Words fail me at the moment.   Well, not really.....but polite ones are hard
to form at the moment, though.    -rf

------ Forwarded Message From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com> Date: Fri,
04 Nov 2005 08:58:57 -0800

-------- Original Message -------- Subject: MPAA kills movie experience.
Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 11:22:20 -0500 (EST) From: James Reid
<[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To: declan@well.com

Hi Declan,

My girlfriend and I are writers here in Toronto and I thought I'd share
this, as if you needed evidence that privacy abuses are out of hand, here's
our completely insane experience with the MPAA from last night.


I wonder what kind of dystopian cyberpunk future we live in when you are
physically searched before entering a movie theatre.

Last night (November 3rd), my girlfriend brought me along to see a screening
of Derailed at the Paramount theatre in Toronto, which she had to review for
a magazine she works for. The lineup for the screening was unusually long,
as I think they also fill seats at press screenngs with radio call-in
winners, who in hindsight, might have accepted such poor treatment in
exchange for the ostensible privilege of paying for $30 worth of parking and
fast food at a free $13 movie.

Anyway, the line was moving slowly because they were asking customers to
raise their arms so that they could be electronically frisked with a metal
detector, and women's purses were being searched by uniformed security
guards.  Try to remember that this is Toronto, Canada we're talking about
here, not New York, Tel Aviv or London.

People who submitted to the search (everyone from what I could tell) had
their cellphones taken from them and checked at a table set up in front of
the theatre and they were given a ticket to reclaim it when they left.

I was having none of this, and checked the back of my ticket stub to ensure
that there was no mention of being required to submit to a search listed as
a condition of sale. As my girlfriend and I made it to the front of the
line, the guard looked at me and asked me to raise my arms for the search. I
politely declined saying "No, thank you", and proceeded to the ticket taker.
I could hear him calling "Sir! Sir!" behind me, but even though I slowed my
pace in case he was really going to do something about it, as I had
expected, I wasn't stopped.

The ticket taker took my ticket and I waited for my girlfriend just inside
the gate, as her purse was being subjected to a thorough going through by
one of the guards.

Since she was there for work, and her deadline was that night, she was not
ready to risk not seeing the movie. Her 150 words won't have room for what
happened next.

Her phone was taken from her and put in a sealed plastic bag with a claim
ticket, and she joined me where I was waiting, past the gate, and we walked
into the theatre together.

To add further insult to the debacle at the gate, near the exits at stage
right and left were two uniformed security guards at each door, all four
with video cameras scanning the crowd and making themselves very

This was not just a bit of pre-show MPAA theatre, they stood there for the
entirity of the movie, red LED's glowing, scanning the crowd to remind us
that we were under close surviellence and our actions were being recorded.

If you have sat in a chair in a dark room watching disturbing scenes unfold
in front of you, while four uniformed people with video cameras stand in
front of your, silently recording your reactions, you might be reminded of
scenarios from a Clockwork Orange, Brazil, 1984, Videodrome, and strangely,
that 90's relic: SFW.

Security guards regularly use handheld video cameras to harrass and
intimidate people, particularly during political rallies and protests, as
the guards know that the cameras carry with them a clear implication of
future retribution against those being recorded. The cameras are quite
literally, a threat.

( The threat is that if you do not behave as the camera holder asks, the
recording of your actions will be used to persecute or discrace you.)

Upon leaving the theatre, my girlfriend and I had to stop at the security
desk to claim her phone, which involved them searching through a pile of
bagged cellphones for the correct one. We took another moment to turn the
phone on and wait for signal in the threatre to validate that we in fact had
the correct phone.

My girlfriend had said that if she hadn't already agreed to her deadline,
she would have made a point of walking out of the screening and giving the
PR person a talking to. I did not confront the camera wielding guards in the
theatre because she was my host she had a job to do.

Only people who think they have done something wrong, or deserve to be
searched, submit to that kind of authority, which is why guards get away
with it, and the rest of us continue to be subjected to it and it becomes

Anyway, apparently this is Alliance Atlantis' idea of how to treat an
audience, then I for one can certainly live without seeing any of their
films, and we will be skipping movies at the Paramount theatre. I also know
that at least one reviewer will also be seeing her movies elsewhere too.

I would also say that this is further evidence that movie studios are losing
revenue because of the increasingly poor movie-going experience and general
low-quality of the movies they are making, as after this, I can certainly
undertstand why someone would prefer to watch a movie on their 14 inch
screen than suffer the indignity of a multiplex.

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