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This Is Not About Texting: A Story of Movies, Men and Violence

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by Sam Adams
January 14, 2014 10:56 AM
119 Comments
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Chad Oulson, center, was murdered in a Florida movie theater.

Chad Oulson, the 43-year-old father of a 3-year-old girl, was fatally shot by a 71-year-old retired police officer after a brief argument in Land O' Lakes, Florida yesterday. Oulson's wife, who threw her arm across her husband in a vain attempt to protect him, was also wounded. Those are the facts, as we currently know them.

That the argument between Oulson and Curtis Reeves, the man who murdered him, began when Reeves asked Oulson to stop using his cell phone during the previews of a screening of Lone Survivor has led some outlets to describe it as "an argument over texting," and the New York Times went so far as to link it to disputed reports that the AMC chain had considered adding texting-friendly rows or even screenings.

When the story broke yesterday, I sent the link out on Twitter, and a number of my colleagues did the same, mostly without comment. But a number of movie sites, including the one that employs me, picked up the story, and a few individuals took the opportunity to say things like, "Maybe it's time to consider allowing texting in theaters?" At Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeffrey Wells went so far as to say, Oulson "obviously didn’t deserve to die for texting, but you can’t say he didn’t at least flirt with the possibility of trouble by doing so."

As I see it, this is not a story about texting, and certainly not one that can responsibly or sensibly be tied into a larger debate about movie theater etiquette. It's a story about guns, and men, and violence.

It's true that the dispute between Oulson and Reeves apparently began over texting: Oulson was texting his 3-year-old. Reeves asked him to stop. Oulson refused. Reeves left the theater, apparently to look for a manager, and after failing, returned to his seat. And then the confrontation turned physical. According to witness Charles Cummings, Reeves and Oulson started arguing again almost immediately, and popcorn -- he's not sure by whom -- was thrown, at which point Reeves drew his .380 handgun and shot Oulson in the chest. Cummings, a Marine who saw combat in Vietnam, said that Oulson gurgled blood and said "I can't believe I've been shot" before he died.

A digression which I hope will eventually seem relevant: In December, I went to a neighborhood cultural center to see Carlos Reygadas' Post Tenebras Lux. I'd been waiting over a year to see the film in a theater and on 35mm, so I was excited for its only local screening, if a little wound up from the crunch of year-end assignments. There weren't many people there, perhaps two dozen, and with an audience that small -- and a director whose past films were so deliberately daunting -- you'd expect they compromised only the hardiest and most dedicated of cinephiles. But sure enough, a few people started to pull out their cellphones, and since no one else was doing it, I took it upon myself to ask them, politely but firmly, to stop. 

As I returned to my seat the second time, in something of a rush so as to minimize the distraction, my foot connected with the bottle of soda I'd left on the floor, which went skidding down the nearly empty row. I could see a figure sitting by the far aisle, and I could have gone over and apologized, but I thought I'd save that for after the film, and to be honest, I was ashamed of my clumsiness. So I sat back in my seat and turned my attention toward the screen, which is why I didn't see the soda bottle as it came whizzing back and hit me in the shoulder.

That, as they say, led to an argument. Most of what followed is a blur, although I know plenty of harsh words were exchanged. And then, dear reader, I shoved him. It was pretty pathetic, really, an impulsive, half-blind act that if my memory can be relied upon barely connected with its intended target, but the intent was clear: I wanted to start a fight -- or, more accurately, I felt one had been started, and I wasn't going to back away from it.

Fortunately, that was more or less that. The other man suggested we step outside, I told him in the most profane language I could muster that I had no interest in doing so, and I sat back down in a vain attempt to concentrate on the rest of the film. Needless to say, the screening was ruined, for me, and, quite probably, for everyone else. I'm not sure what I could realistically have done differently, apart from being less of a clumsy oaf, but I'm genuinely sorry for that.

Was texting a part of this confrontation? A little. Did it have anything do with it? Not really. Mostly it was about men and their overblown sense of entitlement, and about the fact that in spite of my liberal political views and generally shy demeanor, there's a part of me that's essentially a lizard. I should know better, and I usually do, but no matter how evolved I may fancy myself, a part of me is stubbornly stuck in the Stone Age. It doesn't matter how ill-equipped I am to follow through on those reptile-brain impulses, or how badly I'd fare were I to get in an actual fight -- and man, would that be a sad and shameful spectacle -- sometimes I see red and want nothing more than to beat the crap out of something.

This is what's known, popularly, as the urge to kill, which we mostly use in (partial) jest. But put a gun on someone's hip, and suddenly it's not a metaphor anymore. I'm not saying I would have shot that man, but I have no way of knowing whether he might have shot me. Curtis Reeves probably would have. And it wouldn't have had a damn thing to do with movies or texting or anything but what happens when you combine human nature and a deadly weapon. Chad Oulson's murder is a tragedy, and a terrible reflection on the state of our nation. But it reflects even more poorly on our culture that a man was shot dead in a public place, and instead of a gun, we blame his phone.

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119 Comments

  • Dave | February 18, 2014 4:12 PMReply

    I was acquainted with Chad Oulson when he still resided with his wife in Illinois. I'm sure he was a good father and had plenty of family and friends who loved him, but when I knew him he had a smart mouth and was an occasional antagonist. I never met his wife, but knew people who did, and stated that she was a nice woman.

    His character background doesn't make Oulson culpable for the violence of a belligerent who illegally totes a gun to a movie and then shoots someone who is irritating him. However, I was not surprised that Oulson, instead of moving away from the a**hole, antagonized the situation further, asking the guy if he reported him to theater management, then throwing popcorn at the guy. (I've heard that Oulson also started yelling at his killer, but don't know if that information is credible or rumor at this time. If it did happen, again I wouldn't be surprised.) He reasonably didn't have the expectation of being shot, but he shouldn't be been shocked if the old guy smacked him. I think he was irritated by an old guy complaining and, in his rather bullying mentality, thought he could mouth off to the man and get away with it. I'm wondering why the murderer felt the need to shoot someone who simply pissed him off, rather than changing seats. I'm wondering what Oulson was hoping to accomplish by smarting off - certainly he didn't expect to die for it.

    I was no fan of the guy, but it's sad his wife and child have to deal with the repercussions of two men who chose to up the ante. The murderer should be prosecuted to the fullest extent, but this is another warning for everyone to back off from petty confrontations, rather than encouraging them.

  • DAVE | March 19, 2014 11:00 AM

    To Ivan - hate to burst your little self satisfied bubble, but I never said I was a neighbor of his, and yes I knew him and some of his family around Mt. Sterling and Camp Point, IL. He attended BCHS and we're the same age. He lived in IL into his early twenties before he went into the military and moved to FL. There are several Olsens and Oulsens around the area - even the local papers have spelled the name variously, and it's not a big deal, unless you're a nitpicker.

  • Ivan | March 14, 2014 11:40 AM

    Why I agree that Chad was a d-bag who did this to himself, I don't believe your story of knowing him and being a neighbor when you can't SPELL HIS NAME RIGHT.

