Whatever Happened to Common Courtesy and Decency?

August 3, 2009 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

I realize that the title of this post makes me sound like some shriveled up old lady who tells her grandkids stories about how she had to walk to a one room schoolhouse ten miles one way, uphill. That’s a risk I’m willing to take. The lack of manners displayed by some people never fails to astound me.

Saturday I decided to see a Rated R horror flick called Orphan. My decision was mostly based on the recommendation of a man at the ticket counter who said that he had seen it the night before, and it was good. Good enough for me.

Now I don’t mind going to the movies alone. It’s a good way to pass the time. No one cares or probably even notices if you are alone. Your mind is occupied, and it’s dark in the theater, so you and your single aloneness are not on display for the world to see. Eating alone is a little harder to manage. It’s easier if you bring reading material. I go to the movies by myself so often that the retired man who takes tickets at that theater was actually shocked the first time he saw me go to the movies with someone.

I sat down several minutes before the movie began. Keep in mind that I said that I bought a ticket to see a Rated R horror film. The opening sequence of the film is a woman’s very graphic and disturbing nightmare about the birth of a stillborn child, by caesarean section, no less. Thank God that the family missed that sequence by virtue of being late to the movie.

Yes, I said family. A family of two adult women, one adult male, two little girls and three or four little boys, at least two of which were not old enough to be in school yet, all came running in loudly and sat down in the aisle right behind my seat and then preceded to talk and run up and down the aisles and in and out of the theater and kick the back of my chair. The father of this charming brood left his cell phone on. The ring tone was whatever obnoxious rap song with inappropriate lyrics is popular at the moment. Not only did he leave it on and let it keep ringing for several bars of the obnoxious song, he also answered it and had a very loud phone conversation with someone in the middle of the movie.

The last straw for me was probably two-thirds of the way through the movie when the man and one of his pre-school aged sons carried on an entire conversation while I’m trying to watch my movie. Even after I turned around and pointedly stared at him to make sure he got how rude I thought he was, he just kept right on talking. I got up, walked out of the theater and demanded that something be done. I was not the first person to complain. I knew this because an usher had come up to the dad several moments earlier and told him that he needed to be quiet because at least two other patrons had come to speak to a manager about the noise.

I like to think of myself as a pretty tolerant person. However, in a movie theater that was also showing Ice Age and the latest installment of Harry Potter, for an adult in charge of small children to make the decision to take them to see Orphan instead, is unconscionable. I think that dad is lucky I only reported him to the manager of the theater instead of to the Department of Child Protective Services. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but Orphan includes, along with the previously mentioned inappropriate dream sequence, vulgar language, two scenes including simulated sex, a disturbing scene where a child tries to seduce an adult, two gruesome murders, and an attempted murder in which a child might have burned alive. There is frank discussion involving the death of a child, adultery, and alcoholism. Just because there is a picture of a little girl on the movie poster doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate viewing for children.

I get that families like to get out and have fun, too. I think they should.  When I was a child my parents insisted on my having manners. If I wasn’t quiet during a movie or a church service or if I acted up at a restaurant, I was removed from the scene, and there were consequences. Also, I think the first film I ever saw in a theater that wasn’t a Disney movie was ET. That was released in the early eighties. I would have been at least nine years old. It’s also pretty appropriate viewing for children.

I’m okay with discreet whispering in a movie theater. I’m not the Movie Nazi. I’m okay with raunchy music. Get your freak on. Just not in public. I love “Pussy Control,” by Prince. That’s pretty damn raunchy. It’s okay at a club at 2 A.M. or in the privacy of your own, hopefully child free home. It’s not an appropriate ring tone.

My point with this rant is this: be considerate of other people. The man in that movie theater wasn’t being considerate of anyone. His children would probably have preferred to watch Harry Potter but instead had to watch the movie he wanted to watch. He didn’t give a damn whether it would give them nightmares or provide them with disturbing images that they were way too young to process. He didn’t give a damn about how his noise or his family’s noise disturbed the movie viewing experience of everyone around him. And he didn’t give a damn if his cell phone ring was polite or not. I see more and more of this kind of behavior in the world every day, and it bothers me. It’s almost as if the only people that are procreating are the kind of idiots that shouldn’t be and those of us with enough smarts and manners to raise children right are not having them. That’s probably because a lot of us with smarts and manners are considerate enough not to purposely bring children into this world under less than ideal circumstances.

Entry filed under: Children, Manners, Social Commentary. Tags: , , , , , , .

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