Last night, comedians Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, and Scott Aukerman organized an event at a Burbank movie theater in which they brought together 30 Twitter users (including Parks and Recreation's Aziz Ansari) to tweet during a midnight screening of this weekend's critically acclaimed Jason Statham drama Crank 2: High Voltage. The event was theater-sanctioned, and all tweeting was restricted to the back rows so as not to disturb other moviegoers. Even so, ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.
Through much of the first part of the film, there were no problems, and lifecasting happened without issue (see the complete transcript here):
@paulscheer: Spoiler Alert: Gun Enema
@erockappel: Bai Ling is subtitled. And she's speaking English.
@azizansari: A dog just bit a cops duck [sic?] off!
Then, however, a few crotchety movie bloggers who weren't even in the theater caught wind of the tweeting session. Incensed that such an event might irresponsibly encourage other non-famous, less-funny moviegoers to use cell phones during screenings, they spoke out. CHUD's Devin Faraci blasted First Showing's Alex Billington, who was in attendance ("Solemn promise: if I am at a movie where @firstshowing is twittering, I will smash his fucking phone"). And in a character-limit-busting rant worthy of @courtneylover79, Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles sounded off:
At the Alamo Drafthouse — if someone were caught twittering, they would be removed from the theater without a refund ... Movie Theaters are places to leave the outside world behind. If there was even one person not a part of that "Twatflix" group — whose experience was less because of annoying lit screens, it damns everyone that did it ... [To Aziz Ansari] Listen — my biggest problem with it is this. Look, you're an incredibly talented and funny man. And look you have over 13,000 followers — lots of impressionable folks that might think it'd be a gas to Twitter during movies. In this case it is a Crank 2, but it could be OBSERVE & REPORT — or any other film — and those lights from those screens could annoy you, me, whoever ... It comes down to the fact that many of these people are people with followings and using your phone to twitter during movies is a disgusting and revolting action. It shows a lack of respect for the very medium that they profess to work in, write about and spend their lives being a part of. And while they did get the back row — others may not be as discreet — and this is something that should not be proud of doing, but to abandon doing.
As for us, we fail to see any harm in a hilarious, seemingly well-organized event. And if Aziz Ansari's 16,000 followers are really so impressionable and vulnerable to the power of suggestion that they'd mistake his tweets for an endorsement of wanton cell-phone use during all movie screenings, then we'd certainly rather have them read about Crank 2 on his Twitter than see it for themselves.