  • xavier | February 13, 2014 10:50 AMReply

    If the theater allows for cellphone use before a feature begins, it's not impolite, it's permissiable, and personally inferred rudeness is not cause enough for escalation to deadly violence/confrontation. You can say something is rude or inconsiderate but that is your personal judgement, and there are multiple nonlethal ways to deal besides letting your anger or fear or entitlement issues flow into your empowerment issues of gun usage. Saying the victim is the cause of his or her death or victimization seeks to shed too much of the blame for the person who inflicted the greater harm. It makes it open season to attack others, and then after the fact exclaim "I can't believe what I've done" after the fact.

  • MB | February 12, 2014 4:01 PMReply

    I hope the writer of this article doesn't have a concealed weapons permit. He sounds like an ass.

  • Kerri Sipper | February 7, 2014 5:05 PMReply

    The "victim" participated in his own shooting by simply refusing to be courteous. Once he was aware that his phone use was bothering someone, he should've excused himself from the theater and continued texting in the hallway, not argued that he was justified in being rude because of whom he was texting. It is only common courtesy, which too many people these days think does not apply to them. He would still be alive if he had simply been polite.

  • Ivan | March 14, 2014 11:40 AM

    Bingo!

  • Isabelle | February 7, 2014 6:30 PM

    @Kerri, I agree with you. No one deserves to be shot or even hit for texting. But "the victim," was being rude and when told he was being rude, he continued to be rude. And juvenile. Throwing popcorn was childish and stupid. This was a man who was over 6 feet tall, and I'm sure he was used to getting his way and doing as he pleased. If he was so desperate to text, he could have gone out to the lobby. His own lack of consideration for others led to his downfall.

    If you come from the road rage state of California, where people are routinely shot for not using their turn signal, you have more brains than to act like a jerk when someone asks you to stop texting in a theater. Just saying.

    And as for the author pointing out man's "overblown sense of entitlement," I think he meant the man with the gun. But I think the problem was the man with the phone, who thought he could do whatever he wanted, wherever he pleased. It was his sense of entitlement that led to the ultimate confrontation.

    We've all known that guy who had to have the last word, or make an unnecessary snarky remark, or just couldn't comply with a request without retaliating in some uncalled for manner. The victim strikes me as this kind of man.

  • Xavier | January 30, 2014 5:15 PMReply

    If you don't get the manager but do manage to bring a gun in the theater, you've escalated the threat to everybody in the theater, not provided a proper resolution. The theater is the authority, either make sure you get the manager or resolve to not create the possibility of fatalities, it's a jerk move to endanger the lives of others over someone texting before the features begins. Depending on the theater, texting, talking, loud eating is allowed up to the beginning of the feature film, with a spot running before alerting people to then please turn off cellphones, go out to the lobby with crying children, locate your exists, nothing about find your gun as if you've entered the range. And unless full to the brim, there are other seats away from the fatal light of a phone screen.

  • dave | July 19, 2014 2:08 PM

    I live in california, home of the gangbanger. I would never come to florida, your laws are fxxxxxd up, I will never visit, you people deserve one another, your mentality is total domination and entitlement a bunch of angry white gun toting males

  • Ivan | March 14, 2014 11:43 AM

    Why should the person who wasn't doing anything wrong, Curtis, have to move because of some d-bag, Chad, texting in a theater when he shouldn't be. It's about time someone stood up for what is right and shot this m-f thinking he can do whatever he wanted when ever he wanted to. I for one am glad he is dead. We live in a society and in that society you HAVE to be considerate of others. Chad thought he was above that simple fact and paid the ultimate price for it.

  • jdk47 | January 28, 2014 4:31 PMReply

    I know on the surface this sounds outrageous, but by all accounts I've read the "victim" was a class A jerk who refused to stop texting and then instigated and escalated the incident after the retired cop did the proper thing and went to the manager. I'm having a hard time having any sympathy for him.

    No, there was not sufficient fear of life for the retired cop to legally use deadly force, but if you're going to be a jerk and continue to incite things, don't be surprised if one day you find out you've incited a crazy person.

  • king crimson | January 27, 2014 12:33 PMReply

    Note: Next time you go to some disgusting Hollywood gun-fest, there may just be some sort of psycho freak sitting behind you packing heat. This is a natural outcome of going to celebrate killing afghani's in what is an extremely contestable war. It's a shame these people learned the hard way.

  • Dave | January 24, 2014 10:13 PMReply

    I don't own a gun But if I did I would blow the fuc-en head off every asshole on cell phones at the movies what the hell amater with pricks on cell phones in this theater shooting he was asked more than once shut the freaked phone case closed I would behave emptied the clip in him yaaaaaaa

  • steve | January 22, 2014 1:15 PMReply

    No, it's not about texting, and while it should be about the lunacy of being allowed to carry a gun everywhere, it's also about courtesy and civility. Neither man behaved properly. If we can all agree about the reckless stupidity of Reeves, where does that leave Olson? He's still dead. It can't be denied that if Olson had put the phone away, and not gotten into a heated argument with an old man, he'd still be alive. Why be an inconsiderate, confrontational jerk? You never know who you're going to come up against.

  • IvanLibya | January 22, 2014 4:12 PM

    One mad did act with civility, Reeves. He politely asked Oulos to put his phone away, but the problem is people are/were raised with this sense of self entitlement, thinking they can do whatever they want, whenever they want to. If you're caught doing something wrong, like Oulson, the right thing to have done was say sorry, and put the damn phone away. But being the self entitled dbag he was, he felt the need to keep doing it and confront someone who was just trying to enjoy their film. That is the problem, people not thinking of society, only about what they want, not giving a fck about how it effects anyone else.

  • Anonymous | January 22, 2014 10:51 AMReply

    "I'm not sure what I could realistically have done differently . . . ."

    You could have apologized. Or you mean to say an apology is unrealistic? If that's so--then the Florida shooting is not a surprise, is it?

  • Camel Toe | January 21, 2014 3:52 PMReply

    Imagine a camel, used to transport straw. It's a strong camel, for many years it's carried heavy loads of straw.

    But one day, a man gets greedy, gets inconsiderate, wants more than he should, doesn't care about the camel or it's back - and the man puts more and more and more straw on the back of the camel.

    The camel tries mightily to keep standing, but it can only support so much - only so much.

    And snap - the break happens.

    Would you blame the camel for the breakage?! Would you arrest it, lock it up, give it no chance for bail? All the while calling the man 'poor poor man,' 'poor poor family of the man.' Such a pity.

    A camel (man) can bear only so much - if later today I do something inconsiderate to someone and they go ballistic, it's just common sense to assume there's more going on under the surface of that person.

    Just be considerate. Choose not to be and suffer the consequences.

    Don't overwhelm, as we never know which lightweight piece of straw will actually be the one that breaks the camel's back.

  • IvanLibya | January 22, 2014 4:14 PM

    Love it!

