Not Triggering Anger at the Movies (Inspired by Disney’s INSIDE OUT)

Samantha Stauf is here to give us some tips on movie going etiquette, all inspired by Disney’s Inside Out.

Movies theaters are breeding grounds for high emotion. A great movie manages to wrangle laughter, tears, cringes, teeth-grinding, and the urge to hide under the chair. Pixar’s animated masterpiece Inside Out ties the emotional responses we exhibit to various physical manifestation of the emotions that live inside our head. The pixie-like Joy, stylish Disgust, high-strung Fear, droopy Sadness, and the business-like Anger all linger in your head around a control board. They await circumstances where they are needed to guide their human through situations they encounter.

Not many films endeavor to trigger an angry response, but Anger is still summoned from his cushy couch to press that button during a movie. What summons anger? Those unconscientious movie goers that surround his human.

At the core of anger is a firmly ingrained sense of “things being fair.” In terms of movie theaters, a large majority of the population define fair as the ability to watch a movie with minimal physical, visual, or auditory distractions. The very fact that I’m writing this article, means that some individuals either don’t consider their actions distracting or don’t realize just how distracting they can be. Below are 7 actions that has Anger repeatedly begging the other emotions to allow him to utilize that one curse word he knows.

Height Awareness

This is for all of the vertically blessed out there. You’re tall. Very, very tall. And you know what? I’m short. Very, very short. When you sit directly in front of me, even with riser-type seats, a large chunk of my screen is filled with the back of your impeccably done hair.

I’m impressed. With your height and how healthy your hair is, but I didn’t just spend $10 to stare at the back of your head. Could you maybe not try to sit directly in front of me or any other horizontally challenged individuals?

Here are some tips to help you choose a seat:

  • Eye the people behind you and sit in front of the taller individual.
  • Choose a seat toward the back of the theater.
  • Choose a seat where you’re not sitting in front of someone.
  • Show up a little early to allow shorter people plenty of empty seats to migrate to when you inevitably sit in front of them.

The One Seat Buffer

What are you doing!! There are a dozen open seats! Just look at them all. Don’t sit next to me. Don’t you dare. And where does she sit? Right next to me. You know what followed? Two hours of discomfort, me passive aggressively hogging the arm rest, and chuckling internally with glee when a cell phone ruined my neighbors viewing pleasure.

All of you folks who don’t care about personal space. Here’s what you need to know. According to this History channel video space bubbles matter to a large majority of Americans. On the video, Rutgers University Professor Jack Aiello explains that Americans have different standards for how much space they deem an appropriate distance based on how well they know the individual invading their bubble.

When you sit directly next to someone, especially when there are other good options, you’re invading their intimate zone (less than 18 inches). In order to not discomfort the other individual, try to keep at least one or two seats as a buffer. This will leave you in their friend zone (1.5 to 4 feet), but that can’t be helped in a movie theater. 

Aisle Etiquette

Nothing can trigger minor bursts of annoyance faster than attempting and failing to navigate down an aisle. Knees get jarred. Toes get stepped on. And people lose their balance. You can save yourself and everyone else a lot of pain by utilizing these tips to navigating to and from your chosen seat:

  • Step carefully.
  • Stand, put your feet on the seat, or shift to give the individual navigating the aisle more room.
  • Enter or Exit from the side that requires you maneuver past fewer individuals.

For Movie Talkers

Lewis Black, the actor who plays Anger from Inside Out, completed a no-talking commercial for Texas based theater Alamo Drafthouse. Here’s Anger’s reaction to talking during the movie, talking while the movie is playing is “thoughtless, unthinking, insensitive, selfish, self-centered, unsympathetic, uncaring, unmindful […] and if you keep bothering your neighbors you idiots, I’ll have to put the foot down.”

You might be interested to note that Alamo Drafthouse puts there foot down by kicking talkers out of the theater. In most theaters, the majority of the population who want to enjoy the show in silence must suffer through the unending comments in silence while occasionally shushing the talkers.

Contrary to what you might believe, we don’t enjoy shushing talkers. Do us all a favor by:

  • Not talking.
  • If you must talk:
  • Keeping the talking to a minimum.
  • Whispering if you must talk.
  • Choosing a seat far, far away from other movie goers.

For Phone or Game Addicts

If you go to the movie, watch the movie. Don’t pull out your phone to tweet about how hilarious Sadness is or text your friend about how cute Joy is. Don’t pull out your PSP or Gameboy because the movie is too kiddy to deserve your full attention.

Electronic devices might not pollute the air with noise, but those little screens are distracting. They’re beacons that the eye is repeatedly drawn to because it’s one of the only bright areas in the room. If you really can’t control yourself long enough to go a 1 ½ to 3 hours without an electronic device, choose a seat in the back row of the theater. This will severely limit the number of people who are distracted by your device.

Seat Kickers

Can’t help fidgeting? Do your legs have a life of their own? Do you have children who have a severe case of the wiggles? No one wants to feel someone kicking the back of their seat for an entire movie. It’s distracting and obnoxious. Seat kickers, you know who you are, you have four options:

  • Kick away until the person snaps at the kicker to stop.
  • Wrangle the leg into control.
  • Choose a seat where no one will be sitting in front the kicker.
  • Tell the individual in front of the kicker that kicking will happen, so they can choose another seat.

Babies at the Movie

This isn’t an anti-children or babies at the movie rant. I have no issues if parents want to bring a well-behaved child to the movie because they can’t find a baby sitter. My issue is when I pay to see a movie not about child-rearing, and I spend the entire movie listening to the baby cry. That happened to me when I went to the premiere of World War Z. A mother spent the entire movie attempting to get the child to stop crying. The crying would stop, two minutes later there would be an explosion in the movie, and the baby would start wailing again.

Parents can bring some babies to certain types of movies. Before you decide to go to the movies with your baby, try to get a sense of how they react to loud noises. According to, some babies have more acute hearing than others. This means that babies with more sensitive hearing will be more apt to cry during movies with loud and violent audio. If you’re not sure how the baby will react, feel free to give going to the movie with your kid a try. If the kid reacts with continuous crying, for our sakes and theirs, please leave the theater, get a refund, and watch the movie at another time without the kid.

Much of movie etiquette are unspoken rules. Breaking those rules can cause Anger. Anger can cause confrontations no one enjoys. For the sake of our sanity and the ability for all to enjoy the movie, let’s all try a little harder to be a good movie-goer. Movie goers who enjoy flirting with the above seven deadly movie goer sins, if you attempt to curb your habits, we’ll attempt to curb our irritation.

The Author

Agents of Geek

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