Sep 14, 2012

Invasion of the Hecklers

I'm grateful to live in a city that is large enough to accommodate repertory screenings on a regular basis, and I try to see an older film that interests me on a big screen whenever possible. However, there is one thing that drives me crazy: it's having to listen to the "commentary" from the hecklers in the audience.

Whether it's at Vagrancy Films, Trash Palace or anywhere else that screens older films on a regular basis, one must always contend with these idiots who treat the cinema like their own living room, and feel the need to share their Mystery Science Theater-like commentary with everybody else in the theatre. The problem, of course, is that, well, MST3K was clever and funny.

(In fact, when I saw the documentary Corman's World at the Bloor, I went to the balcony to sit because the "renovations" on the main floor made the screen too high and the chairs too small, but quickly went back downstairs to squeeze my not-so-big ass into the plastic chairs because I didn't want to listen to the hipsters in the balcony.)

The problem is more universal than just with the posers in Toronto. Witness Matt Zoller Seitz's posting today on the Press Play blog, in which he laments over a recent screening of the classic James Bond movie From Russia With Love, which was sabotaged by people chortling over outdated technology and values. The following quote, uttered by his friend at the screening, I think says it all:

“Why pay twelve bucks to see an old movie in a theater, then sit there the whole time and act superior to it?” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. If you act that way, you’re wasting your money. You’re not getting everything out of the movie. You’re not experiencing it".

One should try to see old favourites on a big screen whenever the opportunity presents itself, but is it any wonder people choose to sit home with a DVD or Netflix instead?

I've never understood this "holier than thou" attitude that pervades screenings of second-run or specialized fare. One assumes that in this modern age where everything is ironic, hipsters in the audience feel that they must exhibit their superiority over the material. And this is in an audience that is supposed to appreciate this marginalized fare?

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