  • Mel Holden | January 21, 2014 3:37 PMReply

    I am female, and the following happened about two years ago when I was in my early 50s. I was in a movie theatre in Anchorage, theatre was full. Movie starts, and I hear a cell phone ringing, belonging to the woman sitting on my left. I felt my blood pressure immediately rise, especially annoyed that she hadn't heeded the message on the screen just before the movie started, to not use cell phones during the movie. She talked a little, then put her phone away. I hoped she'd just forgotten to turn it off, hoped she felt bad about disturbing others, and now had it off.

    Nope.

    A little while later it rings again, she takes it off, starts talking quietly but definitely loud enough to be heard, and I hiss at her 'TURN YOUR PHONE OFF!!!!!' She just looks at me, like I'm an annoying bug she's considering squishing. She then says 'It IS off' and I'm confused why she'd say that, and honest to God, I did not think about it before doing it, but I lightly elbowed her, it just happened. It not at all hard, just a slight nudge, but that certainly raised her ire. She said 'Don't you elbow me!'

    At that point, despite my film going experience pretty much ruined, I was a little happier. After making me unhappy, now she was unhappy - good! I go back to watching the screen, she sits there staring at me, then gets up and leaves.

    I'm a little anxious, thinking management will be coming to deal with me, but try to ignore it and go back to losing myself in the movie I'd paid good money to see.

    Soon she returns with a guy, who asks me to step out of the theatre - I say I don't want to - mention that her repeated cell phone usage has caused me to miss too much of the movie already. He keeps insisting, and for the benefit of those seated around us who are being disturbed, I go out with him. Meanwhile she returns to her seat (!?) He explains he can't have people hitting other customers, and I try to explain the entire story, including the parts she'd likely left out. He just cuts me off - and says I need to leave. I insist she be made to leave also, he doesn't seem to be concerned about her. I think about just walking back into the theatre, to the seat I paid for. But know it'd likely cause further distraction for the other patrons, so I leave.

    Meanwhile I doubt she's stopped using her phones during movies - and bet she felt so vindicated at how she was treated. Meanwhile I get angry just thinking about it.

    I used to go to the movies about once a month, now it's a couple of times a year, and almost every time I see a couple of people using their phones, the light and ringing or talking reminding me I'm sitting in a movie theatre rather than being lost in the story.

  • bpigati | January 18, 2014 3:27 PMReply

    pointless article... wow, you're "macho" enough to not back down from a fight, big deal. If someone throws a pop bottle at you in a theatre, you go to the front desk, and have that person removed from the theatre.
    The real issue is the fact that the United States allows civilians to wander around in public with concealed firearms and it's becoming obvious with news stories like this that are society cannot handle the responsablilty of using lethal force and it needs to be reformed. This story has already been twisted by proponents of the NRA lobby that is about texting, on that topic, you were correct, but the reality is that we live in a society and have to tolerate annoying things when we leave our homes. Bringing guns with us is inviting more violence to others, not protecting us. There are VERY few stories about public heroes "saving the day", and more and more like this, mentally unstable people executing unarmed people.

  • IvanLibya | January 22, 2014 4:19 PM

    No, that's where you're wrong. This self entitled attitude thinking we HAVE to deal with annoying people is wrong. You were right to say we live in a society, and in a functional one, you HAVE to take other people into consideration and not just your own wants. The fact this douche, confronts a 71 old man for having been asked to put his phone away in a theater, which he should have already done, is the issue.

  • ken verlaque | January 17, 2014 10:20 PMReply

    You are an ass . You said it yourself that when your foot hit the bottle that you stupidly left on the floor and it hit someone else that you were GONNA APLOIGIZE but you decided to wait till later . Wait till later ???? No you didn't give a shit . Thats why the bottle came flying back at you . What a dumbass . But people like you will never believe that they did anything wrong , will you . Lucky for you someone didn't shoot you for your rudeness , I would have !

  • xavier | January 17, 2014 1:21 PMReply

    Some of you say none of this would have happened if A or B was done, but maybe, while speculating on what could have been, maybe it would have happened anyway. Maybe the roles could have been reversed and the gentleman with the gun would have not liked to have been told to not do something, and being empowered by his gun, would have escalated his superiority. What ifs are okay but not relevant, the facts of the matter are. Some theaters allow phone usage, talking, and eating before a movie begins, and have messages that ask people to silence their phones and kids right before the movie begins, as well as encouraging you to go out to the lobby to buy some food.

  • chase | January 16, 2014 1:37 PMReply

    Duh, blame the man not an inanimate object. What are you alluding to by blaming guns for actions taken by men? Are you one of those big government cheerleaders begging for more regulation and a more powerful central government to save us from ourselves?

  • Maney | January 16, 2014 11:25 AMReply

    Wrong. It's a story about poor manners and self-entitlement complexes. See what happens when we all think we can break rules? Rules are for EVERYBODY. You feel the need to text in a movie theater or similar environment where same is FORBIDDEN? Maybe you should see a doctor. Could be that you have ADHD. "Normal" people are quite capable of focusing their attention on one thing. And, not disturbing others with their own selfish pursuits.

  • Afterthoughts | January 16, 2014 11:17 AMReply

    Dear Catherine,
    Again, I must apologize, I try responding directly to comments, but it says, "page is not found." So I will have to respond in normal comments, and hope you are able to see my response. I just wanted to thank you got pointing that out, that really makes sense, also I learned they don't count accidental deaths as homicides. As I mentioned in my first response, I found my information from the United Nations, while reliable, I didn't think of it the way you did, and the with your knowledge of statistics.
    Thanks again for enlightening me, and for being kind, and polite,
    Afterthoughts

  • James | January 16, 2014 9:50 AMReply

    No one has pointed out yet that we don't have the whole story here. Unless, you were sitting next to these people, all you are reading is guesses about what really happened. The reality is WE DON'T KNOW. We know someone lost their life but we don't have a clue about why.

  • ceeli | February 21, 2014 5:48 AM

    Watch the security tape that is now online. The video CLEARLY shows d-bag Oulson turn around and grab Reeves' popcorn and throw it at his face. The bully finally met his match... don't bring popcorn to a gunfight.

  • Ken | January 16, 2014 7:43 AMReply

    This is another senseless death in a Stand Your Ground state. Newspapers have reported anecdotal evidence of an increase in incidents like this one in Florida. SYG is a bad policy that turns altercations into life-and-death situations. As JUSTANOTHERGUY stated, the retired police office should have know about applicable laws.

  • Saira | January 16, 2014 3:33 AMReply

    My dad is a retired military officer. I once asked him why he didn't keep a gun like most of his other friends in the army. He said, knowing his temper he would use it and that's why he refused to keep one.

  • Ben | January 15, 2014 6:56 PMReply

    "I'm not sure what I could realistically have done differently..." In hindsight it probably would have been prudent to go over and apologize immediately. As for the blame... how about the guy that shot him? Neither guns nor phones act of their own volition.

