Eric D. Snider

Ribald for Your Pleasure

Snide Remarks #613

"Ribald for Your Pleasure"

by Eric D. Snider

Published on June 22, 2009

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One of the unusual things about the CineVegas Film Festival, in Las Vegas, is that many screenings are attended by elderly local residents who, unlike their aged counterparts in other places, are not offended when the movies are filthy.

Apart from this and being too tan, elderly Las Vegans aren't much different from the garden-variety senior citizens you'll find clogging highways and populating Sizzlers everywhere else. They make random, out-loud observations about the movie while it's playing; they favor hard butterscotch candies that can only be unwrapped during quiet portions of the film; and they shuffle slowly down the aisle afterward, taking care to walk side-by-side to prevent anyone from passing them.

What separates them from old people in other places is that they'll watch anything. The closing-night film at CineVegas was "World's Greatest Dad," a very dark comedy written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait, one of those chubby comedians from the 1980s who used to scream a lot (but not the one who died; that was Sam Kinison). "World's Greatest Dad" is chockablock with naughty words and vulgar conversations and is not for the faint of heart.

I knew this going in, so I was amused to see an elderly couple sitting in front of me. They had no idea what the movie was about. They had bought CineVegas passes and were just watching whatever was playing. Before the movie began, the woman was on her cell phone bragging to someone about how she'd had her photo taken with Jack Nicholson, and I was going to gently inform her that the Nicholsonian man who'd been hanging around the film festival all week was merely a lookalike, but then I thought Why ruin her fun? And I also thought Why talk to an old person if I don't have to?

Once the movie began, I thought for sure the old people would be mortified by its salacious content and exit the theater. That is what most old people would do. In Utah, where I lived for 10 years, old people go to movies specifically so they CAN be offended. It's how they pass the time.

ONE OLD PERSON: Dear, let's go to the moving pictures tonight and walk out of something in a huff.
A DIFFERENT OLD PERSON, TO WHOM THE FIRST OLD PERSON WAS SPEAKING: Why, that sounds delightful, dear! Let's be sure to park near a liquor store so we can glare disapprovingly at the people going into it.

Of course, it's not just the elderly who are bothered by ribald content. Sometimes younger people are as well. Last November I wrote a parody of "Twilight" that was subsequently copied and pasted onto a lot of blogs and Facebook pages belonging to teenage girls, teenage girls being the demographic least likely to understand things like "unauthorized reproduction," "copyright infringement," and "common sense." (In their defense, they've never lived in a world without the Internet, which has made all of those things murky, if not obsolete.) One blogger posted it on her site after getting it from her little sister's Facebook page, where it appeared without attribution. The beginning of my parody describes Phoenix, Ariz., as a "hellish, uninhabitable wasteland," but either the blogger or her little sister deemed this inappropriate and changed it to "suckish, uninhabitable wasteland," which somehow seems even more vulgar to me. What do these girls do at church when hell is mentioned? Mentally replace it with the word "suck"?

Revelation 20:14 -- "And death and suck were cast into the lake of fire."

Matthew 18:9 -- "It is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into suck fire."

Matthew 23:33 -- "Ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of suck?" (Sorry: "the stinknation of suck.")

But back to the old people in Las Vegas. Despite the outrageously offensive things that occurred in "World's Greatest Dad," they didn't budge. Nor did they laugh or appear to enjoy themselves, but they didn't budge. At one point in the film an obnoxious teenager says to his father's girlfriend, "Goodnight, whore," leading the old couple in front of me to have this conversation:

OLD MAN: Goodnight what?

Like all conversations conducted by old people during movies, this one was held at full volume. Old people leave their homes so infrequently that when they do, they forget they have done so and continue to behave as if they were still in their living rooms. Remember that the next time some old people annoy you at the movies, and be grateful that they've at least kept their pants on (assuming they have).

But this was nothing compared to the ancient couple at another screening several years ago whom I threatened to kill. The movie was "House of Sand and Fog," a very quiet, somber film starring Ben Kingsley and what's-her-name, the pretty girl with the Groucho Marx eyebrows. Jennifer Connelly. Yes. So this old couple behind me consisted of a decrepit gentleman whose gnarled, useless ears no longer received transmissions; and a dilapidated woman, presumably his wife, who kindly repeatedly all the major dialogue to him. It was a packed theater and a quiet movie. When two people spoke in a conversational tone, you heard it all over the auditorium. And these people talked A LOT.

