Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Manifesto on the Criminality of Bringing Small Children to Movies Where They Do not Belong nor Are Wanted

Celluloid comrades and lovers of cinema, greetings! Those of us who are serious watchers of film are not usually given to the kinds of passions we observe on the screens before us. We are not often drawn to the physical anger of Brad Pitt in Fight Club, the zealous revenge of Glenn Close in Fatal Instinct, or the histrionics of Samuel L. Jackson in every movie he graces. By our very natures as shadowy, seated theatergoers, we tend to be observers of life’s folly, rather than its participants.

But there comes a time when action is demanded of us, when conflict buys a ticket to our own personal drama and wants—nay, demands!—resolution. That time is when the most clueless, malignant, selfish, and treacherous of humankind bring their spawn to movies where they do not belong.

Do not avert your eyes from these words! Do not pretend to not notice the truth before you, tapping at your leg and sticking its tiny mucous-stained hand into your popcorn. For you know of which I speak. You remember the time you were watching Pulp Fiction, seeing the climactic confrontation of Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, and The Gimp. You were on the edge of your seat, breathless for the next line, the next action, when next to you, a loud cry emerged, smashing through the Fourth Wall with the force of a wrecking ball: MOMMY, WHY IS THAT MAN WEARING A MASK?

It is a sad spectacle, one that has spun off many sequels, each more horrid than the last. A baby crying over a Will Ferrell punchline in Old School. Two two-year old doing his seat-standing interpretation of Spider-Man. Or the Milk Dud-sucking, syllable-spewing toddler distracting you from critical breast shots in The Wedding Crashers.

And what is our reaction? Harrumphs? Stern looks? Maybe, at our boldest, a hissing “shhhh”? Against the dense, iron skulls of these parents, such civil reactions are akin to hurling stones at the Tripods from War of the Worlds. The time for politeness is over. The system has failed us, and it is only by extreme actions that we can overcome such colossal manifestations of poor judgment. I call you to arms in the following situations:

  • The crying baby in any movie—Rather than expel a breath of disgust, stand up! Better to take revenge on your feet than complain from your seat. Move next to the parent of said child, and begin sobbing on their shoulder, squealing and crying until they leave.
  • The child asking questions during the adult drama—Do not sit in stony silence, pretending to ignore the queries banging on your eardrums. Instead, ask your own questions of the parent: Did you fail to make it to the letter R when you learned your ABCs? Why did the state not sterilize you? How will you repay each of us in the theater $7.50 plus compensation for mental cruelty because we had to listen to helium-voiced questions from a child that could not follow a Pokemon movie, let alone The Bourne Identity?
  • The child frightened by explosions in an adult action movie—If the cries of terror from the orange fireballs and rumbling subwoofers do not wake the sensibilities of the attending parent, then keep up the campaign of psychological carpet bombing. Maneuver behind the child and repeatedly yell “BOOM” as loud as possible, until the child flees in terror, forcing the parent to follow.
  • The child frightened by death and disfigurement in an adult horror movie—Follow the same steps as the action movie, but replace “BOOM” with “BOO!”
  • The child in a movie for children and adults, but during a show time that is clearly meant for adults—A small child’s presence at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory makes sense at 3:00 p.m. It does not at 10:00 p.m. Here, revenge is dish best served sweet. Help the children in their quest to stay awake by covertly feeding them enough Skittles to keep them (and, subsequently, their parents) sleepless for a week.
  • The child who ventures to your aisle seat and asks for candy—Escort the child away from their uncaring parents and offer him or her to a nice stranger who does have candy.

Will these actions change the fiendishly unaware behavior of the parental units who so blindly ignore the misery their offspring inflict on fellow moviegoers? The certainty of that I cannot write. But at the very least, my oppressed brethren, I promise you that these actions will free both of your hands to fight the drooling golem of inappropriate movie attendance by children.

To borrow from the stirring speech of Bill Pullman in Independence Day, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!” And we will not rest until your children are out of our sight!

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