With great power comes great responsibility. If Spider-Man took this advice to heart, so too should we…when it comes to smartphones. We now have the ability to hold the Internet in our palm and access unlimited sources of human knowledge with the swipe of a fingertip. But that doesn’t mean we should all the time. Especially during a movie.
As a significant part of the population in the Western hemisphere—and parts of the Southern hemisphere, too—are increasingly addicted to continuous connection, the so-called temple of the movie theatre has seen its halls desecrated. While answering a call during a screening is still largely verboten, people no longer hesitate to pull out their phones and text, somehow unaware of the blinding glare emanating from their tiny screen.
The Alamo Drafthouse, a rep and cult cinema based in Austin, Texas, has long been on the frontlines of waging a war against such atrocities. Two years ago, they posted a recording of an irate woman who left a voicemail after being asked to leave the theatre. (As the video says, the theatre has one rule: “If you talk or text during a movie, we kick you out.”) It garned international attention and support from like-minded cinephiles who only want to see one screen during a screening.
Now the theatre has enlisted some star-power to help with the cause: James Franco. In Austin to promote Spring Breakers at SXSW, Franco stopped by the Drafthouse and ended up recording an impromptu PSA. Riffing on the famous speech his character, Alien, gives in Harmony Korine’s new film, Franco pumps up the cinema, saying it’s his “absolute favourite place in Austin.” So, he says, “don’t ruin it!” Turn off your phones, don’t check Instagram, he pleads, because if he hears a ring during a movie he feels like his character Henry Osborn did in Spider-Man 3 after the webbed avenger killed his father. And no one wants that. Or anymore Spider-Man 3 references. So turn off your dang phones and be quiet.