Come on baby, light my phone

Come on baby, light my phone

Like most Singaporeans, I am a regular cinema-goer - I go to the theatre at least twice a year.

There are two reasons I visit my local dentist more often than the local cinema.

First, my time is divided between my work and my daughter. That means I am no longer able to watch movies with any nudity, but I have seen Despicable Me so many times that I am now convinced that I am one of the Minions.

But the main reason for shying away from the cinema is the idiots.

The idiots, it seems, have many ways to occupy their time at weekends.

Some like to crowd around the bus driver at the front door, while the back of the bus has space for a hundred kindergarten kids to perform "The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round."

Other idiots like to treat their private parts like a fireman's hose and pee all over the floors of public toilets.

And some are convinced that they are the only people inside a movie theatre.

All three happened to me last weekend - in that order. Ordinarily, the first two are common occurrences. Find me someone who has not urinated all over the floor and that person is likely to be a woman.

Perhaps the first two left me in a foul mood by the time the third came around. You see, modern social media has made idiots in the cinema more cowardly.

In the old days, they were easy to spot. They would be two rows down, pressing their phone to their ears and shouting: "Wah, this film damn lousy. Got no jokes, no sexy ladies, nothing. You told me this Schindler's List's supposed to be good what... And it's in black and white some more. You make me watch old movie, is it?"

They were easy to silence, just a tap on the shoulder and a little advice.

Something like: "Look, it's obvious that Schindler's List isn't for you. It's not about a guy going shopping. So, please, go home, Dad."

Fire was always met with fire. Your indignant voice silenced their idiotic voice. They lost face and stopped talking.

(I was once at a UK cinema where a drunken student was telling his girlfriend what he planned to do with her between the sheets later. In the darkness, a voice shouted out: "Look mate, go outside if you want to talk to your mother-in-law." He never said another word.)

Plus the cinema ad warnings are simple to follow. Switch your phone to silent. Don't talk during the movie.

But they don't always say turn the phone OFF.

Ten minutes into the movie, there was a green light on my left. Then there was a green light on my right; then there was a green light in front.

It was like being stuck in a street full of epileptic traffic lights.

My head jerked violently from side to side following these green orbs.

These folks with large phone screens are less mature than my daughter. When she was younger, she would put on a cape that made her "disappear". I'd then stumble around the bedroom trying to locate my "invisible" daughter.

Adults behave this way in the cinema. As they open WhatsApp messenger, they must whisper to their friends: "It's OK. I'm now invisible! As soon as the green light comes on, poof! I vanish. So don't panic. I am still here. I'm just invisible."

Only they're not invisible, are they? They sit there with glowing green faces, looking like Kermit the Frog in the spotlight.

I've tried to recreate my eye-for-an eye method, but it's no longer voice against voice, but phone screen against phone screen.

And leaning over a row of cinema seats to shove a glaring iPhone into someone's eyes is not behaviour to be encouraged.

A well-lit phone could be waved aggressively in the face of the right target. Or it could end up terrifying a sweet old auntie who only went to see The Hunger Games because she thought it was a cookery contest.

After an hour, though, I snapped. I resorted to the tried-and-tested method.

"Turn that phone off," I hissed.

"I'm not on the phone," the texting machine whispered back.

"Then see a doctor because your face glows in the dark."

He actually believed he wasn't on the phone. That's the trouble with these social media devices. They shut people off from the actual environment around them. In WhatsApp world, other cinema-goers simply do not exist.

But I decided not to get into an argument. Older and wiser, I realised that a public row would only ruin the cinema experience for everyone. So I threw some popcorn at him instead.

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