Walking Out of the Theater Mid-Movie & Not Feeling Bad about It

Thursday, January 25, 2018

We'd been planning it for awhile: A few friends I were going to see the 10pm showing of The Room at The Cedar Lee, a local indie theater, so that we'd have the background to see The Disaster Artist, for which James Franco (ew) just won a Golden Globe. 

I, for one, had never even heard of The Room. I had no idea it was a thing at all, much less a cult classic of a thing, despite the fact that it came out my freshman year of college. It's been widely panned & repeatedly named "the worst movie ever," & I was excited to give it a watch. I love me some terrible pop culture.

Before the show, eight of us met up at Boss Dog Brewing Co., a newish brewery on the East Side within walking distance of the theater. The food was decent enough but wildly overpriced; luckily, the beer & the company made up for it. 

The group split (only four of us headed to the show), & as we settled into our seats at the Cedar Lee, I remembered just how much I love going to the movies. I never seem to do it anymore, despite the fact that in my New Hampshire days, solo movie-going was one of my favorite activities. In fact, I think I only went to the movies one time in 2017!

We'd been told that this movie was a bit of a cult classic in the vein of Rock Horror Picture Show, but I'll be honest: I didn't believe it. Having never even heard of this one, I figured it couldn't be that popular. A stranger gave us plastic spoons upon our arrival - apparently some spoon-throwing occurs during the show - & before the lights went down, Mike whispered to me, "Do you think this is the kind of movie where people heckle?"

As soon as the credits started rolling, it became clear that it was. 

Every time actor/director Tommy Wiseau's name hit the screen, the crowd screamed - & it wasn't just during the credits. The audience yelled so loudly during the movie itself that we couldn't hear the (clearly terrible) dialogue, relying solely on the (clearly terrible) sex scenes to determine what was going on. But of course, the worst movie ever is unlikely to have an easy-to-follow plot, & so we just... had no idea what was happening, aside from some really bad acting.

More disturbingly, the crowd continued to yell some really vile things at the screen. There was a lot of "Slut!" & "Whore!" & "Tramp!" While the lead female character was, yes, of fairly loose sexuality, I was really uncomfortable with the sexual slurs being screamed throughout the theater. Heckling is one thing; misogynistic heckling is another.

The movie had been on for less than 15 minutes when I leaned over to Mike & asked if he wanted to leave; he said no. The movie had been on for less than 30 minutes when Mike leaned over to me & asked if I wanted to leave; I said yes. We apologized profusely to the other couple we were with, & then we ducked out, calling a Lyft before we'd even left the theater. 

The only thing we felt bad about was bailing on our friends & this long-planned evening. Otherwise? If I'm being being honest, we felt great about leaving. We got home before 11pm, & by the time the show got out, we'd already been home & in our pajamas for nearly an hour.

That night, we reclaimed our time

Society teaches us that there's little worse than being a quitter. We're taught we should push through, carry on, continue regardless of how it makes us feel or whether we're enjoying ourselves. It's why kids are pressured not to give up activities their parents have forced them into. It's the reason people have such guilt when they put down a book they aren't enjoying, even 100 pages in. 

When it comes to such trivial matters, though - in this case, a $7 movie ticket to sit through two hours of an agonizing experience, why bother? It's one thing to quit a job or a major project or something you have to do - but there are so many things that we have to do. Why force ourselves, in the rest of our time, to do things we don't want to do? 

If I watched The Room under different circumstances - maybe tipsy at a small gathering with friends - I bet I'd think it was hilarious. But I hated the experience of watching it in a public viewing, & I have zero guilt whatsoever about getting the hell out of there & doing something more enjoyable with that spare hour.

Have you ever walked out of a movie?

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