Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Anil Dash Is, of Course, Wrong

Anil Dash:

There’s been a delightful debate the last few days about how to accommodate the increasing number of people who want the experience of watching movies in public theaters to fit in with the way they live the rest of their lives: Connected to others, and augmented or even mediated through digital technology.

Interestingly, the response from many creative people, who usually otherwise see themselves as progressive and liberal, has been a textbook case of cultural conservatism. The debate has been dominated by shushers, and these people aren’t just wrong about the way movies are watched in theaters, they’re wrong about the way the world works.

Shushers think water isn’t wet, and that fire isn’t hot. Golly.

This list of responses pops up all the time, whether it’s for arguing why women should not wear pants, or defending slavery, or trying to preserve a single meaning for the word “ironic”, or fighting marriage equality, or claiming rap isn’t “real” music, or in any other time when social conservatives want to be oppressive assholes to other people.

The insistence that we all paid to sit and watch a movie together is compared to slavery literally five paragraphs into this turd of an article.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a way to watch movies in a quiet theater with no other lights or screens on. I think that’s fine. It’d be easier for you to have exactly the hermetically sealed, human-free, psychopathic isolation chamber of cinematic perfection that you seek at home, but if you want to try to achieve this in a public space, please enjoy the Alamo Drafthouse or other excellent theaters designed to accommodate this impulse.

Why don’t you open a movie theatre chain for texting and talking assholes? I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, Anil, but some of us don’t have your kind of coin. Paying fifteen bucks per person for a movie is expensive for a lot of people, so it tends to be a special occasion for them (us). If you’re chatting to your friend in the middle of The Big Plot Twist, we’re going to have problems. I didn’t pay to hear you blab.

The intellectual bankruptcy of this desire is made plain, however, when the persons of shush encounter those who treat a theater like any other public space.

The difference, of course, is that you don’t pay fifteen bucks to sit on a park bench.

Let me put this in terms you can appreciate, Anil: say you’re having dinner at the Savoy, and the table next to you is full of rowdy, spoiled twenty-somethings. They’re not technically doing anything wrong by being loud, obnoxious, and drunk out of their minds, but the Savoy isn’t an Applebees. There are different expectations.

But shushers don’t respond in any of these ways. They say, “We have two different expectations over this public behavior, and mine is the only valid way. First, I will deny that anyone has other norms. Then, when incontrovertibly faced with the reality that these people exist, I will vilify them and denigrate them. Once this tactic proves unpersuasive, I will attempt to marginalize them and shame them into compliance. At no point will I consider finding ways for each of us to accommodate our respective preferences, for mine is the only valid opinion.” This is typically followed by systematically demonstrating all of the most common logical fallacies in the process of denying that others could, in good conscience, arrive at conclusions other than their own.

Logical fallacies like, say, comparing shushers to people who think slavery is okay, or this:

Surely, those who disagree will appeal to tradition, to convention. Like the flat-earthers or the climate change deniers, they’ll wish the strength of their emotion could overcome the inexorability of cold, hard facts.

And the comparison to Indian theatres near the end is simply obtuse.