Just Turn the Damned Thing Off: The War Against Cell Phones In Theaters

Just Turn the Damned Thing
Off: The War Against Cell Phones In Theaters


Leonard Zwelling

         I am as dependent on my smart phone as anyone else. Believe
it or not, I actually do send and receive telephone calls on it allowing me to
speak to a real live person and hear what that person has to say. It does
receive emails and text messages and without that Google Maps thing, I would
still be searching for a friend’s house in the hills overlooking La Jolla.

all like our phones, but I am reminded of too much of anything being a bad thing.
The ultimate example of a succinct comment in this regard is from the one, the
only Groucho Marx who is purported to have said on his television show the

[A] contestant on Groucho Marx’s 1950s TV
quiz show tells him that she has 10 children, and Marx asks why she has so
many. The woman answers, “Because I love children … and I love my
husband. Marx replies: “I love my cigar, too, but I take it out of my
mouth once in a while.”


(This link makes claims both for and
against the fact that the great man ever said this. It was surely never on the
air as the censors of the time never would have allowed it. The truth may be
that it was on his RADIO program that Mrs. Story and Groucho had their
interchange and that the sensibilities of the time in 1947 never allowed this
to be seen or heard. I know, too bad.)

point is not lost on anyone. There are limits to everything from cigars to cell
phones to, well, you know…this is a family-friendly blog.


         Last week at Lincoln Center, the marvelous Tony-winning (and
frequent Law and Order enhancing) Patti
LuPone had had enough of cell phones being used during a live performance. She
grabbed a
phone in active use by a patron in the second row. All I have to say is good for her!

         It is bad enough that I am constantly walking past people
who I think are nuts because they are talking to themselves only to notice the
cell phone stuffed in their pocket or the headphones with dangling microphone
through which they are conversing. (I also hate that Spock-like ear thing
people clamp on their lobes.) I understand that you can walk and chew gum, but
you sure shouldn’t be walking down 5th Avenue in New York City
chatting away on a cell phone with traffic and millions of your closest friends
whizzing by. Surely the texting while driving concept is poor, poor, poor and
worthy of severe fines, if not jail time for texting while operating a car
really endangers the lives and sanities others.

         I understand that I am an old man, a curmudgeon if ever
there was one and proud of it. My kids can make their laptops do tricks and
their cell phones stop time. I cannot. But if I see you in a movie theater or
at any live entertainment venue with one of those damned things operating,
including taking pictures which is just as annoying if not more so than the
texting, I’m calling the nearest usher and I don’t mean on my cell, by email or
by text. By yelling!

         To quote the great Lewis Black: “STOP IT!”

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