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Text Message Scrolls Underneath the Movie Screen?

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 17, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | April 17, 2009 |

Growing up, I watched a lot of MTV, specifically Adam Curry’s show, which was some sort of Top Ten countdown of the day’s most popular music videos. I probably stopped paying much attention to it around the time I wandered off to college, but over the years, I tuned back in occasionally for the new iteration, “TRL,” and what pissed me off most about it — besides the incredibly awful videos they played — was the teenage girls out on the street who broke into the videos to screech with the ear-piercing sound of a thousand melting suns, and also the crawl at the bottom of the screen displaying hundreds of little text messages, commenting on the videos being played. Obnoxious, right?

Can you imagine that happening in your local movie theater? Well, it’s already starting to happen. First, in Chicago. According to the Tribune:

Normally, rampant texting in a movie theater is grounds for ejection.

But in St. Charles, it’s encouraged.

During a screening of “Zoolander,” audience members could heckle the movie via text, then watch as their comments appeared onscreen with the film: “I want a comb-over like Trump” and “Breakdance fighting is becoming more popular in UFC.”

“I’ve described it as a mash-up of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ and Twitter,” said Rien Heald, the Naperville inventor of MuVChat.

Thus far, MuVChat is in the early stages, with three test screenings at Classic Cinemas’ Charlestowne 18 theater. The next will be Saturday’s screening of “Dodgeball” at 10:30 p.m.

“Normally, you don’t want people texting on their phones, [the glowing screens] are kind of like fireflies inside the auditorium,” said Charlestowne manager Randy Pollock. “But if everybody is doing it, it’s fun.”

Damn. This is a terrible idea. It’s not bad enough that the douchester over at was live-tweeting a midnight screening of Crank High Voltage last night, but can you imagine being subjected to the exclamation point, Woot-heavy ramblings of a bunch of goddamn teenagers while you’re trying to watch a movie? Sure, they’re only testing it out right now on older movies, but it’s a slippery goddamn slope. It’s not MSTK if it takes you three minutes to type in a text message, and the scene you’re commenting on has already passed. Plus, how the hell can you watch the movie if your goddamn nose is in your iPhone. Can you imagine a text-message screening of Twilight? It’d jam phone signals in an entire metropolitan area.

Seriously: Who thinks this is a good idea? It won’t be long before those same text-messages will start scrolling across the screen underneath an episode of “Lost.” And that, folks, is when go into Uncle Ted Boynton’s basement, break into his whiskey, and pray for the zombie invasion.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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