In a move faster than a phone being hurled out of Kevin Williamson’s hand, AMC has already ditched its plans to allow texting in theaters. The only problem with this is that it’s the exact wrong policy. AMC should–nay, must!– re-revisit this idea and allow texting in all its theaters, post haste.
I mean, if there’s one place people wholly abide by the rules to begin with, it’s the movie theater. We never talk, we never sneak in snacks, and we definitely turn off our phones, just like the cartoon tells us to. The practical effects of such a decision would be negligible, but the effects on our national psyche would be immeasurable.
At this point in America’s history, we are surrounded by rules and regulations. We’re told how fast we can drive, what sort of snacks we can send to our kids’ school, even how many squirrels we can legally kill. There are rules at work, rules at home, and rules in public spaces regarding highly personal decisions like whether or not to wear pants.
As a result, we learn that our only recourse is to break the rules. We don’t fear Big Brother so much as we get annoyed by him; he’s everywhere, but he’s also too busy to really pay attention. Except when it comes to the small stuff. We sweat the small stuff, despite the guy who wrote that self-help book who told us not to sweat the small stuff.
How do we sweat it? By haranguing our fellow man. If we’re going to be subjected to a morass of rules and regulations everywhere we go, then so should they, by God. And if Big Brother is too busy to catch them breaking those rules and regulations, then we’ll do the job for him.
Now, doing that job does require some decorum and we really shouldn’t make it our goal to disrupt people’s enjoyment when out in public, unless they demand we put on pants. When Williamson tossed that woman’s phone, it was a righteous act. He was not acting as an agent of Big Brother, but displaying heroism and good judgment.
The theater, though, is no theatre. People are on call, screens can be dimmed, the babysitter may not know which child is allowed to juggle cobras and which one sleeps on a bed of maple leaves in the wooded patch next to the front yard. Life moves on, even as we are riveted by the latest reboot or sequel of a reboot, and technology hath provided communication tools to keep it moving.
That’s not what’s really important, though. By openly allowing texting, AMC can chip away at one layer of rules and regulations. It can turn a leisure activity into one with fewer limitations and free paying customers from the role of little Big Brother, if only for a few hours.
Sure, some will abuse this freedom, but it is not up to us to limit freedom for all because some would abuse it. If AMC truly believes in Mom, America, and apple pie, then it has no choice. It must ignore the naysayers, those nattering nabobs who would seek to limit freedom for the sake of order, and go through with its proposed change.
Free the cell phones, free the citizens, and give us a taste of freedom so that we might demand more. Use your strength, o theater chain, to help us reclaim liberté, égalité, et fraternité. The power is yours, use it for good.