Once cell phones became commonplace, the etiquette of their use evolved. One of the first decisions worldwide was that they are not to be used in a cinema while a movie is showing. It’s an obvious conclusion. Speaking during a film in progress is unavoidably distracting, especially since the offender is likely going to need to raise his or her voice to be heard over the sound of the film.  There are a couple of areas of contention regarding particulars, however:

First, some hold the opinion that non-verbal cell phone use is acceptable, such as texting, web browsing, etc. The core concern of distraction remains, this time visual instead of auditory. I therefore maintain that non-verbal phone use should be held to the same rules as verbal.

Second, the official start time of the film is up for debate. In many theatres, the film itself is preceded by commercials, then previews. Is it alright to chat on your phone or text a buddy while the Nissan commercial is on? What about during the ad for the thirty fifth “Resident Evil” movie? My (admittedly controversial) position is that “commercial time” cell use is OK, but “preview time” cell use is a gray area. An offender of the latter crime is to be “tsk tsked”, rather than carted out of the theatre, Alamo Drafthouse-style. I’m already paying to see the movie, I’m paying a huge premium for my snacks, and I didn’t hand over all that cash so that you could sell me something else. I’ll elaborate a bit on that in a later post, but I find it hard to fault someone who’s just trying to find distraction from the advertisements, while they wait for the subject of their interest to present itself.

Anyway, be courteous out there! Turn off your phones, share your popcorn, and don’t forget to “Like” comic strips to support fledgling cartoonists!