by Adam Riske
For this week’s Riske Business column, I want to go back to the beginning – the first Riske Business piece I wrote called “A Pep Talk to the Frustrated Moviegoer.” The reason being is that something in me has broken as a filmgoer and I want to repair it. I’m a person who loves movies that now hates almost everything about going to the movies. In my heart I know that if I had the option of seeing any movie in theaters or watching it at home, I would choose the latter each and every time. This fact made me sad. Where does that leave me in terms of writing for a movie blog? (I.E. Am I just going to be writing about old shit?) Can I consider myself a dedicated film fan anymore or am I past my prime and relevancy? What will be my new hobby if I’m not going to the movies anymore? Surely, I can’t stay at home all the time watching movies that way…
On my second attempt to see Captain America: Civil War, I went to a theater nearby my home which (to my surprise) recently decided to adopt the horrible concept of assigned seating in their theaters. I got to the movie 30 minutes early and my heart immediately sunk when I saw that my assigned seat was about five away from a group of teenage boys. I like to think of myself as a non-discriminatory person but I know (having been one) that a group of teenage boys are more likely than not to misbehave and or be annoying during a movie. To their credit, not all of them were acting up but some were and it sucked because I had an assigned seat and theoretically couldn’t just move away from them in the theater. If the theater had open seating, I sure as shit wouldn’t have chosen to sit in the same row as these kids. So, I dealt with it and sit in my seat and stewed until another gentleman showed up (also by himself) and sat right next to me in his assigned seat in a theater full of other empty seats. I wasn’t on board with this. Fuck assigned seating!
The third time was almost not the charm seeing Captain America: Civil War. I went to see it at the big megaplex nearby because I figured surely with 500+ seats I would have room to stretch out and it had open seating, so if I was by talkers I could move, right? Well, it was almost not meant to be. I got there 30 minutes early (again) and sat down. Everything was fine until the theater filled to capacity and I found myself sitting next to what was probably a 10-year old boy. No big deal, but this kid was FREAKING OUT. His dad left him to go get popcorn and once his dad left he started to profusely cry and every once in a while say things like “DADDDDDDYYYYYY!!!!! HURRY!!!!!WHERE ARE YOU?!!!!!” The child seemed to have emotional issues so I don’t want to pick on him, but at the same time I just want to watch fucking Civil War. He’s not my child. I don’t want to deal with this shit. So I found a new seat (near the front of the theater….ugh!) and switched seats. There I sat and watched the entire movie in peace and quiet. Am I a heartless dick? Probably, but I need my moviegoing experience to be the way I want it to be and that’s getting more and more difficult for me.
I’m part of the problem too. I can’t stop looking at my phone. This is a recent development but I simply have to look at my phone. I resisted getting a smartphone forever (my friends and family can attest to this) because I didn’t want to become a phone zombie, but six months into having one, I certainly have become one. If I have a millisecond where I’m bored or have dead air, I’m looking at my stupid fucking phone and it’s killed my attention span, especially when seeing a movie in a theater. This was becoming a real problem. To my credit, I’ll go out of sight of the audience (in the doorway or out in the hall) to check my texts, Facebook, Twitter, etc. but I never used to have to do this pre-smartphone era. Something in me broke. I care more about what’s happening on social media than I do about the actual movie I’m watching in most cases.