Monday Morning Ethicist: Movie Masochism


Chuck Klosterman
 is The Ethicist for the NYT. I am the Monday Morning Ethicist. 

Yesterday’s second question for Chuck:

I go to the movies often. Sometimes I’ll see something that is terrible or too violent for my tastes. Is it O.K. to walk out and go into another movie? Or even ask for my money back?  

Chuck said: “Buying a ticket does not award you 180 minutes inside the walls of the building (which you can use in whatever way you want). Your ticket gives you access to a specific movie in a specific location at a specific time. That’s the transaction.” He went on to say, in so many words, with movies and other art forms, you pays your money and takes your chances. Caveat emptor, mofo. 

I say: Good point, Chuck. This is exactly why I have proposed to the major film studios that they work with national theater chains to install locking seat belts in all cinemas across the country.

Aw, poor moviegoer. You failed to realize that a 2013 action-adventure film starring a white man as a Native American might be a bad idea, but only after you were a few minutes into it? And now there’s two hours of trainwreck left to watch? Too effing bad, Kemo-Sabe. You’re strapped in, because Chuck says that’s the transaction you made. 

And don’t try that, “Oh, I just need to use the restroom,” crap, either. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll sit your ass down, comply with the usher/transaction guard who strap-locks you in, and watch the entirety of whatever hideous apocalyptic shit show you made the ill-advised choice to buy a ticket for. 

Matter of fact, along with locking seatbelts, I’m going to sell the major studios on installing drop down eyelid stretchers, like the ones they used on Malcom Macdowell during the ultra-violence aversion therapy in “A Clockwork Orange.”

In short, someone has to suffer for this art. And if it’s not going to be the artists, it may as well be you, sucker.