By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
The silver screen first earned it’s name because when our great or great-great grandparents started attending the “moving pictures” in the nineteen-teens, the screens were coated with reflective silver paint to better show the images.
Since silver has always been precious, and movies quickly became precious entertainment, the term stuck.
Back then going to the movies was an event. The films were shown in gilded movie palaces. Like any grand event, patrons dressed up and used their best manners as they were escorted to their plush seats by white-gloved ushers.
Fast forward to today’s 20-screen mega-plex cinemas and we can all agree that our silver needs a little polishing.
We’re use to watching movies in the privacy of our family rooms where we can yell at the screen, talk to our friends and family, leave the room six times to go to the kitchen, bathroom (or a combination of the two!) wear our bathrobes, and genuinely think only of our enjoyment. It’s easy to forget when we go to the mega-plex, it’s a shared, public experience.
And when we enter into shared experiences there’s Gold Standard of interaction. If we follow it, everyone will stress less and enjoy the show more.
No more guy in flip-flops sitting next to you with his feet on the back of the chair in front of him, his hairy big toe and snaggy toenails at your eye-level.
No more mom or dad that doesn’t remove their fussy child because they don’t want to miss the next scene.
No more person with the extra-large soda and the extra-small bladder just about tripping over your feet on the way to the bathroom for the third time.
Since we consume most of our media at home, and going out to the movies isn’t something we do daily, we could all benefit from a little polishing up for the next time we take in a movie on the silver screen.
The concession line, and the movie ticket or automated ticket kiosk lines need to move quickly so people can get into the theater on time. Have your method of payment in hand when it’s your turn. If you’re buying concessions, know what everyone wants before you order. At the counter is the worst time to turn to the people with you and ask, “OK, what do you all think you want?”
Fellow movie goers don’t want to hear a too-loud-to-be-a-whisper but “whispering” voice holler, “Don’t forget the butter, and I want a Diet Coke not a regular one!” from eight seats down the aisle as some unfortunate person chosen to be the concession runner for his or her party tries to slip by everybody in the aisle.
When people hear whispering their attention is automatically turned toward it. We can’t shut it out. It’s distracting. It boggles our brain because we can’t quite make out what’s being said. Our minds tune into it even more.
And yes, even though the other people are strangers, studies show that most people at least consider if not believe that you’re whispering about them.
Plus, when people whisper they tend to put their head close to the other person’s head. Doing so makes for one giant head that blocks the view of the people in the seats behind the whispering duo.
You’ve put your phone on silent vibrate and you just felt it send you a text message. You don’t plan on texting back, but surely you should check to see if everything’s OK. The text might be important. So in consideration of others you’ve decided to bend down low, place the phone near the floor, or inside your large purse or bag as you read the message.
Doesn’t cut it!
The little bit of light coming from phone screens is brighter in a dark theater than most users realize. It distracts the people sitting to your right and left in at least the four rows behind you.
If you think you’re going to need your phone during the movie, arrive early to insure you get an aisle seat, exit the theater, deal with your phone in the hall, and then reenter the theater.
Bottom line: Movies equal a phone free zone.
The movie trailers are your time to settle into your seat, make a last minute run to the concession stand or bathroom, turn off your phone, and finish talking to those with you. It’s OK to not be totally in movie manner mode, yet.
If the theater isn’t at all crowded it’s OK to take an extra seat to set your coat, purse and shopping bags. (Some movie theaters are in malls so people have shopping bags with them.) The floor is nasty and you don’t want to get your purse dirty, plus it’s prime for people who are entering or exiting your row to step-on or trip over when they’re on the floor.
If the theater is crowded, or you’re fearful that you purse or packages might be stolen in the dark, place them on your lap. It’s going to be crowded in your seat, but there really isn’t any other place for them. (Make sure the shopping bags don’t make crinkling noises during the movie.)
This gracious way of entering and exiting a row isn’t just for the movies. It’s for any row…anywhere.
Turn your back to the screen (stage, lectern, pulpit….) and enter the row facing the people that you’re squeezing by. Make eye contact, smile, and say, “Excuse me.” as you make your way up-or-down the aisle.
This keeps your hinney (which when someone is sitting is at their eye level) out of their line of sight, and while yes, that does put your front section in their field of vision, since you’re looking at them, smiling, and talking, hopefully, they’re looking up at you, instead of straight ahead. And if they’re not, well, at least you’ll know it!
If the event hasn’t started yet, it’s nice for people to stand to let the newcomer’s pass.
A sweet lady in Texas wrote me this week asking if I could address some drive-in movie theater manners. She lives within driving distance of two theaters. Not too many people can say that!
I remember being in first grade and going to see a Disney double feature at a drive-in. My best friend was with me on a perfect fall Florida evening. There was a swing set and playground at the front of the theater where we gazed straight-up in awe at the giant screen daring each other to run and touch it between swinging, sliding, and teetering-tottering. Between features, my mom helped us change into our pajamas in the restroom because it was after 8:30 PM. We lounged in the backseat wrapped in quilts, giggling, and munching on popcorn and Whoppers till the sweet tug of sleep overcame our fantasy evening and danced us into our dreams sometime before the end of the second feature.
According to Vanishing America: The Drive in Theater (Gadling.com) there are only 366 drive-ins still open in the U.S. If you’re fortunate enough to live close to one, or you get to visit someday, here are a few things to keep in mind: Turn your head lights off and keep them off, don’t smoke (The odor drifts into nearby cars.), don’t let your children go outside unsupervised, don’t bring smelly food, and no alcohol because we don’t need drunk drivers on the way home. Lastly, don’t talk loud enough that your voice can be heard in a neighboring car.
I found this short video, and it’s so quaint you’ve gotta love it.
As it advertises, one of the big draws of going to the drive-in theater is so dad doesn’t have to get dressed-up.
Times have changed!
Here’s the video for your enjoyment. If it doesn’t play, it’s at the end of the article above on Gadling.com. Drive-In Movie Theater Pre-Movie Welcome and Announcement
When we keep in mind that going to the movies is a shared experience, and that everyone stresses less and enjoys shared experiences more when we show up with a little polish, enjoying a movie on the Silver Screen can be the pleasant pastime it’s been for a little more than 100-years now.
I bet you have some movie stories to share, and some tips to add to our list of the the Best Movie Manners. I got us started. Come on over to the comments and join in. It will be a joy to hear from you.
I’ll see you next Monday! Until then, be kinder than necessary and show the world the special blessing they can only get from you. You…at your best!
Blessings on your week,
PS: If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends, family, and folks in your social media circles. I’d be honored if you’d Share, Like, Pin, Google+, and Tweet this post. Help spread the message that good manners are alive and well and just waiting for all of us to notice and embrace them!
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By: Maralee McKee
Valentine's Day: the most romantic, lovey-dovey, glorious day of affection, gifts, and expressions of love of the year. Or, a day you wish you could sleep through so you don't have to look at even one gushing, bouquet carrying, heart shaped chocolate eating, drunk on love person.
I've been on both... Read more …
Thank you for being here! Manners Mentor, Inc. is an upbeat blog dedicated to helping you become successful in every part of your life by interacting with ease and savvy, and turning self-consciousness into self-confidence. If you want to be authentically You at Your Best you're in the right place!
Watch Maralee on the nationally syndicated morning show, The Daily Buzz!