  • PJW | January 15, 2014 6:19 PMReply

    Texting made the old man angry. "Texting" is not the issue. Being irritated by someone elses behavior is the issue. It could be talking, crinkling candy wrappers, standing up to go to the bathroom frequently, smelling of smoke, having an irritating laugh or laughing inappropriately and so forth. Shooting someone to death and wrecking a family over an irritating behavior is simply evil. The old man reeks of entitlement and arrogance. Send him away for ever! irritating someone and killing someone are not the same.

  • MH | January 21, 2014 3:41 PM

    It's evil to not care that your behaviors irk others.
    Texting is certainly part of the issue, I will NEVER be shot for texting in a darkened theatre because I never would do that, it's rude.
    I am 100% certain the shooter, like me, has experienced this irritating issue time and time and time again, and like a straw that breaks a camel's back - this was the last straw.

  • Rain | January 15, 2014 4:50 PMReply

    Everyone pointing out Chad shouldn't have been on his phone during PREVIEWS of the movie because its a policy, is failing to point out this particular theatre also had a posted "no weapons" policy. In my opinion, Curtis Reeves was being much more inconsiderate of other people and the policies when he brought his gun into the movie. There is a lot more going on during previews than people texting. People are talking, opening candy bags, moving around, etc. Any movie I have been to the reminder to turn off your cellphone comes right after the previews, just before the movie starts. Seriously though, how can texting during previews be so much worse than ignoring posted requests to leave the guns and knives at home?

  • ceeli | February 21, 2014 5:51 AM

    Since the movie hadn't started yet the d-bag BULLY should have gone out to the lobby to text.

  • Steve | January 15, 2014 3:52 PMReply

    Everyone that text during a movie has a good reason of their own as to why,if everyone in the theater had a good reason at the same time would that be OK? No would be the correct answer.This country has lost all sense of common courtesy. In a theater it's simple,be quite,shut of cell phones and keep your feet off the seat in front of you.

  • MickyTheKnife | January 15, 2014 1:38 PMReply

    I appreciate the personal angle behind Sam Adam's point. It's too easy to externalize opinions, and he took a chance by outing himself as culpable. I wonder what inspires someone to even throw popcorn, or a bottle, at someone. Taking a step away, one can imagine every other possible thing to do to find a way to satisfy something as luxurious as entertainment needs. I could write a list of alternative outcomes, as I'm sure most anyone who values public / communal shared experiences. The entire exchange, along with the tunnel vision as far as possible actions, is indulgent. Public accountability is the only thing that keeps us from total chaos.

  • Gary | January 15, 2014 1:14 PMReply

    for me, its another story about the enforcers. the police are being armed more and more heavily and are faster to use deadly force. The retired Captain was not used to being told "no" he could not handle it...and why should he? he was trained to use deadly force, to command others to do so and our society increasingly gives people like him passes for killing the non-compliant

  • edna buford | January 15, 2014 4:48 PM

    amen.

  • Afterthoughts | January 15, 2014 12:04 PMReply

    Dear Baffur,

    I tried responding to your question directly, but the page won't load. The most accurate data accepted by all countries as factual is undoc.org it's the 2013 survey and report from the United Nations. The easiest to see, and understand is Wikipedia's murder by country color graph, found by searching google; murder rate by capita by country. The United States is 1-2 per 100,000 almost all developed countries are 0-1, or 1-2. Ironically if you take out Chicago, L.A., Detroit, and Miami, we fall below the norm. The cities with the MOST gun crime, also have the Most gun regulation. Implying bully's (criminals, gangsta's) don't fear retribution by fire, so they are more brazen. At any rate, the most shocking, if you took away accidental gun deaths, we would be far below the norm. I hope this sheds insight, and understanding.

    Thanks for being so polite,
    Afterthoughts

  • JP | March 13, 2014 1:31 AM

    The US homicide rate isn't between 1 and 2 per 100,000, it's 4.6. If you took out Chicago, LA, Detroit and Miami, it would still be over 4, and around 300% higher than other developed countries in Europe and Australasia.

    Taking away accidental deaths would have no effect, because accidental deaths are not included in the homicide rate in the first place. In any case, accidental deaths are also about 4 times higher in the US than other developed countries.

    It doesn't matter how hard you massage the figures, the US is not now, and never has been, below the norm for gun deaths. Or even close.

  • Catherine | January 15, 2014 5:47 PM

    AFTERTHOUGHTS, with respect and apologies for jumping into the middle of your response to Baffur, I can see two flaws in your logic:
    " Ironically if you take out Chicago, L.A., Detroit, and Miami, we fall below the norm. The cities with the MOST gun crime, also have the Most gun regulation. Implying bully's (criminals, gangsta's) don't fear retribution by fire, so they are more brazen"
    1) It more likely implies that the surrounding areas without much gun regulation enable those who are restricted in those four cities to go to another state and get them far too easily. And:
    " At any rate, the most shocking, if you took away accidental gun deaths, we would be far below the norm"
    2) You fail to show why you would lower your accounting by removing accidental gun deaths from your tally but don't also lower them for the other countries you are comparing them to. In other words, if the other countries took away their accidental gun deaths the rate would still be similar to the original conclusion and you would still have a higher norm.

    Similarly, statistics can be tricky between countries. For ex. the violent crime rates for the U.K would have it seem like the U.S.A has a lower violent crime rate but the truth is that the UK includes more crimes in their violent crime statistics when reporting than the U.S.A does. They include domestic violence for example and so does Canada but the U.S.A does not.

    Just my observations.

    Catherine

  • Human one | January 15, 2014 11:56 AMReply

    Two alpha males in close proximity. The young one, Chad Oulson, wasn't following the pack rule of "No cell phones are to be used IN THE AUDITORIUM" and is now gone. He could have texted outside the auditorium and lived to tell about it. The elder, Curtis Reeves had spent his life putting himself between us and those that will not follow pack rules. A few observations... Chad was big, which leads me to think he was not used to backing down or taking orders. Popcorn? Easy to determine who threw it by the scatter pattern. All photos of Chad where with his family or daughter. Yet his friends described him as out moto-crossing every chance he got even though he was much older. I mention this because although a big man in stature he may have been more juvenile than 43 emotionally or mentally. Moto-cross? Isn't that more of a singular enjoyment as opposed to interactive family fun time. As for Mr. Reeves and his gun? I am sure he had carried an off-duty gun for years. Had Chad been there as a madman shooting up the theater I am certain he and his gun would be being heralded as heroic. Everyone has two-sides. The wrong sides met. The results are terribly tragic. A little girl lost her father. A woman her husband. And the other, possibly his freedom. If either man had softened himself to the situation none of us would be typing today. Use this as a lesson to soften yourselves to those around you. Sometimes it not about you. - Smart people will learn from their mistakes. Wise people will learn from the mistakes of others. Be wise, be safe.

  • little miss sunshine | January 21, 2014 3:44 PM

    It's not a wholly tragic event - now there's one less texter to bother movie goers.

  • Master Dingo | January 15, 2014 11:49 AMReply

    "It's a story about guns, and men, and violence."

