Friday, September 26, 2008

Life Imitates Art

I got the chance to go to a preview showing of the new movie “Sex Drive” so I could write a review about it. Going to promotional screenings of films is a lot of fun, and it is usually free, these are two things that attract me to them greatly, but sometimes something can get in the way of that good time.

“Sex Drive” was being screened at a theater I have driven past a thousand time, but have never actually seen a movie at, so I was pleased at the new experience. The ticket said on it that recording devices, including cell phones capable of capturing video, were not allowed in the screening. This makes sense since I’m sure they would like to dissuade people from making bootlegs of the film available of bittorrent before the movie is even released, so my wife left her phone in the car, and I do not usually carry one anyway.

So there we are, standing in line outside a theater that reads “CLOSED” on its sign because they do not want to advertise the special screening (although you would think the huge line of people might give it away a bit, but then probably 98% of the people in the theater were in that line) when it happened. A character from my story “Mallville – A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse” (working title) enters my life ever so briefly.

“Mallville” features a character named Hashmir Kaur, a man of Indian descent who is the head of Mallville’s security force, and he is a right horse’s ass. He’s officious, rude, possibly evil, a Vogon if ever there was one, and here he was in real life. It is a weird sensation to meet a character that you created in real life.

Sure, this guy is white and balding and looks nothing like Hashmir physically, but he is Hashmir all the same. He is wearing his suit that is the same colour scheme as all of the other employees, and matches the other security team members. The one thing that sets him apart is that his tie is decorated with little handcuffs.

Hashmir comes striding out to the line warning people that they could not bring their cell phone, “Game Gear” (yes, he said Game Gear specifically at least three times), camera, etc into the theater. Okay, I think, I guess that makes sense, no recording devices like the ticket says, although the gaming system reference puzzled me, and not just for the fact that he specified a nearly twenty year old system. I didn’t give it too much thought though.

Finally, about thirty minutes before the film is scheduled to start, they start letting people into the theater, and goddamn if Hashmir hasn’t got a security crew searching people’s bags and wanding people with handheld metal detectors like we were going on an airplane (or at least the fair) instead of going to see some raunchy sex comedy.

Now I do have my iPod in my pocket, as I pretty much always do, but as this neither makes noise nor records, and Hashmir did not mention MP3 players (that I heard anyway) I figure I’ll try it and see what happens.

Of course my pockets set off the wand, and I pull everything out, kinda trying to make the iPod blend in with the book I had in my pocket, but the guy with the wand sees it anyway.

“No cell phones” the young Asian gentleman says.

“It’s not a cell phone,” I explain, “It’s just an iPod, it cannot record anything.”

The keeper of the wand looks to Hashmir, who in his best you-kids-stay-off-my-lawn voice barks “No electronics! You need to take it out to your car.”

“It’s just an iPod, it’s not a recording device of any sort.”

Hashmir is having none of it, he repeats his ruling of no electronics, and that’s that. Off I go.

Now people who know me will wonder why I didn’t just fire off a large dose of sarcasm at this wanker. The answer is simple, I wanted to see the movie, and this man is clearly the sort of person who will have someone who defies him removed from the premises. Hell, he’d probably have the insubordinate shot if he could.

So I go out to the car to hide my iPod, and hide is really the proper word here; we already have our backpacks hidden under a camouflage of crap that I always keep in the car for just such reasons. This theater is not in the best area, the mall about two blocks away from there offers a security escort out to your car as a courtesy; it’s just that kind of area.

Plus the incident made me feel young again. I am in my thirties, and it’s been a long time since someone gave me the you-whippersnappers-have-no-respect-for-your-elders act. It was refreshing, kind of like getting carded at BevMo despite the fact many people think I’m a good ten years older than I am on first meeting me.

Heading back inside, I now have to wait at the back of the line which is snaking all the way through the theater and almost to the front entrance. If it were not bad enough that the line is super long, it's also moving super slowly as the security team is encountering people with phones, PDAs, and the like, and sending them back out of line.

It takes over half an hour to get back to the front of the line, and now a woman from the movie company is going through the remains of the line (which is a good 100 people long behind me, mostly people who, like me, had to go hide their personal electronics in their cars) trying to warn people, incorrectly I might add, as she is just warning about phones, about Hashmir's anti-electronics stance.

Luckily the movie did not start on time, as there were still a large number of people trying to get in. If they were going to do such a thorough search of everyone, they probably should have started letting people into the theater at least 30 minutes before they did.

Finally everyone is in the theater, the lights go down, and the movie starts. Things start off shaky; no, not because of the quality of the movie, but because it seems that so much time was spent ,making sure no one smuggled in a PSP that no one bothered to test the projector to make sure it was set up properly. For the first five minutes the screen alternately shakes like there's an earthquake in the booth, ends up with the top of the picture under the bottom, or just projects half onto the floor. After these five minutes, the screen goes dark.

During the projection issues, many people were jeering, but when the screen goes black, the theater fills with a mix of boos, hisses, and applause at the incompetence of Hashmir's crew, not in the least because there are still people in the theater with cell phones.

My wife points out to me that Hashmir and his crew of about 5 security members are off to the side of the theater, and that Hashmir has a nightvision scope. He is looking for bursts of light coming from electronic devices. He takes advantage of the stoppage of the film to stand up by the screen.

The first thing he does is single out some teenager with a cell phone, and bellow to his staff, “Escort this man out of the theater!”. The boy goes willingly enough, but is soon flanked by a pair of security guards/ushers and is escorted out of the theater,

“I have already spotted four cellphones and a Palm Pilot (yes, he said Palm Pilot, not PDA or Blackberry), and if I see any of them again I will have you escorted out. There will be no cell phones in this building!” he bellows at the audience.

It was kind of fun at this point to watch people who I knew had managed to get their phones in try and shelter them from view. Frankly at that point I didn’t feel a lot of pity for those people. You managed to smuggle the device past the metal detector and the bag check, and then you are stupid enough to whip it out and start using it again? Seriously, you don’t deserve to see the movie then.

The rest of the movie was enjoyable enough, as per my review of it that has already been posted, but on the way out we saw Hashmir again standing with some of his crew outside the theater. Alas, he had no name tag, or I would be using his real name here, but he did have a cell phone in his hands.

I couldn’t resist, as it’s not like he could really kick me out at this point, so as we walked past I loudly said to my wife, “I thought there were no cell phones in this building?”

No comments: