This week an article about a terrible moviegoer went viral, Roger Ebert implanting its virility into the Internet’s heart. The story is of a movie critic, Drew McWeeny, who went to a free screening of the film This Means War. Unfortunately, he sat next to a “silver-haired woman” in her mid-fifties to early sixties who had no problem blabbering on about whatever she wanted, not taking note of his requests to calm down and, literally, take her feet off of him. The article has become a bit of a “Behave in a movie theatre!” manifesto, a vilification of this woman who is now the faceless poster person for the mannerless. While the piece is likely the only positive press for This Means War, it highlights a very big problem in Los Angeles as the terrible woman in question is an Angeleno.
Reading it, you will be very entertained and can echo McWeeny’s sentiments. No one likes it when a jackass near you talks through a movie. It’s rude! It was a little salty to read that it all went down at the AMC Century City, though, a place that is not known for being particularly unkindly or rude. It makes us all look like jackasses, another Los Angeles person without manners, too tied up in herself to care about anyone else. It’s sad and gross that we are those people.
Of course, none of us know this person and none of us are this person. That person is always “someone else.” Although not the subject, the article did underline a very, very, very big problem in Los Angeles–not mannerless movie theatre talkers but mannerless talkers in general.
Our take on this has been a long time coming, well before McWeeny shared this woman, because literally every other time we eat out, we are placed next to some meatheads or airheads or stupidheads that insist on blathering on about things no one cares about. Last Friday at Little Dom’s, the table of three next to us loudly regaled us with tales of their veganism and glueten freeism and where Little Dom’s ranked in their minds. That did not stop them from eating pizza, though. A few months ago at Millie’s Cafe, a guy and a girl exchanged one upping tales of entertainment parties they were “invited” to because they are such accomplished “actors,” where one weaseled his way to speak with a Judd Apatow crony at the Funny Or Die Holiday Party. Last month at Wood and Vine, we sat next to a gaggle consisting of two gays, a girl, and an Australian straight who spoke at length about their workout routines, how surprising it is that the straight cannot “get ass” because he is “so gorgeous” and “has such a sexy accent,” and how excited they were to follow up dinner with a night at Dillon’s (BLEH). Yesterday at a Coffee Bean in North Hollywood, I sat next to two bros who chatted about Android apps, whilst concurrently shaking Muscle Milk concoctions over their crotches like it was some sort of tribal bonding ritual.
I can go on and on and on with more tales of these people but I will stop.
These are all a few examples of things that stood out most while dining around town recently. As you can see, these people are not confined to a specific neighborhood or social group or even economic standing. It’d be lovely if we could attribute this to Hollywood garbage or Hipster scum but there is no confining these people to a singular group. Instead, they are everywhere, blending into any social environment, unseen, very similar to the aliens in They Live (but we don’t have any glasses to snoop them out, unfortunately). It’s an epidemic in Los Angeles, these diarrhea mouth talkative types who have no idea how loud they are talking.
Maybe you haven’t noticed this or had a situation like this, attributing your experiences to restaurants being too loud these days. But, they exist. I assure you. Have you ever sat through a meal, barely speaking to your company because of it being too loud? Have you ever been pulled out of a conversation because of something you overheard? Have you ever been so distracted by neighbors at a restaurant that you were unable to concentrate, let alone eat? Have you ever requested to switch tables mid-meal because of people you were seated next to? Have you ever had to ask a stranger to speak quieter? If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, you have fallen victim to these types of people.
I’ve lived in a lot of cities as an adult because of a now dormant case of wanderlust (and being a former military brat) and have never encountered this. People in D.C. are cautiously polite, New Yorkers are politely impolite, Atlantans are often quiet as mice, Seattleites have a perfect approach to tone, and San Franciscans can often speak loudly, but not disagreeably so. Angelenos? They will blabber on about the most inane shit forever and will inconsiderately ruin your meal (or, in McWeeny’s case, your movie).
Why? Why are we so mannerless in the Southland? I know that I’ve been this person once or twice, as I mentally recall a time at Cliff’s Edge where I participated in a loud, somewhat bawdy, conversation about sex practices with some gay bros. I could feel the family who were freshly arrived from a church cringing with every mention of the word “penis.” Are we just too comfortable with ourselves in Los Angeles or too sensitive to others in this city to feel this way? Maybe all this stems from constant great weather, making us inclined to always be in loud Springtime euphoria? Maybe everyone really does move to Los Angeles to become an artist or performer or creator, therefore requiring every single person in this city to always be “on”? Maybe we are just a city consisting of people who are all young souls, therefore spry in the vocals? Maybe this geographical location strips every person of their sense of self, leaving us all self-unaware?
No idea. There is quite possibly no way to figure out where Angelenos’ lack of manners come from but it is possible to pinpoint what this form of no manners is: an inability to have an indoor voice that considers every person around them, oftentimes dipping into an incredible inability to grasp your physical reach. We are a big city and, apparently, we are full of just as big egos and personalities. We should all think about how we behave in public and be more aware that what we do and say in public can and often does greatly affect those around us. Leave your loudmouths at home and don’t be that person.
Let’s let other cities take the onus of being the most mannerless off of us because that’s not a cool title to have. But, for now, we’ll have to live with the reality that the woman who plagued Drew McWeeny is all too real and is very, very, very Los Angeles.