    No, it's not. You're being a misandrist because of one event. Both sexes are guilty of incredibly violent offenses and knee jerk killings:

    [There were a bunch of links here, but your site wouldn't allow me to post with them. Just look up the search term, "Woman shoots" to see my point. ]

    I think that the common denominator in all of these stories is a gun. There may be fist fights over texting, but if a gun is involved, the violent repercussions will be tenfold. I'd rather have you weakly push me with all of your impotent rage than draw and fire. It would be nice if we could both angrily walk away after the dispute.

  • Afterthouhts | January 15, 2014 11:46 AMReply

    Blaffer, I tried to respond directly to your comments, but the page wouldn't load. I hope you check and see I answered you here. The most accurate data agreed upon by all countries is, undoc.org 2013 study of world hommicide rates by country. The easiest to understand, and see is a color graph of the world by country on Wikipedia found by Google search, murder by capita, by country thee United States, is 1-2 per 100,000 thousand most all developed countries are 0-1, or 1-2 per 100,000 if you took out Chicago, Detroit, L.A., and Miami. We would be below the norm. Odd observation, the places with more gun regulation, have more of a problem. I understand that we have more guns then any other country, and that if you take away accidental shooting deaths we are again below the norm. It's a fine line between bully and defense.

  • JP | March 13, 2014 1:43 AM

    If you go to the wiki page you recommend, it says that the US murder rate is 4.8 per 100,000, and the US is coloured in the 2-5 range on the map (and is right at the top end of that range).

    Accidental deaths are not included. If you included accidental shootings (0.3 per 100,000 per year), the US would move up into the 5-10 range.

    Even with the cities you list excluded, the US would not fall below the international norm for developed nations, in fact it would remain over 3 times higher.

    Please take the time to look at the statistics and realise that every "fact" you have presented here is actually not true.

  • Franco | January 15, 2014 11:40 AMReply

    I would resume this tragedy like this...American Psycho kills American brat.
    The victim didn't want to put his phone away, even though cellphones are not allowed in the theater. The ex cop, felt like he was still a cop and acted like one on duty.
    Surprisingly the ex-cop was an experienced officer dealing with high tension situations, but he snapped and killed a man, who didn't deserve to get shot since he wasn't a threat to him and Reeves knew he had a gun on him. Guns are banned on Movie Theaters.
    Popcorn is not a weapon, and it doesn't matter if Oulson was 6 ft tall. The bottom line here is, someone with ZERO angriness control killed a man.
    Now is turn of the Media and lawyers trying to get out of jail the retired cop.
    America is not a safe place anymore, arrogance and zero tolerance surrounds some gun owners, including the happy trigger cops with serious psychological problems.

  • Mr. E | January 15, 2014 8:42 AMReply

    The simple fact is the texting guys fighting tactics suck. Why on earth would you use popcorn as a weapon in a gun fight? Some seem to think death related to an altercation is something new. Well guess what ... It's not. From the beginning of time men have fought and one man walks away. That's just the way it has been and always will be. Perhaps neutering all males at birth except for a few perfect specimens to carry on our proud linage would be acceptable? Turn all men doesl little creatures.

  • Blue Tommy | January 15, 2014 7:25 AMReply

    This is the wild west-cowboys. The article misses the point completely-rather than allowing for texting rows-have you considered BANNING the gun in theaters? Haven't Americans learned enough from all these killings that it is THE GUN THAT KILLS-if there was no gun, this tragedy will not have taken place. With a knife the victim can run away but with a gun-there is no hope. The constitution should be amended to remove the right to bear arms like slavery. This is a travesty. This is not the 1st time that insane men have killed people in public places!

  • Dubbel D | January 15, 2014 3:43 AMReply

    If I would die the same way like Oulson did, I would be very dissapointed and haunt forever. For myself, I try to carry my phone as little as possible. Especially when I'm going out. A wise man said: I fear the day when technology overlaps our humanity. It will be then that the world will have permanent ensuing generations of idiots.
    - Albert Einstein

  • Jacque | January 15, 2014 1:11 AMReply

    It has become, I suspect, the greatest excuse in the book: "I'm texting my kid"...or "I'm texting the sitter. *I need* to make sure everything is going okay. So back off."

    Absolute crap. Did parents refrain from going out before cell phones? Of course not. And they probably had a much better time being out together as part of a larger community and not being self-absorbed idiots who need to check up on precious Johnny every 15 minutes despite the annoying distraction it creates.

    This is an important issue here. The guy didn't deserve to die, but people need to put away their damn technology in theaters and other such places. We need to explore jamming them, except for 911. I believe they do that in France and other places.

  • Jacque | January 15, 2014 9:17 AM

    I am not French. I do not vote Republican. I don't jump to jump to conclusions, and it seems that a number of others are having a similar reaction to this incident, so I'd say I'm far from "obsolete." Who is the idiot in this picture? You should make good on your screen name and not speak and remain an "extra" in this discussion, because we're only getting non-sensical drivel out of you. Friggin' hilarious. For some of you airheads, EVERYTHING is about Obama. What a joke. Happy hunting at the gas station.

  • Non-Speaking Extra | January 15, 2014 2:11 AM

    TEXTING is your take-away on this issue? I'll tell you what: you chase after the texters, frenchie, and meanwhile I'll pop a cap up in some dude for cutting the line at the gas station.

    Gad, you're an obsolete idiot. With dummies like you voting Republican it's no wonder Obama got elected twice.

  • Afterthoughts | January 15, 2014 12:55 AMReply

    While not being very well educated, or very wealthy, I always wonder why people blame, "the gun". While I hate violence especially useless violence. Gangs, wars, suffering, discrimination etc. I wondered why everyone thinks America has a gun problem. So... I looked on Google, and I couldn't believe the number of people/countries that hate America, and love to call us, "gun loving, to the point of paranoia", I also looked up their murder rates, they are astonishingly similar, some more, some less, close though.... It appears they are just being murdered different ways, if their are no guns, it's knives, hammers, rope, spears, or hands. All developed countries have a similar murder rate. So, always being the little, or old in this case, or weaker, when are allowed to win? Not to sustain injury or death yourself? As in the movies, should you wait, if your still alive, until the music starts playing, and broken and battered lift yourself up, and triumphantly win? Because..... Speaking from experience, I generally lose, and with fewer teeth, more fear, and a failed justice system. I am reminded of two quotes: " god made man, smith and Wesson made them equal". And " blaming a gun for shooting, is like blaming a pencil for a misspelled word". Look at all the gun laws Chicago has, the most of any state or city in the U.S. Yet the highest rate of gun violence. I am eternally grateful that we have a police force, wich we should call at times like these. I pray for both families.

  • Blaffer | January 15, 2014 1:40 AM

    Dear Sir,

    Could you please share the sites where you found these astonishing statistics?

    Many thanks.

  • clay | January 14, 2014 11:55 PMReply

    What people are failing to see, is the fact that chad would be alive this very minute...had he displayed even a little courtesy and respect for others.

  • JP | March 13, 2014 1:54 AM

    If I had to choose a disrespectful behaviour between "throwing popcorn" and "murdering someone", I think I'd choose "murdering someone".

