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the Gauntlet

Booze creeps into the multiplex

Famous Players sets to licence movie theatres

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Point: Esther E. Steeves says beer shouldn't be sold in theatres.

Selling booze at the movies is a bad idea. However, Famous Players doesn't think so.

According to an article in last week's Calgary Herald, licensed areas may soon appear in local theatres. At first consideration, this might not sound like such a bad idea, and there are already lots of people who sneak in a mickey under their jacket. After all, who doesn't find pleasure at the thought of sipping on a beer while relaxing at the movies? However, there's a vast difference between secretly spiking your $5 Kool-Aid and openly knocking back a few at the big-screen.

This difference lies in the unspoken code of conduct expected at theatres among viewers. There are already more than enough sober movie-goers who boisterously laugh at scenes that aren't funny or drown out the scenes that are by chatting with their friends. Add booze to the scenario and this type of belligerency will only get worse. Sneaking in a flask at least requires enough self-control to remain inconspicuous. With legal access to liquor, people will feel justified to get a little silly during the show, and cinema atmosphere will rival that of a football game.

When I saw Blackhawk Down, for instance, every other scene was tainted by the booming laughter of someone who apparently found a lot of humour in a graphic anti-war movie. If either one of us had been drinking, the evening would have been more appropriately titled Black-Eye Now.

Licensed theatres have been attempted in the U.K. and Montreal with varying degrees of success. While some people are able to handle a few drinks without creating a scene, many cannot. There have been reports of violence, vomiting and the like,- even in controlled environments.

Perhaps you don't mind rowdiness at the movies or will at least put up with it for the sake of being able to drink at a show. However, if Calgary theatres want to sell me a beer, they won't have much luck selling me a ticket.

Counterpoint: Jackie Panera thinks booze should be sold at the movies.

Wouldn't it be great if you could wash your popcorn down with a cool refreshing beer, or your milk duds down with your favorite wine cooler? This may soon be a reality as the Famous Players theatre chain is conducting research to determine if patrons would welcome booze in the movie theatre.

Of course, a person would have to be of legal drinking age to buy an alcoholic beverage. However, people who oppose the idea argue it will promote underage drinking. Let's be serious. Movie theatre concession prices are less than reasonable, so I can't imagine an underage kid wanting to spend up to $12 to see a movie, $8 for snacks and $5 for a beer. Besides, the kids who want to drink booze in a movie theatre are already sneaking flasks in their coats, so that they can add rum to their over-sized and over-priced soft drink.

In addition, opponents argue it will promote drunk driving, but why single out movie theatres? What about bars and restaurants that already serve alcohol to their patrons without a limited number of beverages? At least movie theatres plan to restrict the number of alcoholic beverages that they will be able to serve at two per person, and no hard alcohol will be served. And really, people who come to a theatre to watch a movie are not going to want to get up every ten minutes to get another beer. If they really want to drink that much, they will go to their local pub and not the movie theatre.

I'm also not concerned about the boisterous viewers that shout out comments during the movie because they can't hold their liquor anymore than I'm concerned about the people sitting next to me who can't turn off their cell phones or pagers. Perhaps the alcohol will give people the liquid courage to tell others to kindly shut off their electronic devices while the movie is playing. And at least you can tell a drunk viewer to be quiet, what about parents who bring their screaming babies into the theatre?

Let's not forget that movie theatres are a popular location for first dates. Maybe the addition of alcohol will be a good ice breaker so people will stop worrying if they have any spinach between their teeth.

Besides, having a nice cold one in your hand may help ease the fact that you have to sit through ten minutes of advertisements and eight minutes of previews before you get to see the movie that you paid for. I would much rather see a campaign against these advertisements. Now, those are annoying.

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Comments

DWI, drunk driving, dui, and a license to drink.
Madd, sadd, radd, A.A., and Alanon related.

Copyright: 1987-2005 © Bruce Alm. Documentation is available.

The answer to the problem of drunk driving, etc. could be this; a permit for the purchase and consumption of alcohol beverages.

This would not only be a major assault on the problem of drunk driving, but would also have an effect on virtually all other crimes such as these;
murder, rape, assault, burglary, robbery, suicide, vandalism, wife beating, child beating, child molestation, the spread of aids, college binge drinking, animal cruelty, etc., the list is endless.

If this proposition was made law, there could be a major reduction in all these areas of concern, even though the emphasis concerning alcohol abuse seems to be drunk driving in particular.

There could also be many other positive results;

families healed, better work performance, booze money spent on products that would help the economy (we've all heard of the guy who spends half his check in the bar on payday,) would spare many health problems, etc.

This new law could go something like this:

Any person found guilty of any crime where drinking was a factor would lose the right to purchase and/or consume alcohol beverages.

For a first misdemeanor, a three year revocation. a second misdemeanor, a ten year revocation. a third misdemeanor, a lifetime revocation. Any felony crime, an automatic lifetime revocation.
Anyone caught drinking alcohol without a permit would receive a possible $1000 fine and/or jail sentence. those who would supply alcohol to people without a drinking permit (and possibly make money at it,) would also lose his/her right to purchase alcohol beverages.

What wife or husband would buy an alcoholic spouse a bottle?

What friend would give a problem drinker a drink at the possible cost of a thousand bucks and the loss of their own privilege? This could be a total discouragement to these would-be pushers.

This permit doesn't seem as though it would be a problem to put into effect. It could simply be a large X, or whatever, on the back of any drivers license in any state, to show who has been revoked, and cannot purchase alcohol.

Most people of drinking age have a driver's license, but one area that might be a problem could be New York City, where many people don't drive.

This problem could be resolved, however, by a license-type I.D. specifically for the purchase of alcohol beverages. Most, if not all states have these already for the purpose of identification.
This could be a small price to pay for the saved lives of thousands of Americans each and every year.

After this, it would simply be a matter of drinking establishments checking I.D.s at the time of purchase.
In the case of crowded bars, they could simply check I.D.s at the door, as they do now.

Would this be a violation of rights?

There can be no argument here since they already check I.D.s of people who look as though they may not be old enough to drink.

This could be a good saying, "If a person who doesn't know how to drive shouldn't have a license to drive, a person who doesn't know how to drink shouldn't have a license to drink."

Here are some other pluses to this idea:

A good percentage of people in correctional institutions are there because of alcohol related offences . Because of this, court, penal, and law enforcement costs could drop dramatically.

The need for A.A., ALANON, MADD, SADD, etc., could be greatly diminished as well.

What the alcoholic fears most, is the temptation to have that first drink, usually a spur of the moment type thing. Without the ability to do this, he/she is fairly safe. To start drinking again would almost have to be planned in advance. and to maintain steady drinking would be extremely difficult, in most cases.

Even though A.A. members as a group don't become involved in political movements, it seems as individuals, they would all be in favor of a situation like this. Any person who wants to quit drinking, even if never having been in trouble with the law, could simply turn in their license for the non-drinking type.

A woman from MAAD, on the NBC TODAY show, said "One out of every ten Americans has a drinking problem, and that 10% consumes 60% of all alcohol beverages sold in the U.S.."
If this is true, there could be financial problems for breweries, liquor stores, bars, rehab centers, etc., as well as lawyers, massive amounts of tax revenue 'down the drain,' and so on.
But it doesn't seem as though anyone would have a valid argument against a proposal such as this for financial reasons. To do so would be morally wrong, and could be likened to a drug-pusher attitude.

Even with the problems this new law could present, it still could, in one sense, be considered the simple solution to the number one drug problem in the U.S. and elsewhere. Alcoholism.

P.S.

What ever happened to the skid row drunk?