Phone Wars in Dubai

Jamie Goodwin wonders why so many cinemagoers turn to the Dark Side

Last word, The Knowledge

In every cinematic narrative, there’s a hero and a villain. You know the hero because he’s the one of sound moral fibre, respectful of his fellow man and of society’s rules. You know the villain because he exists only to frustrate the hero’s attempts to abide by these rules. Often called the antagonist, his entry is usually announced with theme music, lighting changes or shock techniques. These rigid laws of film exist on both sides of the silver screen.

The last time I visited the cinema (Vox at Mall of the Emirates, in case you’re wondering), the villain of the piece was a nasty creature indeed. His theme music was a shrill beeping; his weapon of choice a cruel beam of blinding energy, not unlike Darth Vader’s lightsaber. This villain was less than a metre away from me. He was the foil in a particularly scary, hide-your-eyes tale called Put Your Phone Away, The Film Has Started!

It was the story of a regular guy (me) who just wanted to introduce some excitement to his life. Think Luke Skywalker on Tatooine, but swap the craving for a Jedi apprenticeship with a desire for nothing more than a bucket of popcorn and the suspension of his disbelief. Yet this simple pleasure was seemingly too much to bear for the evil Vader in the seat in front of him. Not a scene of the movie would pass without the gruesome Sith lord withdrawing his torturous smartphone device to send an evil text message to an equally wicked friend (the Emperor, presumably).

The Dark Side of the Force then compelled our foe to lean across to his minions to make a booming observation about the film we were all trying to watch, before launching into a shrill cackle that sent a shiver down the spines of everyone in the theatre. And finally, in his most dastardly trick, the powerful cyborg waited until our hero’s eyes had again adjusted to the darkness before cruelly burning his retinas with the Goofs page on his phone’s IMDB app.

Our protagonist had to summon every last ounce of virtue not to tip his righteous bucket of popcorn over the ghastly head of this sinister cinemagoer. Lucky for him, our champion never gave in to the hate of the Dark Side. Although he really wanted to.

Oi, Darth! If you’re reading this: put your phone away – the film has started!

Jamie Goodwin is our assistant online editor. Next time someone uses their phone in the cinema, he will use the Force

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