  • Maney | January 16, 2014 12:12 PM

    EXACTLY. He is responsible for his behavior. This time, his behavior got him killed. Not that it's OK to shoot people who irritate us . . . still. Personal accountability and basic courtesy seem to be waning in time with the deterioration of the two-parent family.

  • Headlock | January 14, 2014 11:09 PMReply

    Dear Sam "the Lizard King" Adams,

    I don't take umbrage with your speculative conviction that this isolated act of violence is representative of a culture that worships guns. It is not worth your time or my time to analyze how the premise of your facile essay exploring the roots of violence in America fails to break new ground, or how you voluntarily acknowledge that you will resort to violence only when you are in a safe environment. What I find most problematic with your precious attempt at intellectualism is your use of ineffective metaphors.

    "there's a part of me that's essentially a lizard"
    " stubbornly stuck in the Stone Age"
    " It doesn't matter how ill-equipped I am to follow through on those reptile-brain impulses"

    The only thing that got me through your editorial was imagining it was drafted by one of the carnivorous reptilian humanoids from V. Reading your editorial was like viewing a Carlos Reygadas film; daunting in its flimsiness.

  • Larock | January 14, 2014 9:24 PMReply

    So I guess if we blame the gun in one story we should blame the soda bottle in the other. Fact is, people are showing very little curtesy to each other now a days. They want to think only their view matters, whether it's about getting their texts out or I forcing their "law" on others.

  • blaffer | January 15, 2014 1:42 AM

    Of course, the chances of getting killed because you're hit in the chest by a soda bottle are pretty slim. Get it now?

  • Earswired | January 14, 2014 8:55 PMReply

    It's a bit shocking, for us non-Americans here, to read this story and realise the issue of whether a guy in a movie theatre has a gun is such a non-issue in the US that the author has a long rant without even raising it as problematic. Seems that to him, it's just one of those natural things, like sometimes it rains. Actually most of us who live outside the US find your nation's tolerance, even mania for guns despicable, crazy and, frankly downright weird.

  • mark | January 14, 2014 8:27 PMReply

    Wait...his 3 year old texts?

  • Vie | January 14, 2014 6:56 PMReply

    I doubt very much the retired police Captain left the theater and came back with a gun. He probably had a conceal weapons permit and carried it on him always. The fact that he decided that he would use it in a theater is wrong, wrong, wrong. Unless he was in fear for his life, and that was not the impression of any of the witnesses. When the person in front of me at the movies is playing on their phone and its enjoying my enjoyment of a movie, I change seats. But the movie wasn't even playing, it was the previews. The retired police Captain got angry and decided he would be king of the hill and shoot a man. Now the child has no father and the police Captain's life is ruined also. I bet if he was honest he would have done things differently.

    My mother cautioned me when I said something to a lady who parked in a handicapped spot with no endorsement on her license plate or hang tag in her vehicle. I said something because I was parked in a regular spot trying to assist my mother who is a paraplegic out of the car.

    Words are words and should not result in violence. Sticks and stone and guns my break my bones but words will never hurt me. Better your feelings or pride get bruised than a life be taken.

    I say to the old man who drew a gun in a movie theater - grow up. The world does not revolve around you, and two wrongs, do not make a right. Enjoy your prison food. I hope, but doubt, that the old man will spend any significant time in jail. He'll get bond and go home. Its a shame.

    As for the person who said Florida should be roped off. Its not Florida but the idiots with guns who think the world revolves around them, who use poor judgment who should be roped off, and unfortunately there are many of those spread all over the US. This is not a Florida issue.

  • clay | January 15, 2014 1:01 AM

    vie, you are an ass that has led a protected life.
    mr reeves has spent 20 years as a police officer dealing with low lifes.
    he is probably better than most at recognizing possible threats.
    when chad assumed an aggressive posture(attack mode), he became a threat.
    scan the web and watch the videos.
    mr. reeves is old and frail at 71.
    while 43 y.o. chad is what... well over 6 ft and very fit.
    the profile I got on chad is of a flaming asshole and a disrespectful bully.
    so unless you have the intestinal fortitude to put on a badge and walk a beat,
    or work inside a high security prison studying violent inmate behavior... you will probably never understand what went through mr reeves' mind.
    when chad threw the popcorn in the face of mr reeves, chad was about to get very physical.
    chad was about to do bodily harm to an old man with medical issues.
    mr reeves recognized a threat to his life, and acted in self defense.
    for reasons I choose not to divulge...I hate cops, but I side with mr. reeves on this one.

  • Chris, mother of a toddler | January 14, 2014 5:58 PMReply

    I'm disappointed you used a photo of the family in which the face of a now fatherless child was not blurred out. I'm sure you weren't the first to do so, or maybe you are; either way, it's shameful. Her face is now linked your trite and unimpressive attempt to relate her tragedy to your social awkwardness. Oh my gosh, you were in a fight once? You could have died, and are glad you didn't ( as am I), but you're also relieved that it wasn't an even more embarrassing experience for you? I hope she never reads this. And I hope you one day get over yourself.

  • Another Chris, Father of an Infant | January 14, 2014 8:42 PM

    You're silly Chris. Why you gotta be so silly? I hope you one day get over yourself.

  • Gary | January 14, 2014 5:28 PMReply

    Wow, that move theater must have been full as I assume that all the people commenting here must have been at the movie a saw the incident.

    I've read several articles on the shooting and I still can't piece together what happened beyond the obvious that Reeves shot Oulson. Was Oulson standing up towering over a sitting Reeves? Was Oulson threatening Reeves? Is Reeves mentally unstable?

    The texting may have been the catalyst but none of you know what actually happened in the theater that caused Reeves to shoot Oulson.

    So stop whining and call your legislators and local police and demand that the police enforce the gun laws that are already on the books and most of all stop blaming guns for our lack of ability to take responsibility for our own actions.

    For full disclosure I am a gun owner and have a concealed carry license in the state that I live.

  • Bill | January 14, 2014 6:16 PM

    Gary, I wasn' t in the theater but the shooter left and came back with a gun. And I don't know you but I could tell you were a gun owner with a concealed carry license before you stated it. Who else would be so desperate to create an excuse for the shooter.

  • Bill | January 14, 2014 6:15 PM

    Gary, I wasn' t in the shooter left and came back with a gun. And I don't know you but I could tell you were a gun owner with a concealed carry license before you stated it. Who else would be so desperate to create an excuse for the shooter.

  • Bobbalismus | January 14, 2014 5:01 PMReply

    It's about both, and includes the sorry state of narcissism and entitlement that pervades every aspect of our society. From the classroom to the road where people text while flinging 4000 pounds of metal at each other, to almost every other aspect of society individual freedom has come to mean entitlement and narcissism. It needs to stop. This is an extreme symptoms, but only in terms of degree.

  • Tom Wilson | January 14, 2014 4:58 PMReply

    This is a horrible article. How can you even focus on someone texting when the real problem is someone resorting to killing a man over texting? How is at all possible that an 'argument' of this nature resorted to any form of violence, let alone someone being killed?

