The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”

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Excerpt from this article:

A few nights ago I saw Jack White in concert. It was a wonderful night, and a big part of that was due to a new rule he has imposed on all his tour dates: no phones.

The no-phones policy illuminated something about smartphone use that’s hard to see when it’s so ubiquitous: our phones drain the life out of a room. They give everyone a push-button way to completely disengage their mind from their surroundings, while their body remains in the room, only minimally aware of itself. Essentially, we all have a risk-free ripcord we can pull at the first pang of boredom or desire for novelty, and of course those pangs occur constantly.

Every time someone in a group of people deploys a screen, the whole group is affected. Each disengaged person in a crowd is like a little black hole, a dead zone for social energy, radiating a noticeable field of apathy towards the rest of the room and what’s happening there.

 

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Clash Of The Screens: Should Movie Theaters Allow Texting? AMC Says Maybe

The CEO of AMC Entertainment says he is considering allowing texting during some movie showings at AMC Theaters. A good thing? Our pop culture blogger and movie critic weigh in.The CEO of AMC Entertainment says he is considering allowing texting during some movie showings at AMC Theaters. A good thing? Our pop culture blogger and movie critic weigh in.Should texting be allowed at some movie screenings?

Excerpt from this article and be sure to listen to the short radio story that features the debate:

Texting at the movies is usually annoying and usually banned. But the CEO of the giant movie theater chain AMC says maybe it’s time to rethink that.

AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron floated a trial balloon in an interview with Variety at CinemaCon, a film industry trade convention, saying the chain has considered adding showings where using your cellphone will be allowed.

The reason?

“When you tell a 22-year-old to turn off the phone, don’t ruin the movie, they hear, please cut off your left arm above the elbow,” Aron told Variety. “You can’t tell a 22-year-old to turn off their cellphone. That’s not how they live their life.”

NPR’s pop culture blogger Linda Holmes and movie critic Bob Mondello weighed in. Bob adopted the curmudgeon role; Linda talked him down from the ledge.

See also this story about how movie theatre ushers in China shine laserpointers at people who use their phone there.

Update: AMC Backs Down From Allowing Texting in Theatres: “We have heard loud and clear that this is a concept our audience does not want. In this age of social media, we get feedback from you almost instantaneously and, as such, we are constantly listening. Accordingly, just as instantaneously, this is an idea we have relegated to the cutting room floor.”

Update 2: Why the panic about texting in cinemas? Phones can breathe new life into old space

 

A New Weapon for Battling Cellphones in Theaters: Laser Beams

Ushers aiming lasers at a patron using a cellphone at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. Credit Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

Excerpt from this article:

Audience members using cellphones bedevil performers and presenters around the world. But in China, theaters and other venues have adopted what they say is an effective — others might say disturbing — solution.

Zap them with a laser beam.

The approach varies, but the idea is the same. During a performance, ushers equipped with laser pointers are stationed above, or on the perimeter of, the audience. When they spot a lighted mobile phone, instead of dashing over to the offender, they pounce with a pointer (usually red or green), aiming it at the glowing screen until the user desists.

Call it laser shaming.

Xu Chun, 27, who was in the audience for “Carmen” at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing last month, said: “Of course it’s distracting. But seeing lighted-up screens is even more distracting.”

This may be a response to a particularly acute problem here. Audience numbers have surged in recent years, along with the number of new performance spaces. And theatergoers are often noticeably younger than in the United States and Europe, with a corresponding lack of experience with Western-style concert etiquette. The lasers, theater managers say, are part of a larger effort to teach audiences how to behave during live performances.