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Dine-in Movie Theaters are The Worst

Shay Hayden


First problem — lights. They’re dim, sure, but with glow-in-the-dark menus and waiters with pen-lights, I’m watching Manchester By The Sea in a laser-tag arena. Not the vibe. If it’s actually dark enough that I can focus on the movie, now I can’t see my food. Eating in the dark is kind of like having sex blind-folded — enjoyable, but fraught with peril. I think I dipped my French-fry in the ketchup, but was it the guacamole? Better give it a lick and find out.


Then there are the waiters. Using your phone in a theater is sacrilege, but somebody FaceTiming in grandma and getting her up to speed might be less distracting. There’s one popular dine-in theater chain where the waiters crawled on the floor to keep from obscuring your view, which I found to be simultaneously horrifying and quite thoughtful. I wonder what people would think of Parasite in such a place. At the time I thought of Human Centipede, and any of the horrors of that movie seemed imminently possible, as my neighbor had just ordered the grilled octopus — at a movie theater.


Not that I am a food snob — I enjoy eating food that others think is repulsive, and in certain states of mind, even food that I think is gross (freezer-burned ice cream is classic, expired and putrid chicken is one I won’t repeat, but at the time it hit the spot). I dated a girl who used to rifle through dorm trash cans in search of pizza boxes with leftover crusts, and the first time I watched her do this, I was sure she was the one (she left me). 


The issue isn’t the quality of my clam linguini — it’s that navigating these sea-shells is making me miss crucial subtitles. Doing two great things at once often makes both worse, like thanksgiving dinner on acid, or driving while jerking off.


But in the grand scheme of things, movie theaters are so wonderful that dine-ins are only a weaker example of what are, for me, society’s most sacred spaces. Here, popcorn is the eucharist — the perfect snack to shove at your face by the handful, never taking your eyes off the screen, washing it down with a slushy, ensuring that when the trailers end you’re as sticky as a toddler climbing out of a carnival bouncy castle. But ordering a beer at the movies is cool. I used to be so hungover all the time that a single drink on a movie night could induce a panic attack, but now that I’m loveless shut-in, getting a little buzz on as I watch Minions 3 might be a perfect night out. So keep your dine-in theaters, you date-nighters and complainers of “scratchy seats”. Just keep going to the movies, where you can share a space with anybody and everybody, even grilled-octopus guy, and have your hearts broken and lifted together, understanding that we all share an undeniable, essential humanity, never to be fully understood, but felt in the primacy of stories well told, before I sprint to the bathroom because I’m about to pee my pants get your kids out of the way that movie was so long oh no oh no oh no.


If you enjoyed today’s moot, follow Shay on Instagram. If you are feeling generous, consider donating to Save the Children, Shay’s charity of choice.

*For each moot, we generate a cover image using  DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'Dine-in Movie Theaters are The Worst' in the style of Charley Harper, the Shay's artist of choice.*

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DALL·E 2022-10-23 17.20.05 - painting of a dine in movie theatre in the style of Charlie H

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