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Blogger Calls 911 on Man Using Cell in Theater at TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival. A place where studio execs aren’t allowed to publicly look down on bloggers. Though some are making that really hard to do.

During a screening of The Sacrament, FirstShowing’s Alex Billington became increasingly annoyed with a guest who he believed was pirating the movie on his cell phone. A logical conclusion because all you need is a crappy cell phone camera and any random mic pointed at the screen to create rips people will want to watch.

Anyway, our friend Alex here talked to the theater managers who determined there was no pirating going on. That’s when he took matters into his own hands and called 911. You ever hear a 911 operator laugh at someone? Just ask Alex to describe it to you. In an email to Buzzfeed, he explained,

The man in the front row had his phone out pointed towards the screen for the first 10 minutes. I complained once to the theater managers, who looked and said there was no one with their phone on. I returned, and 5 minutes later he had his phone out again in front of him, pointed towards the screen. I thought I might be witnessing an act of piracy, a major crime being committed, and wished to report it to the proper authorities.

The call made was to report an act of piracy in progress, a major crime that many signs around TIFF remind people is a punishable offense. I simply requested that an officer confront and confirm that he was not pirating. Another 10 minutes later, a venue manager intercepted the report and responded claiming he was only texting, and subsequently stated he had the right to use his phone in this screening. My complaints at that time, based on their response, turned to the policy of TIFF and allowing phones to be used.

Then he went on Twitter to complain to anyone who would listen, even going straight to the top. Not unlike that kid in middle school who’ll raise his hand and waited for the teacher to acknowledge him just to whine that you were talking in the middle of class. Alex even tweeted the director. I’m surprised he didn’t also tweet Obama.

The reactions to Alex’s overreaction was divided. Some were applauding him for finally standing up to rude cell phone usage during a screening and questioning TIFF’s policy of allowing it while others thought he was an idiot for calling 911.

However, the plot thickened when an old article on Chud was discovered highlightying a bit of hypocrisy. Posted back in 2009, it described how Alex was being a douchebag by tweeting throughout the entire screening of Crank 2 because he didn’t take the movie seriously.

If Billington worked for someone other than the parents who finance his lifestyle, I would demand he be fired. Using your phone during a screening is inexcusable, no matter what the movie is. That theater had people who paid their money to see the movie, and whether you think the film is a joke or not it’s unbelievably rude to behave that way. And who is Billington to decide which films are worthy of respect or not? He believed The Dark Knight was a ‘cinematic revolution,’ but what if I thought Twittering through that film was fine? What if I didn’t think the movie and the audience deserved the basic respect of keeping my fucking phone off?

I’m in the camp that people using their cell phones during movies are asshats. Mainly because I don’t like my retinas being burned by their screen while trying to watch a movie nor do I want to hear about where they put the leftovers. I’m not going to call 911 though. I prefer the more passive aggressive approach. Lightly kicking their chair until they stop.

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