T get out without their littlies - where all have brought babies and no-one can be surprised if their viewing pleasure is spoiled by a screaming child. Taking a wee one to a later session is just rude.

I took my kids (9 & 11) to the Avengers - AFTER I'd seen it and was sure the 'M' rating wasn't for anything they couldn't handle. We had a big talk the day before, the morning of, and in the car on the way regarding acceptable behaviour in the cinema; and I'm happy to say they didn't ruin anyone else's enjoyment of the movie.

Why do I feel I'm alone in respecting the fact that movies are EXPENSIVE these days, everyone in the cinema has forked out to be there - and NO-ONE has paid to listen to cell-phone conversations, to the private lives of the screeching teens, or to kids squawking throughout.

Mandy   #4   10:19 am Jun 06 2012

Had the misfortune of sitting in front of a row of oldies at the cinema once. They were pretty terribly behaved. Ones phone kept ringing, rather than turning it off she kept answering and yelling in to it!

Silarnon   #5   10:30 am Jun 06 2012

I think it depends on the movie.

A few years back I went to see "The Ghost and the Darkness" with a friend, and got very annoyed with a bunch of giggling teenage girls. They completely ruined the film for me.

My friend (a very wise lady indeed) persuaded me to try another film to get rid of my anger.

So we went to the midnight screening of Scream. There were also teenagers there, making noise, but this time they were screaming at the scenes on screen (particularly the first appearance of Ghostface). Scream was a film designed to provoke the audience, so the noise and response were entirely appropriate.

Another example is the South Park film. There is a scene where the U.S. General shoots Bill Gates. This prompted wild cheering in the cinema, and was entirely appropriate.

If the audience works with the film, it makes for a much better experience.

Mary   #6   11:23 am Jun 06 2012

I would completely agree with the comments about elderly people especially women. It is so bad that I shudder inwardly if I go to a film and see there are groups of elderly. Last time I went I got a running commentary on the credits - "Judy Dench ooh I like her", more running commentary on various operations had by self or friends, loud explanations to deaf friend/partner. I dont know why they come to the movies - its certainly not to watch the film. On the other hand I've never had any problems with teenagers - they all seem quite engrossed by the film.

Jon D   #7   11:32 am Jun 06 2012

@Silarnon #5

Your "appropiate" stories reminded me of the time I saw the first Toby Maguire era Spiderman movie.

It was the scene near the end where Spidy and the girl(played by Kirsten Dunst) are talking about their love for each other and not being able to express it or whatever

Anyway after a few minutes of that bollocks some guy yells out "oh God" and the whole theatre (more or less) erupted in laughter. This was at the refurbished Embassy theatre in Wellington

Maybe that was slightly inappropiate but most of us got a kick out of it

Label   #8   12:53 pm Jun 06 2012

I think people of all ages can be rude in the cinema. I wonder if many of the people that responded to Charlie by singling out the young and the old are themselves guilty of cinema crimes but just don't realise it?

Anyhow, I try to go to showings of movies where I have the chance to minimise audience members that are just there for something to do. Prometheus tonight, advanced session on a school night should be sweet!

Malky   #9   01:07 pm Jun 06 2012

@Silarnon #5 Reminds me of going to see Star Wars Ep IV,V&VI in a single showing in London and the audience behaved like it was pantomime - they cheered the good guys and booed every time Darth Vader appeared. It was great.

My wife used to take the kids to the baby sessions of the movies when they were young. Her only problem was that the noise and vibration from the movie would mean our kids slept through the entire movie and my wife would end up getting annoyed at all the other babies that did make noise. The other problem is that we never got to see movies together. So, we started to take our kids to normal sessions on the understanding that if they made any noise, one of us would take them out and not come back. We never had to. It does depend on the child though. My son loves movies and gets engrossed - no problem. My daughter gets bored. So at 5 she is more of a handful and makes more noise than she ever did as a baby.

As for old people, I get the impression they have some inflated sense of entitlement that the normal rules of politeness don't apply to them. This isn't restricted to the movies.

Dr Shut The ... Up   #10   01:24 pm Jun 06 2012

Easy topic to generate some response.

For noise, yep - probably babies (stick to the appropriate sessions) and the senior society members (the latter should know better but seem not to). Teenagers (and an increasing number of middle-aged people) are the ones who text, kick seats, laugh inappropriately, giggle amongst themselves.

ANYONE who eats noisy food in a quiet movie should also be thrown out (and that includes popcorn). It's (I suppose) acceptable in movies like Transformers/The Avengers but I dread going to see Prometheus: silence, tension, drama - punctuated by "munch munch munch, slurp slurp, slurp, munch, rattle".

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