Author of Time Rep and Note To Self

A guide to eating in the cinema

As you are probably aware from my post last week, I went to see The Martian recently, and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, if there was one thing that spoiled the experience slightly for me, it was the sound of people all around me eating and munching and chewing and slurping and rustling and gulping and crunching and chewing and eating and eating. Now, aside from the fact that any sensory stimulation whatsoever coming from the people within the cinema completely breaks the immersion (asides from emotional reactions to the film, such as laughing or screaming, which I’ll accept), this is a film about a guy having to ration potatoes and bread to stay alive, so having the sound of the guy two rows behind me munching through his Doritos wasn’t the most appropriate of things to be hearing in this film!

I’ve come to the conclusion that many people just don’t understand that when they go to the cinema, they are not sitting in their own private living room, and therefore they cannot behave however they please. They are sharing a space with other paying viewers, and have a duty to display a degree of self-awareness and behave appropriately. Now, Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo from Wittertainment already have a very good code of conduct here that details very specifically how one should behave in a cinema to ensures everyone enjoys the film. However, I would like to add my own thoughts to this, specifically around eating. Here are my rules:

  • Really, really think about not eating or drinking anything in the first place

This sounds radical I know. I mean, the cinema is all about eating a box of popcorn as big as yourself, right? It’s all about paying an insane amount of money for a Coke, isn’t it? Well, maybe for some people, but for me it’s about going to see a film. Is it really so unbearable not to eat or drink during the film? Is it really that hard to have something to eat beforehand so that you’re not munching during the film? Or heaven forbid, just waiting until the film is over before stuffing your face? I don’t think so.

To be honest, if I was ruler of the world and took a particular interest in the food policy of cinemas, that would be the only rule: No eating. However, I do appreciate this is a little heavy-handed, so for those people who absolutely have to eat something during a film, here are some additional guidelines:

  • Don’t bring your food into the cinema in a plastic bag…

Rustle rustle rustle. Rustle rustle. Rustle rustle rustle rustle rustle. Rustle. Russelrusslerusslerusslerusslerussle. This is the sound of someone hunting around for their Maltesers underneath the tins of beans, the loaf of bread, any everything else they’ve bought for later. If you need to carry your food into the cinema in a bag, make sure that bag is silent, like a nice Jute bag or something.

  • …and the same goes for packaging…

News Flash people – a bag of crisps is noisy. A chocolate wrapper is noisy. The foil you need to peel off of your tube of Fruit Pastilles is noisy. I know this sounds obvious, but it if was, then why do so many people fail to realise this?

  • …and the food itself

Here’s another thing that seems to be a surprise to some people – when you put something in your mouth that makes a noise when you bite into it (let’s say, a crisp), that noise does not stay within the confines of your mouth. Your mouth is not soundproof. You are not the only person able to hear the crunch of the crisp because you are hearing the sound coming from within your own head. Sound travels. Everyone else can hear it. So think about the food you are bringing into the cinema. Preferably, it should be silent food (like jelly babies, decanted into makeshift pouch constructed out of kitchen roll), but if it isn’t – if you really need to eat those salt and vinegar crisps – eat them quietly! Put one crisp at a time into your mouth, and suck on them until they silently disintegrate onto your tongue! Crisps taste better and last longer that way anyway, right?

  • Time your eating with events in the film to disguise the sounds you might make

Are you watching a crazy car chase with the sounds of screeching tires, car horns and explosions blasting in your ears? Then now is a great time to rip open that bag of Skittles as noisily as you like, stuff as many of those sugary pearls in your mouth as you can, and chew like crazy. At the same time, when you’re watching a quiet, tender moment between two characters, don’t take that as a green light to rummage through your Sainsbury’s bag for the Minstrels. Michael Bay films are perfect for the conscientious noisy eater, since on average there’s usually a large explosion every 45 seconds, so they can munch and rustle and chew as much as they like.

  • No-one wants to smell your food

Don’t you just love the smell of that pungent, artificial cheese they pour over the nachos you can buy in the cinema? Well, neither does anyone else, so don’t bring them in with you!

  • Think about people with allergies

Yummy, peanuts! Oh wait – the person with a nut allergy two rows down has had to leave the cinema because their skins gets unbearably itchy, even if they are exposed to the scent of nuts in the air. Oh well, never mind – at least you got to eat those peanuts! I mean, you couldn’t have possibly watched the film without those nuts, could you? They make the whole experience!

Anyway, that’s it! Do you think I’ve missed anything in terms of guidance for eating in cinemas? Let me know in the comments section!

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One response

  1. All excellent points and a topic that increasingly drives me to distraction in cinemas. Once the film start there should simply be silence and that’s it. Obviously not a message that has got to everyone but it only takes one or two people to munch on and think they are being quiet and they are not. Other are just brazenly rustling. It is not always younger people, sometime older couples are talking and commenting during the film. I think the cinemas should do more with their messaging but I guess it is not a priority as it brings revenue in.

    December 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

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