March 6, 1999
The Cruel Intentions of Teenage Audiences
by Dustin Putman
Ever since about 1991, I have been a fairly frequent filmgoer, even more so as the years have passed. Because of this fact, as any other avid movie fans can attest to, you are bound to occasionally be stuck with an audience of people whom you would like to personally get up and strangle to death. Although problems also often arise concerning dimwits who bring babies and younger children into theaters, worse than any other genre of film, I pretty much dread going to see movies targeted for the teenage audience since, to put it bluntly, the large majority of pubescent hormone-ragers act like wild animals who I'm sure have been raised in homes, but more closely resemble a bunch of farm animals living in barns. Two of the worst cases of this experience occurred when I saw both "Scream 2" and "The Waterboy" on opening night. Hey, maybe I was asking for it since I even attempted to venture to see it with a crowd of immature teens, but just because they are in the 13-19 age group doesn't give them the right to disrespect the rest of the audience who, like them, have also paid big money for a ticket to sit down and enjoy a movie. I'm guessing that most people don't want to constantly hear a group of pricks continuously yell unfunny and idiotic comments at the screen and to their equally warped-and-asinine buddies. In "The Waterboy," not only did my moviegoing companion and I suffer through the oft-annoying teenagers talking and yelling to each other and to what they thought were humorous occurences happening on the screen, but we also had to deal with the dreaded laser-pointers. If you don't know what their purpose is, you're not alone, but apparently they were made for teenagers to bring them into theaters and point them obnoxiously at the screen, bothering the other audience members. I dispise this type of behavior when I have come to watch a movie, but I usually just shrug it off in the end and talk afterwards about what goons they were. I try not to say anything to them (dirty looks work just as well) because I am always afraid I might start even bigger trouble. If anything, I certainly don't want to sink to their level and start a fight.
My last straw, however, occurred last night, March 5, 1999, otherwise known as "The Film Screening from Hell," at the 10:10 p.m. showing of the modern-day teen remake of the 18th-century novel "Les Liasons Dangeruses," entitled "Cruel Intentions." Now there have been hateful audience members before, as I just finished discussing, but never, never, before have I been so completely disgusted with what probably accounts for maybe 20-30% of today's teenage youths. Going in, I should have known I was in trouble, since I already knew that the film included a large deal of sexual innuendo, including a scene of two young women french-kissing and heavy homosexual undertones (including the aftermath of a gay sex scene between two teenage males). But you know how I reasoned it? Somewhere in my idealized mind I thought that since the film did have a fairly serious and "heavy" storyline, that the teenagers in the audience would thoughtfully watch the film and not make any rude comments. Of course, going in I did realize that I was probably one of the few people who even knew it was based on a famed novel that has had three other film adaptations. I hoped for the best, but what I got was perhaps the worst audience I have ever had the misfortune of sitting with (and lucky for me, I was stuck right behind the loudest people in the theater).
By the time the opening scene began, the derogatory remarks were off and running! The following are descriptions of some of the lovely things I had the honorary priviledge of listening to while at the same time trying desperately, with all my willpower, to watch the movie. Forget about the enjoyment aspect of seeing it! The things written in underlined italics were what was happening on screen, and the pleasant little quotes from the teen audience are in regular font:
While a person was playing a string instrument:
Strum those bows HARD! The bows! HAHAHA!!! YEAH, MAN!
When one character declines to have sex with another character:
Stupid bitch! Slut!
When one teenage girl is teaching another how to french kiss:
EEEWWWW! Buffy likes pussy!
When one character tells another that he can have her any way that he wants:
HAHAHA! AWWW, MAN! She means up the butt!
When two male characters are caught in bed together:
They're pudding-packers! HAHAHA! YEAH! HAHA, HAHA!
During the downbeat, decidedly dramatic climax:
(resounding laughter from those dear souls seated in front of me).
Honestly, there are too many more instances to name, so I will just leave it at that. You get the point, and if this same experience doesn't or hasn't happened to you before, you can at least be thankful. For those who have been in the same position I was, why do think that many teens act this way when they go to the movies? Is it because they are with friends and they feel like it's their duty to be as crude and reprehensible as possible? Is it because they haven't been raised by people who have taught them to act civilized? Who knows. All I do know is that those select people in the movie theater last night with me proved that they were in no way mature enough to handle an R-rated movie, even if they were 16 or 17-years-old, much less an actual relationship with someone else. If their parents are not to be faulted, then I pity them all, and if I had a child who acted like those hoodlums, I might be forced to consider suicide. It's the easy, cowardly way out, but trying to reform such unruly, distasteful, disrespectful teenagers seems like too much effort when most of them aren't worth the skin on their bodies.
I truly hope that whoever opts to read this realizes that I do not mean all teenagers; just a select few. Heck, I myself am all of 17-years-old, and you know what? I am personally proud of who I am, and am thankful that I don't act like those "others," nor do I hang around with people who act like that. But after last night, the future of today's American youth seems seriously in jeopardy. I'm admittedly very worried about where these teens are going to be in ten, twenty, thirty years from now. Is it just a stage their going through? Most likely, but if I am a teen as well and know better than to act like that, even when I'm with a large group of my friends, then why should it give them the right to act like a pack of wild asses.
I have decided, based on what happened last night, that I am going to be seeing "Cruel Intentions" again on Monday night, hopefully when there won't be many people there. After all, how can you possibly judge what you think of a movie when you haven't even been able to enjoy it in the least, nor been allowed to even get involved in the characters?
If, by chance, any teens are reading this that fit the description of the hooligans I have described, then I hope you keep in mind what I have said. When you are in public, including when you go to see a movie, why don't you try to respect everyone else who has spent their money to actually watch a film, instead of simply goofing off and spouting out offensive remarks that question the maturity level of yourself? The "people" I attended "Cruel Intentions" with March 5th may have physically looked like young adults, but they more emotionally resembled a bunch of 7-year-olds.