    This is precisely what is wrong with American society, your affliction for violence and how desensitized you have become to it.

  • debby | January 14, 2014 5:17 PM

    That is exactly the author's point.

    Great opinion piece.

  • Paul Potthast | January 14, 2014 4:12 PMReply

    Sorry Sam, it is a tragedy, but the gun didn't shoot itself and kill Mr. Oulson. Had the weapon been a knife and Mr. Oulson was stabbed, would you have put as much emphasis of the blame on the knife? That's right, you wouldn't have done so. Perhaps a harder look on the individual in question (Mr. Reeves) is necessary.

  • debby | January 14, 2014 5:21 PM

    Had the weapon been a knife, he likely would have survived.

    But let's look at the individual in question: a retired police captain. Yiou could hardly ask for a better example of "a good guy with a gun".

    This insanity has to stop. Guns are for killing, and should only be used by people who have a legitimate need to kill.

  • david | January 14, 2014 4:04 PMReply

    Who brings a handgun to a theatre anyways?

  • ashlie | January 14, 2014 3:49 PMReply

    Very well written article. as for the comment trying to justify the man who fired the shot, not so much.

  • JUSTANOTHERGUY | January 14, 2014 3:23 PMReply

    @PHILLIP - how is it justified that a 71 year old senior citizen should be expected to have to "go to blows" with some athletic individual, half his age, in order to get the peace and order he is entitled to? In your world, I suppose grandpa's and grandma's are going to have to either handle their own fist fights, or just accept whatever disservice is dealt to them?

  • clay | January 15, 2014 1:38 AM

    Bill. Your stupidity is amazing. mr reeves did not start the incident.
    a very disrespectful chad oulson started it by being an asshole and texting in a theater.
    now, if someone stands over you in an aggressive posture, and then throws popcorn in your face...that person is about to get very physically violent.
    mr reeves realized this and was acting in self defense.
    if you don't understand that, then you are a PUNK BITCH.
    all chad had to do was apologize for being rude and go out to the lobby to continue his texting.
    but since chad was a flaming asshole of a bully, he would never think of doing the right thing.
    I can guarantee one thing...chad will never bully anyone again.

  • Kelly | January 15, 2014 1:32 AM

    It's impossible to "get the peace" through any form of violence. Anger begets anger. The problem with carrying a gun around when you are somebody who has a temper (not saying the temper was not justified in this case), but it is too easy to pull out the gun and make a rash decision out of anger and ruin your own life and somebody else's in a second. Also, aren't we a smart enough country of people to figure out how to solve our issues with each other without beating each other up? These are really two issues, one that guns make it too easy to make a permanent solution to a temporary problem and two, that we've become a country who are rude to each other and can't talk things out civilly.

  • Bill | January 14, 2014 7:08 PM

    What is your suggestion? Murdering in cold blood those they start fights with? Make no mistake Reeves started this. And ended it.

  • Non-Speaking Extra #3 | January 14, 2014 3:14 PMReply

    Real deep piece there, Sammy.

    Irr-Regardless, no matter which side of the fence you land on this story, one is for for damn sure: Florida needs to be roped off on it's own.

  • Krispin | January 14, 2014 3:12 PMReply

    False dichotomy as a rhetorical device seems to work just as well for blues as it does for reds.

    Reeves is to blame, not anyone's phone, not even the bad old gun. If we need an abstract to argue over, why not the vicious culture of unrestrained violence among police officers? If the gun factors into Reeve's ugly murder, doesn't his time as a cop have some kind of rhetorical weight, as well?

    Lots and lots of people - the vast majority of them - who own guns don't engage in this kind of behavior ever. Statistically, cops and ex-cops do.

    The argument for gun control would be more responsible and effective if it didn't rely so often on emotionalism, editorial, anecdote and cherry-picking. In this era, I find any argument meant to abrogate the freedom of individual persons to be ill-considered at the *very* best, Shakespeare-level best.

    This ain't it. Stop co-opting ugly tragedies to sell a false dichotomy aimed at concentrating firearms in the hands of *police officers*, please and thank you.

  • JustAnotherGuy | January 14, 2014 3:11 PMReply

    The truth is, we have not yet heard both sides of the story. In their haste to paint the story to fit their agenda, the media frequently does not get the story straight, overlooking key facts in favor of emotional impact, and that quickly affects accurate public perception.
    Consider the facts:
    1. The shooter was 71 years old, not just any former Barny Fife, but a retired police captain, with notable law enforcement leadership - certainly someone trained to understand self-defense laws and the necessary conditions for legal use of lethal force.
    2. Under typical self defense laws, when a person initiates a physical confrontation, they do so at the risk that the assaulted person may respond to defend himself/herself. If the other person thinks that they are at risk of imminent physical harm, they may do so with lethal force. At this point we have not been presented evidence as to WHO started the physical confrontation that caused popcorn to become "thrown", or what its magnitude was. Who started a verbal confrontation is not the issue. If witnesses and/or evidence proves the 71 year old shooter started the physical confrontation, or if no real physical contact or imminent threat occurred, the shooter will likely be convicted. The shooter did make a statement that he was struck in the face in some way. Witnesses will probably be used to support or disprove that, and clarify who initiated the physical confrontation.
    3. Determining whether or not the shooter felt legitimately threatened could examine the behaviors leading up to the shooting. Irrational behavior leading up to initiation of physical confrontation reasonably tends to increase one's fear of harm. Prior to the physical confrontation, the shooter DID respond to the annoyance rationally; he avoided direct confrontation by attempting to get theater personnel to intervene. I am sure that the defense will point that is was irrational for the supposed victim to have been so insistent on continuing to text - despite theater warning against it - bothering even more patrons with an argument, rather than simply complying or stepping outside the theater to continue.
    3. At the moment of the shooting, available information indicates the supposed victim was standing, turned around, facing the shooter in an escalation of irrational, direct confrontation. His wife's hand was across this chest. The defense will likely seek to show that this motion was to restrain him from physical confrontation rather than to block an anticipated gunshot.
    4. The supposed victim was a tall, youthful, robust individual - clearly, in a physical altercation, more of a perceived threat to a 71 year old senior citizen than the other way around.

  • Greggers | January 22, 2014 8:27 PM

    Thank you, JUSTANOTHERGUY.

    And could we please have more lawyers and/or actually objective people comment here? I feel sorry for any ethical lawyers on both sides who have to find a jury that can be somewhat free of all the emotional bias and media garbage surrounding this. Hopefully they can at least find a jury with balanced biases.

  • theater manager | January 17, 2014 9:34 PM

    You folks might be amazed how infantile a theater full of people can behave. If I am not scolding some self entitled, inconsiderate ass for texting in the theater, I am probably talking down the rigid, self righteous ass who is about to strangle him, although he could simply move to a row in front of said self entitled ass. If it isn't the phone it will be talking, throwing food or teenagers bullying the bully-able. I have even broken up a fist fight between two mom's quarreling over seats during a packed children's movie. Incidentally, both had small, tearful children watching them model this horrible behavior.

