Jonathan Melville: Shining a light on texting at the movies

A mobile phone. Pic: PA
A mobile phone. Pic: PA
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THERE was some shocking news from America recently, when it was reported that a cinema-goer had been killed for texting during the trailers before a film.

An argument broke out before the film, when one man started using his phone and refused to stop after a retired Florida police officer asked him to. The latter then pulled out a gun and shot the texter dead.

The case hasn’t gone to court yet so the facts are unclear - was it a spur-of-the-moment thing or were there other underlying issues - but the tragic death did once again raise awareness of audience behaviour at the cinema.

I’ve written before about an increase in the use of mobile phones during films and the fact that people can’t seem to leave Facebook alone for the duration.

Then there are the talkers, those individuals who seem to think it’s OK to chat about the film while they’re watching it. I’m still baffled that anyone feels the need to do anything but enjoy the film they have paid to see.

Photos of babies and tonight’s dinner on Facebook are never that interesting at the best of times, never mind during a multi-million dollar blockbuster.

Cinemas still don’t want to get involved by asking patrons to keep quiet, fearing they’ll scare them off. Once in a while there’ll be a ‘Switch Off Your Phone’ sign, but there’s no real attempt to shame the repeat offenders.

I did spot one successful way of preventing people texting during a screening at last year’s Edinburgh Film Festival: a torch was shone upon someone with a glowing phone screen until they stopped.

Simple, cheap and effective, it could be one way forward. Let’s make it a peaceful, yet effective, protest against the texters. Then chuck them out.


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