Posts Tagged ‘theater


STFU during the movie. but in a nice way…

I was going to respond to a question a friend asked me over IM a few weeks ago as my first post under advice, but as I’ve already received a question from a reader via the comments in this blog, I think I’ll address it now.

Reader L.B. asks:

“How do I tell my husband that while I enjoy watching historical documentaries with him, sometimes I really wish he would just stfu so I can watch the show and we can talk about it later? In a nice way, of course.”

Dear L.B.,

He's judging you.

Shepherd Book is always right.

I’d like to start by quoting from a very important religious figure in my life:

Shepherd Book: [to Mal] If you take sexual advantage of her, you’re going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theater. (Firefly, episode 1.3 “Our Mrs. Reynolds” 2002)

We’ve all sat through a movie with someone who just wouldn’t. shut. up. It sucks. You spend the whole time grinding your teeth, wincing whenever they speak, wanting to punch them in the arm.  It’s worse when they think they’re witty, but really they’re just sucking all the enjoyment out of the film/show/poetry reading for you by interrupting. It’s especially hard when the person is your date or significant other or new friend. How do you politely ask them to keep their effing mouths shut while you try to enjoy this film?  Book’s right: these people will probably go to hell. I like to expand his meaning from “people who talk at the [live] theater” to “people who talk [incessantly, during movies] at the theater” and even “people who come into the room in the middle of the TV show and ask you what’s going on or what something means during important plot moments”. Divine retribution will be mine. Someday.

Of course, I talk during movies. Sometimes. I try to keep it to a dull roar, and only with people I really know well. But sometimes I can’t help it. Sometimes I just have to say my witty retort to whatever the character just said. Or share an inside joke with my movie partner. So why is that okay in my head?

It ends up that talking during movies can be a bonding activity. Sharing your inner thoughts is a very intimate thing to do no matter where you are, and watching TV shows or movies or historical documentaries is a rare moment when you tend to be sharing a moment of entertainment with someone at exactly the same time. This doesn’t happen in other entertainment moments – reading a book or a blog article, say. There’s no way you’re reading the article at the exact same speed as the person looking over your shoulder, unless you’re reading out loud. I think it’s perfectly natural for people to want to share their inner thoughts when watching movies or TV shows, especially with someone they like, and if you think about it, the fact that he’s talking to you during this time means that he’s telling you he likes you, in a way.

So treasure that for a moment.

Then, after you’ve considered his feelings and that this may be a way he feels he’s sharing intimacy with you, plan how you’re going to ask him to knock it the fuck off.

I’d suggest a conversation that goes like this:

“Honey, I love you. I love that we can watch historical documentaries together. I love that you have things to say about them. However, I personally prefer to keep my comments to myself during the shows and then talk about them afterward. Can we try that? It would make it much more enjoyable for me.”

If you really want to do something awesome, get him a little notebook and pen so he can jot down his funny thoughts when he gets them while you’re watching the shows together. That way, he gets an outlet for those thoughts when they come up, and he has a way to show them to you later so he doesn’t forget. Plus, giving people gifts is always a cute way to show you’re thinking of them (bonus!).

Just remember: he probably sees his chit chat as intimacy, so don’t just flat-out tell him he’s wrong and you hate it. It’s going to be hard for him to stop, too. Try to look at the funny, cute, witty things he says and enjoy those, rather than just seething for the time you can tell him to shut up. Remember: you can probably watch the documentary again later. Live moments with loved ones are not TiVo-able.

And if all else fails, you can claim Shepherd Book as your religious mentor in this case:

“Shepherd Book says not to talk during movies. And I believe him. Shhhhhh.”

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