Texting in movie theaters: An idea whose time has come?

From The Los Angeles Times:

When it comes to people texting in movie theaters, I’m not just a crank. I’m a vigilante. When a couple of young women sitting near me starting texting at a screening the other night, sending bright shafts of light from their phones into my eyeline, I growled, “Hey, cut it out or I’m gonna throw your phones away.”

My 13-year-old son has heard so many anti-texting sermons that when I was recently touting Clint Eastwood’s performance as a take-the-law-in-his-own-hands cop in “Dirty Harry,” hoping he’d want to watch the film, my kid immediately asked, “Does he shoot people for texting in movie theaters too?”

So I wasn’t exactly a disinterested observer when I read about a panel at last week’s CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas that was highlighted by a noisy debate over, yes, texting in movie theaters. Several prominent industry figures seemed to endorse the idea that, at a time when teenagers are going to the movies less and less, it might be time to relax our prohibitions against texting in theaters.

Regal Entertainment chief Amy Miles, who oversees the nation’s largest theater chain, said that while her company discourages cell phone use, executives had talked about being more flexible in auditoriums showing youth-oriented films. “You’re trying to figure out of there’s something you can offer in the theater that I would not find appealing but my 18-year-old son might,” she said.

IMAX Filmed Entertainment chief Greg Foster also seemed to endorse a relaxation of standards. He noted that his 17-year-old son “constantly has his phone with him,” adding that “we want [youths] to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their existence.” A cell phone ban might make them “feel a little handcuffed.”

Tim League, head of the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse theater chain and a militant opponent of cell phone use in its theaters, did not take this lying down. League said movie theaters were a “sacred place” that should be free of distractions, saying that texting would be introduced in his theaters “over my dead body.”

The response in the blogosphere was equally blunt. Dripping with sarcasm, Jonah Gardner at Filmology said that when it came to allowing texting: “Why stop there? Encourage people to come to the movies to make important phone calls. Have them bring their laptops and do some work. Invite businesses to hold meetings during Saturday night screenings of ‘The Hunger Games.’”

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Los Angeles Times