Media Circus

Mortified, my two kids shushed me when I booed at the Coke commercial being inflicted upon us at the movie theater. Setting aside my disappointment at their lack of spine vis-à-vis civil disobedience — be it ever so meek — it still took me until the opening scene began an hour or so later to un-peeve myself enough to focus on the film (something about young wizards; I disremember the title).

When I purchase a ticket to the movies, I, perhaps naively, believe said purchase comes with certain rights and privileges, not the least of which is the right to view the film in its entirety and uninterrupted by commercial messages. To be sure, none of the theaters have been so bold as to insert a Bowflex infomercial between reels or punctuate a cliffhanger scene with a Victoria’s Secret spot, but can we be so sure such indiscretions aren’t far behind? If we continue to sit there silently and not booing at the raft of ads showing up before the previews, can we even blame the theaters if they confuse our silence with complacency, and up the barrage in the future?

I, for one, will not take this lying down. I am seriously considering drafting a note to the owners of theater chains such as Mann, AMC, and Loews. My letter will point out the historic — if tacit — agreement between moviegoers and theater owners that forbids the incursion of commercial messages with the same sanctity with which the Geneva Conventions protect the rights of war prisoners.

Surely, I’ll write, the ever-growing price of admission, combined with steadily rising box-office grosses, would obviate measures as draconian as introducing TV-style commercial messages to the entertainment experience. Or, if they persist with the commercials, shouldn’t we then expect some commensurate decrease in ticket prices as our “entertainment partners” at Toyota, Nike, and The Gap offset costs?

Cinema owners should sign a pact — in artificial butter flavoring, perhaps — promising never to interrupt a film with commercial advertising. Pummel us, I’ll say, hammer us, inundate us with spots prior to or mixed in with the previews, emblazon the popcorn bags and drink cups with commercial messages, even put corporate logos on the gum that invariably sticks to our shoes … but then let us enjoy (or loathe, as the case may be) the film in its entirety, unmolested by Coke ads.

Certainly, the reasonable men and women who run the AMCs and Manns of the world will be able to go along with this, right? But, realist that I am, I recognize the fact that they can’t respond to every letter received. So I shall go once again to the megaplex and boo and hiss at the screen, only this time more quietly — perhaps even only to myself — so as to spare my children and those around us the embarrassment that so often accompanies civil disobedience. I must be cognizant of the fact that, as children coming of age in a time when the latest Bond flick has more product placements than cleavage shots, they must be properly groomed and naturalized for this new ad climate, where not only is there no sanctuary or safe haven from ad impressions, but no expectation of such. Resistance, as Star Trek’s Borg say, is futile, so we may as well accept our fate and, to the best of our ability, enjoy the ride.

A 64-ounce vat of Coke, anyone?

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