To the man sat in E15 at last week’s 30th Anniversary screening of Predator:
It’s an enjoyable thing, indulging in 1980’s nostalgia at the cinema, with Arnie’s biceps almost tearing through the screen, painfully dated humour and an array of excessively over the top characters delivering the naffest of lines – “I don’t have time to bleed” being a particular favourite of mine. It’s equally lovely to attend such a screening in the comfort and familiarity of a local independent cinema where there is a warmth and sense of the bespoke spreading from the box office to the screens themselves. I purposefully avoid distracting multiplex screenings where infuriating, nacho-munching, IPhone checking individuals seem to gather, paying £10+ for a film they don’t ever really engage with. So to have the opportunity to see a mainstream, popcorn-tastic blockbuster like Predator in the comfort of my favourite cinema was a real treat. You sir, caught my attention in the early minutes of the film, as Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger share a rather homoerotic arm-wrestle I noticed what I believed to be the light of your phone, twinkling in the corner of my eye. Ignorant cinema behaviour such as this is not uncommon and being a polite and socially awkward Brit I was willing to let this one slide.
Soon you and your friends were taking it in turns to leap up from your seats and head to the urinals to relieve yourselves of the pints of beer you were enjoying during the screening – fair enough, I can cope with this. In fact, I go the cinema two or three times in an average week so I thought I’d seen it all, from drunken yells at horror screenings to bored parents constantly checking their Facebook feed in Pixar movies. However, just when it seems that cinema etiquette was all but dead and buried, you came along and hammered multiple nails into the coffin. You sir, you vaped. Yes, you filled the air with the artificial stench of cherries. You treated us all to a mini light display and chose to grace us all with not just your presence but with your billows of charming, chemical fuelled water vapour. On multiple occasions I have confronted rude audience members on distracting, ignorant behaviour, including a rather aggressive encounter with a loud Doritos-gobbling couple midway through Spectre. I am also prepared to be a little less agitated by an audience in purposefully fun screenings such as this, where there is a tendency to get a little over-excited. As Dutch commands his comrades to “GET TO THE CHOPPER!” I was partaking in a small audience applause and giggle.
Your behaviour was disruptive but in a much more selfish way. Whilst you puffed away on your chrome pipe, subconsciously patting yourself on the back for giving up your daily 20 Lambert & Butler, my partner and I were repeatedly battling to turn our attention back to peak-Arnie in all his oily glory. Before you challenge me on why I didn’t challenge you – consider this: why should I be the one who has to get up from my seat mid-movie, miss the experience I’d come for, just to tell you off for sucking on your toxic dummy – you should just, quite simply, know better. Vaping is the worst. It’s not cool on the street when you engulf strangers in clouds of bubble-gum infused smoke and it’s certainly beyond intolerable in a cinema. The cinema is my church, and your behaviour was the equivalent of you doing a moony at my child’s baptism. I am left pondering the age-old question: are people like you really that unaware of how disruptive you’re being or – Rhett Butler style – is it my dear that you frankly don’t give a damn. Either way, in the words of Carl Weathers’ Dillon – that’s a nasty habit you’ve got there and you’ve got a real bad attitude.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.