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Lights Camera Ashton

Lights, Camera, Ashton: Turn off your phone in theaters

Will Ashton urges readers to turn their phones off in theaters.

People: If you are at the movies, turn your goddamn phone off.

I don’t usually try to be so blunt. However, I’m sick and tired of seeing some jackass’ bright-blue phone light flash me in the face every time I’m trying to watch a movie. It’s like when you’re driving at night, and some idiot forgets to turn his high beams off. You’re blinded for like 10 seconds and can’t see the road. Yes, it’s just as distracting and annoying — even if it’s not a matter of life or death.

You think you’re being sneaky when you do it. You’re not. I don’t care how much you want to text your friend. It can wait. Seriously, if you have an emergency, get up, go to the lobby and address it there. There’s no reason why I have to keep getting a light in my face or any of my fellow theatergoers’ face when we’re spending our hard-earned money enjoying the magic of the movies.

If I were to shine a flashlight in your face while you were trying to sleep, you would be at least annoyed, right? These may sound like extremes because we’re all so used to having phones on us at all times, but that’s exactly what it’s like.

You sit down, the lights dim, your eyes adjust to the dark and you focus on the bright, awe-inspiring screen in front of you. Then, out of nowhere, some dumbass turns his bright phone on in the middle of the movie. My eyes feel like they’re being stabbed with lasers, and you know these guys; they don’t just do it once either.

To quote Howard Beale from Network, “I’m mad as hell, and I just can’t take it anymore.” At the very least, go to your phone settings and dim your phone brightness if your Twitter updates are so damn important.

I get that in this day and age, our generation feels this entailment to always have their phones on, shutting off the world around them while satirically connecting to it at the same time. If you’re going to be on your phone the whole time, then why are you even at the movies anyways?

Seriously, movies are about escapism. They’re about exploring different worlds, new characters, thought-provoking themes and ideas. They’re best enjoyed in their grandiose, larger-than-life screens and isolated locations. They’re about lessening problems, not creating new ones. That’s if the movie is any good, of course. 

I know that the concept of not being on your phone is a bit nerve-wracking. I get antsy sometimes if I don’t check my email or see if I have any text messages after a couple of hours. Learn to enjoy the moment once in a while.

I get the irony of telling people to turn off their small screens to look at a big one. But if you can’t turn off your phone for just a couple hours and enjoy an engaging experience in front of you, then get your ass out of my theater and go back to your miserable life — I’m trying to enjoy Matthew McConaughey in space.

Will Ashton is a senior studying journalism and a culture writer for The Post. Email him at or find him on Twitter @thewillofash

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