I’m a notoriously awful movie reviewer. Maybe “awful” is the wrong word; I’m notoriously lenient with my reviews. That is to say, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to see a particular movie, but deep down in your soul know that you’re really just looking for a nudge forward, come talk to ya boy. My reviews are positive, roughly, 95% of the time. I’ve been chastised in the past for this – a friend will attempt to convince me that it’s an ailment of some kind; but really, they’re just mad because they want someone to help curate their ‘to-watch’ list and I can’t be trusted. That’s your journey, friend. That’s not my burden to shoulder; it’s all positive on my end. Do you know what it’s like to regularly go into a movie theater with a 95% chance of being satisfied? Do you know what kind of confidence that gives me? Every time… EVERY goddamn time I make my way to my designated theater, ticket in hand, I’m bouncing down that disgusting carpet, full-grin, dancing and pirouetting past other patrons who just finished watching some bullshit, like shiny-suit Puff in the ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’ video. Not even the pointed soulless contempt of the teenage concessions zombie can thwart my high. I’m way up (in my Drake voice)!
Here’s my secret: I have the ability to go into every movie-watching experience with childlike wonder, completely devoid of preconceptions. I forget what I saw in the trailer, I forget what genre the movie is, I forget which actors are in it. Hell, I try my best to forget what an actor is. I completely detach myself from reality to the point where I’m no longer sitting in a movie theater watching a screen. I’m a spectator in Oz (or the Matrix or whatever). If you can achieve this, everything you see is a surprise and the experience becomes less of an active interpretation of scenes and more about how each scene makes you feel. So, when I enjoy a movie that doesn’t necessarily mean I thought it was a good movie, just that I was able to appreciate how the actors’ portrayals and the director’s vision came to life – the dialogue, the effects, the composition as a whole. Either that or I just make myself dumb enough to appreciate something mindless – whichever the case may be. It’s pretty dope.
…that is, until people try to interject themselves into my movie-watching experience.
Listen, I know going to the movies feels like a social event because you’re surrounded by tens of other people, eating snacks together. Well it isn’t. Shut your stupid mouth and watch the movie. To you folks who are starting to get defensive right about now, I realize there are just as many contradictory opinions to this as supporting ones but this isn’t your space, homie. Feel free to get on your own blog and we can battle, but while you’re here in my home, we’re going to talk about you shutting up, k?
Firstly, you’re not funny. You’re not funny or witty or cute. And even when you are, please sit your ass down and shut your face hole. What compels you people to attempt to make your stand-up comedy debuts while I’m trying to focus on this movie? I know you’ve done it before and people have laughed and that shit is intoxicating and addicting, but they’re not laughing at your stupid one-liner. They’re laughing because that shit is awkward and there are a lot of nice people out there who want you to feel good about yourself – who don’t want to leave you out there on that island. I’ll even chalk one outburst up to early-onset Tourette Syndrome and grant you a pass, but if that one empowers you or anyone else to do that shit again, may you be hit by a bus in the lobby on your way out. And don’t give me that ‘reflex’ bullshit like you didn’t mean to. A gasp or a laugh, or even a scream is the sign of a well-executed scene and your involuntary reaction is just due applause to the artists. But once you start stringing words and sentences together you’re just doing too much.
Or maybe you’re just scared. Perhaps it’s a horror flick and that demonic clown came from out of nowhere and made you jump and you peed a little but you’re a gangsta and can’t let your pride take that hit. Don’t worry about that, my G; happens to the best of us. Don’t be embarrassed about it. And I can empathize as well. I learned to control my fear of scary movies using the same defense mechanism. When I was a kid, my mom let me yell profanities at Freddy Kruger until he didn’t scare me anymore. But we’re adults now. If a movie scares you, you just have to take that “L” and keep it moving. Don’t lean on the rest of us to hold you up. Either scream like a bitch, which is a perfectly acceptable reaction to being scared, or kindly show yourself out.
It’s not just the lonely strangers I’m talking about either. Friends of mine whom I attend movies with are stepping all over the line as well. If you’re my friend and have attempted to talk to me more than once while the movie is on, you’re likely familiar with my trademark half-smile, quarter-head-turn, no eye contact, didn’t quite catch what you said but feel free to not repeat yourself, maneuver. I love you so much and truly value our friendship. These years of companionship and strength you’ve provided me are invaluable. But kindly keep all of what you’re trying to tell me/ask me to your damn self until the lights come on. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know who that is or why he did that. I didn’t hear what he said either. I definitely don’t know what I think is going to happen next. Didn’t I just tell you that I’m fully immersed in this bitch?
You’re playing a dangerous game, my friend. Do you know how many people I’ve shushed in a movie theater – strangers and loved ones alike? My shush game is impeccable. I’m off the hip like Doc Holiday with these shits, B. I don’t want you to have to fall victim to that.
Also, I want you to enjoy this movie just as much as I am, 95% of the time, so we can geek out about it afterwards. I think that people too often make the mistake of trying to figure out the movie while they’re watching it – to predict what is going to happen next, who’s going to do it, and/or how it’s going to end, and my question is: why the fuck would you want to do that? Didn’t we both just spend money to watch this thing play out? If all is going well, during every second of this movie, I’m completely oblivious to what is going to happen in the next second. So, God have mercy on those who try to hurl their predictions at my ear while I’m in focus-mode ‘cause it’s about to be a shush bloodbath in this piece.
And lastly, I realize I’m bucking the stereotype. As a black guy, I’m supposed to be the one yelling at the screen all animated and stupid-like. And frankly… can I be honest? I’mma be honest… there’s some truth to that stereotype. Yeah, I said it so you don’t have to – I’m going to carry that cross. Call me what you will. But it’s also folks who can’t shut up in general, youngins, attention-seekers, and the generally discourteous. Here’s my main point: just give a try to being quiet start to finish. Try to unburden yourself of thought and of the element of self-consciousness that compels you to speak out. Fully immerse yourself in the experience and you may find that you’re getting more than your money’s worth a larger percentage of the time.
Nope – that’s not my main point. My main point is for you to please, please, please shut up. Please.