We go because we love movies. We go for the delightful or frightful experience of being swept into another reality for a couple of hours. We go crazy when bombarded with highly stylized Mercedes and Coke ads before previews and a show.
The big screen in a darkened room has always had a dramatic impact on the captive viewer, more than a television screen and much more than a computer monitor or iPhone. And they know it. They bet on it. They exploit it. They profit from it.
They are corporate advertisers for soft drinks, jeans, cars and all of the other products being shoved down our throats everywhere we turn.
There once was a place where we could escape it; the movies. That was high art, people. That was art not marred by slick images of low performance drivers in high performance sports vehicles racing irresponsibly down canyons, egging on male viewers to do the same to be cool. U dig?
Oh, they’re crafty, all right. They even design ads that resemble film trailers to confuse us. You pay to see the movie, but you are stuck in your seat, prey of the corporate beast on an unfair playing ground.
What can we consumers do to combat this hideous phenomenon? I mean isn’t avoiding this the exact reason we opt for Weeds and Hung and Nurse Jackie and all of the non-commercial television shows? Isn’t this precisely why we curtail Saturday cartoons for our vulnerable young ones who absorb the subliminal message that you must buy products to be happy?
Now you can shout out “action” and join the Captive Motion Picture Audience of America’s (CMPAA) campaign to Say NO to TV commercials before feature films at movie theaters.
In an open letter to the Regal Entertainment Group and other theater owners, this organization puts forth the case:
This is the last straw. You’ve done a great job conditioning the movie-going public to accept pre-movie billboard ads, your commercial theater radio networks, and nearly every other form of commercialism under the sun. Now, after the lights go down and we’re entrenched in our seats, you’ve decided to expand into pushing TV commercials. It now seems the only difference between a movie screen and a TV screen is size. We, the captive audience, have had enough. TV commercials belong on television, not before movies we pay for.
Captive Audience says its primary goal is to urge theater owners to discontinue showing “invasive”, TV-like commercials before the beginnings of movies. Since many theater chains have a monopoly on first-run films in many areas of the country, it considers the practices to be unfair and intolerable. I couldn’t agree more, and it’s good to know someone is taking a stand.
Perhaps they will show that TV-like ads will prove unprofitable as they spark a consumer backlash. Beyond enraged viewers like me booing loudly at the screen and throwing popcorn in protest, consumers are urged to sign an online petition. Yes, it’s a more civil way to go.
Among other excellent statements, it reads:
We, the undersigned, believe that the further proliferation of advertisements into venues where the viewer cannot disregard them, such as a darkened movie theater, greatly detracts from the escapism of a motion picture. We believe the forced viewing of commercials before films will prove to be unprofitable for theaters that engage in the practice, and further alienate audiences into seeking alternative means of entertainment. We hope to urge Regal, operating the largest theater circuit in the United States, to set an example within its industry and discontinue the showing invasive, TV-like commercials from the beginnings of movies.
So far there are more than 3,300 signatures, an indication lots of us are mad as hell and can’t take it anymore. Bombarding us with ads at cinema venues goes against a green sensibility - and does not have a happy ending as far as conservation is concerned.
Perhaps this is why in Chicago, even more extreme steps have been taken by a school teacher who filed a class action lawsuit against Loews Cineplex Entertainment Group and Loews Piper’s Theatres, INC. for showing commercials. Miriam Fisch’s suit stated that “failure to start the movie at the scheduled time and only after foisting commercial ads on the movie-going audience constitutes a breach of contract.” Although the judge through out the lawsuit, the teacher got her message across.