A British film fan wants to bring 'silent movies' back by prohibiting popcorn in all cinemas.
Mike Shotton, a self-employed author from Newcastle, northeast England, says that his viewing pleasure is wrecked by the sound of people crunching and munching on snacks. It was during “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” that the 39-year-old snapped, saying that he was “infuriated by the amount of noise” and decided to setup a petition, which currently has 484 signatures, calling the government to blanket ban popcorn in cinemas across the country. Shotton explains why the picture house is best enjoyed in peace and quiet.
Why have you started this campaign?
– Popcorn has always bothered me; the sound of it for a place that requires quiet is completely inappropriate. I recently went to watch the new Star Wars film with my wife, and although the film was filled with laser blasts and spaceship noises, it was almost impossible to concentrate due to the volume coming from grazers sat around me. I’d waited excitedly for a year to see the movie, but I went home annoyed and decided to start a petition to eliminate this substance from cinemas.
What’s the problem with popcorn?
– It just doesn't make sense that a place that requests that its customers be quiet during the film, breaks its own rules by selling one of the noisiest foods on earth on its premises. Popcorn also smells, but, along with the sound, during screenings most people have become used to it and now associate it with a cinema trip. In brief though, it's noisy, it smells, it only tastes of whatever you cover it with, and it needs to be gone.
What benefits would people have if this popular snack were outlawed?
– The benefits are simple: we will be able to watch the film we have paid a good amount to see, in peace. Imagine how much cinema staff would appreciate it! Having worked in a cinema for a while in my early twenties I can tell you just how disgusting every screen looks before staff clean it up for the next showing. I'm sure we've all encountered "sticky floor syndrome" in the cinema – that would become a thing of the past too.
How is the public supporting you?
– Well, as I expected, popcorn at the cinema still splits opinions, and I have been shocked by the strength of feeling expressed on both sides of the debate. I have had incredible support for the campaign though, including people who have never stepped foot in the UK. It's been a really great couple of weeks since the launch of the petition in terms of a positive reaction. I’ve had people messaging me saying they will pick up the campaign and get it going in their own countries. And I’ve seen evidence that it is happening in, for example, Australia and New Zealand.
What do the critics say?
– The general public is against my actions, some more strongly and outwardly than others. I received all kinds of responses over Twitter – some dishing the insults. But most people keep it clean and are baffled why I'd want to have their beloved popcorn banned.
You also have a duel with rival petition organizer. Who’s winning at the moment?
– I started this petition after coming home infuriated from the cinema. It started picking up signatures and I went to bed. When I woke up the next morning, a friend sent me a link to a counter petition specifically aimed at stopping me from attempting to get popcorn banned from UK cinemas. I found the source and we made an agreement that whoever's petition had the least signatures by close of “play” would have to drop the petition. My opponent lost, leaving me free to push the campaign unhindered.
What are your next steps?
– I want to get a celebrity to front the campaign. We all know in today's world nothing gets very far in terms of support unless it has a recognizable name attached. In the last couple of days I’ve been bugging some well known celebs who have expressed a dislike for eating at the cinema. If a well known celebrity with millions of supporters tweets about my campaign just once or twice, it can start making some serious headway.
When can we expect to see an outcome?
– I anticipate this will be a long slog. No big victories are won in minutes; there are lots of people to convince, such as law makers, and of course cinemas themselves, as its their main source of income. I think we can make inroads.
– By Dmitry Belyaev