Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Madonna is banned from cinema chain for texting

Is texting in the movies a bad thing? Yes, obviously. What kind of a monster are you?

Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 23:01


We should first clarify that the banning is a bit of a stunt. Ms Ciccone was, indeed, caught using her phone during — of all things — a New York premiere of 12 Years a Slave. When somebody asked her to stop, she is alleged to have replied “It’s for business, enslaver” and is said to have continued hammering the buttons. I say “alleged” because it just sounds like such an extraordinarily strange thing for somebody to say in that environment. You are watching a film about real slavery and you accuse somebody of enslaving you for asking you to have some bleeding manners. Could she really be that precious? I chose to mistrust this bit of the story.

Anyway, the tale prompted Texas’s Alamo Drafthouse — which has an admirably strict policy in this area — to impose a ban on Madonna. If she wishes to see Big Mama’s House 4 in Austin then she will be forced to seek another cinema chain. “Until she apologizes to movie fans, Madonna is banned from watching movies,” Drafthouse’s CEO Tweeted. Quite right too.

What’s the problem with texting? Oh for goodness sake. Scribbling about film over the past decade and a half, I have often been impressed by the division between civilised people’s views on such matters and the opinions of the popcorn-shovelling, phone-answering, incessantly chattering pigs who take up space in most cinemas. Write a column on bad behaviour in cinemas and (rather reassuringly) you are guaranteed many, many digital mailbags of approving responses. Good people seem rightly sick of morons talking in the bloody film. Who are these people? “What’s that say there? ‘London, 1898?’ Who’s the man with the big hat? Oh, he looks like yer one in the dry cleaners.” Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

I suppose texting is a little less annoying than talking. But the gleaming light and the flying fingers are still distracting. Worst of all is the nagging awareness that you’re sharing public space with this class of sociopath. You might think that those of us lucky enough to attend press screenings rarely have to put up with this crap. You would not be entirely correct. In recent weeks, the critical “community” has been fired with fury by some bloody newcomer who has taken to writing notes on her f***ing laptop during the movies. Why not just let off fireworks in the screening, madam? Why not play the trombone? I am told that she has been spoken to. Maybe she’s reading this. If so, she should be aware that I have passed her name onto the people at the Alamo Drafthouse. That’ll teach her.