    I know that this is not the true point of this discussion, but in some ways it is. Theater behavior is similar to driving behavior. Many people are impatient and aggressive. Maybe it's the dim lighting giving a false sense of "nobody can see me here".

    Both men are at fault. It takes two to argue. It takes two idiots to escalate an argument about rudeness and manners into a fist fight or worse as we have seen here. Neither man is "innocent". Every action has a consequences. In this case, they were much more severe than anticipated by all involved.

    Personally, I tend to side with JUSTANOTHERGUY here. I have seen similar behavior so many times. There is not a person on the planet that can get their hand in FRONT of a bullet fired a few feet away. The wife was trying to calm and restrain her riled husband. That's more likely why her hand was in front of her husbands chest. But, none of us "KNOW" what happened. We are reacting to media slant and hyperbole.

    It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    Ps. Let the manager do his job. You complain. HE responds. If the "offender" gets aggressive the manager will simply call the police and have him "escorted" out.

  • FP | January 14, 2014 2:38 PMReply

    Thank you Sam for illustrating your points with a personal anecdote. I'm sure admitting all that doesn't feel all that great, much less having done it, but it's not like anyone would have known except you and a dozen people, so your openness is appreciated.

    As to your thesis, I agree that this ceased being a story about texting when a man got shot and died, but the texting is an example of the slow burn towards a total abandonment of the social contract. The idea that "only I matter" is played out on Wall Street, social media, politics, and public spaces more openly, without understanding its impact at a micro and macro level. The retiree with the gun exhibited the same behavior, he is entirely in the wrong for over escalating the situation, and he should spend his remaining retired days in a cell.

    However, while the gun in this micro situation is a problem, the lack of respect for the social contract is the macro problem. It's the problem that lingers long after this story becomes forgotten.

    Having visited the theatres a fair amount in the run up to awards season, I've had to make certain decisions about how to react to cell usage. I agree that usage during the 20-plus minutes of previews is vaguely acceptable, I've even been guilty of needing to forward some messages after arriving to them late. Once the movie you paid to see starts, vs. the trailers you didn't, my phone always gets turned off, if I didn't do so prior to buying my ticket. I've also stopped tapping shoulders in front of me if that phone glows because someone is just checking statuses or emails during the feature. I'm in a large darkened auditorium and I can face forward - for the hassle of being annoyed or distracted further, I let that go.

    If it's happening in my row, near me, as it did when some fossil got his Shazam out at every damned song in American Hustle, I say something loud enough so that the message is received not just by him, but anyone else using a device or talking. Having had enough, I finally blurted out "Can you just buy the soundtrack and spare the rest of us?" It only sort of worked, he turned the phone away from me when he more sparingly continued, which again speaks to how we've now trained and engrained selfishness into people at all ages and levels of our society. My own outburst likely disturbed those blissfully unaware of it all, and so I indict myself too in that anger you pointed out, being its not just a male problem, and my own comments about "only I matter." But then again, I would have been silent throughout if someone else's rudeness hadn't been so obvious, which in the case of movie texting/talking, is likely one major reason why film attendance is plummeting and why my Netflix is busier than ever.

  • Lindsay | January 15, 2014 10:35 AM

    I paid to enter the theater and watch what's on the screen. Yes, people come and go, text, and whisper during previews - but that does NOT make it "perfectly acceptable." Perhaps I want to watch the previews - and that's not your decision to make.

    You want to text, stay home and play with your phone. You want to talk, stay home and talk to your friends. The default is that there is something on the screen that some/most/hell, even just one person wants to see, and paid to see it. If you can't accept that, and shut the hell up, turn off your phone, and sit there and pay attention to the screen, then stay home and quit spoiling it for others.

  • brian | January 14, 2014 7:23 PM

    People come and go, get popcorn, find seats, etc during previews. Texting, and quiet whispering at this time is perfectly acceptable. After all, what are previews other than "forced advertising". Many people hate them because they spoil the plot of movies anyway.

    Regardless, my beef is people taking videos at concerts, holding cameras above their heads and blocking the people behind them. Live in the moment, and enjoy the show, and stop worrying about proving to the world on facebook about how cool your life is by posting pics of your food, and video from last night's concert. The terrible sound quality, and shaky video is so utterly pointless anyway.

  • Sam Adams | January 14, 2014 5:07 PM

    Great point, and one I could go on about at length (and have). I didn't feel we knew enough about the interaction between the two men to know to what extent that applies here, but narcissism and the corrosion of the public sphere have a lot to do with how people behave in theaters generally.

  • Ella | January 14, 2014 2:37 PMReply

    Sam, I couldn't agree more. Well said. Some of the commenters would do well to spend a moment or two engaging in such candid self-reflection.

    How in the world is this about texting when the father of a three-year-old was shot and killed and his wife injured trying to jump in front of the bullet? A beloved husband and father is dead. Horrible, and utterly senseless. Let's turn to the real topic here - what everyday humans are capable of when they have ready and unfettered access to such powerful deadly weapons.

  • Simone | January 14, 2014 2:29 PMReply

    This Chad guy did not deserve to die. I have been in countless situations where I'm in a movie theater and someone decided to whip out their cell phone to text or surf the net. Instead of telling the moron what to do, I just got up and moved to a quieter and darker area of the theater. This lone ranger asshole who killed Chad probably would have killed someone else under similar circumstances. Sadly, this story isn't going to change anything. People will still go to the theater, sit right down next to someone like me, and text/surf the net. This is the society we live in and it's up to us to be bigger than these texting fools and just move to another seat.

  • Ally | January 14, 2014 2:10 PMReply

    I cannot see how texting is a valid reason for a human being to kill another human being. But it so happens that we do live in a society where this happens, which is shameful.
    It appalls me to see people commenting here things like "Maybe he should have put away his g#ddamn phone" and basically setting blame on the victim.

    I was in the movie theatre the other day and there was a girl to my right who would be no more than 13y-o, accompanied by an old lady, which seemed to be family. The lights were still on and some advertising was on the screen and the girl was texting (or using the phone in a similar manner). An adult man who was sitting behind me reached down and poked the girl in the arm and commanded in an agressive way that she turned off her phone immediately.
    The girl had no reaction at first and embarrassed she put down the phone. The old lady with her did not like the way the man approached the kid and said he shouldn't have been rude. Again, the man replied agressively, and continue to yell at the lady, to the point that my husband went out to get someone, because he felt like standing up for the lady, but he also was afraid the man was so angry he'd just start a fight right there.

    We went to the movies to watch Walt Disney's Frosen and I witnessed an adult man being very agressive towards a kid and an elderly woman merely because the kid was using the phone. Is that acceptable behaviuor? I don't think so.

  • JackJack | January 22, 2014 8:32 PM

    It's not. But being very afraid for your physical self and life in the face of a large aggressive man who has just shown no social restraint by throwing his popcorn in your face while his distraught wife is trying to hold him back before he likely punches you in the face is demonstrably somewhat justified.

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