First, of course, I turned around and gave them the raised-eyebrows stare. That's standard protocol. When they continued to talk for several minutes, I turned around and said, "Shh!" That's also a time-honored practice. It's as ancient as shaking hands. It's in the Magna Carta.

Several more minutes went by, and the old man continued to say "What?" and the old woman continued to serve as a human closed-captioning device. I shushed them again. The problem was that with the stadium seating, when I turned around to face them I was really only facing their knees, and their dim, rheumy eyes were on the screen. They might not have even heard my declarations of "Shh!," and they probably didn't see me turning around to look at them.

Finally, with just 20 minutes left in the film and the onscreen story reaching its emotionally devastating climax, the old people talked again. This time, I'd had it. I turned around, stood up so they'd know I was speaking to them, and said in a quiet but forceful voice, "Stop talking or I will kill you."

From a legal standpoint, I don't think that constitutes an actual "threat," at least not the kind that's against the law. If I'd been brandishing a weapon when I said it, or if I'd written my threat down -- which I did consider -- then it would have been. And obviously if I had actually killed them, that would have gotten me into some hot water with the local constabulary.

But it didn't come to that. That's because -- and this is why, despite my seemingly disproportionate response, I do not entirely regret it -- my threat worked. The couple was quiet for the rest of the movie. I was very glad, too, since I had sworn to kill them if they talked again, and I am nothing if not a man of my word. I didn't want to murder them, though, so I guess my promise was a bit risky. I'm sure as suck glad they didn't call my bluff!

Stumble It!


At first this column was just about old people being offended (or not offended) by movies, and then it was about old people and movies in general, and then there was the tangent about the "Twilight" thing, and then I tried to wrestle it all into something cohesive, and then I gave up and left it like this, which is actually 10 times better than it was when I started. (In other words, if you think this is bad, you should see the crap I don't publish!)

Longtime readers may recall another time that I told someone to shut up, except that time I actually got in trouble for it.

(Note: The reason the podcast says this was published June 29 instead of the real date, June 22, is that I'm mentally retarded.)

This item has 36 comments

  1. Mary says:

    I especially enjoy your tangent ridden remarks because they are funnier than your most well thought out "Snide Remarks." It is around four in the morning where I am (I'm a long time insomniac, if that isn't already obvious) and so everyone else is asleep and needless to say (I'm saying it anyway) I had to stifle my laughter with my fist while I was reading this so no one would wake up. I know it's sad but this website is a bright spot in my suckish life (yes, that was a reference to the hell & suck thing.)

  2. john doe says:

    I loved the column. I'm sure most of us don't care if the column isn't perfectly cohesive, as long as it's entertaining. I doubt I'd ever have to courage to tell someone to shut up like that, but it makes me happy that Eric did.

  3. Porthos says:

    When I went to see Tropic Thunder there was an elderly couple behind us, this was in Utah so I was paranoid they were going to end up offended....they were laughing harder than us.

  4. Matt says:

    There are age restrictions at the movies for people under 17. What about those over 65 that probably will not be able to hear or understand what is going on. I am 26 and am fully aware that if I am not able to keep up with the pace of things then I will not make others suffer for it. I went with my girlfriend to see The Hangover, some teenage kids were talking really loud in the front during the previews ( for some movies that is the best part) when some employees came and escorted them out. I started clapping (becuase I am a jerk)and to my suprise others joined in, one man calling them "little bast**ds" HILARIOUS! That really has nothing to do with the Snide Remarks, but teenagers and old people are a lot alike, most of them are annoying.

  5. spiceybiscuit says:

    Prime reason why I try to go to the 9 am showing if possible on a saturday or sunday morning. Place is clean, popcorn fresh (yes popcorn for breakfast ya me!) The elderly aren't there in moves that early (normally, sometimes you wil get lucky). Nothing worse though then a hot and steamy scene and there is an elderly person sitting behind, next, side of you.

  6. Marie says:

    Can't this brilliant post be condensed and made into a public service announcement? placed right between don't-do-drugs and spay-&-neuter-your pets? Because as obvious as it seems to Eric and his blog-readers, I don't think that the world knows much about being SILENCIO! during a movie. I recently went to see UP and the woman next to me was helping her toddler son read every written word on the screen. "Sound it out, honey!" Oh my gawd, woman, please do not go all Sylvan Learning right here in the movie theater.

  7. vivster says:

    Spiceybiscuit, the timing sounds very good, but I would warn you and everyone to keep an eye on the popcorn at that hour. My family went to a movie last Thanksgiving and had a really awful experience. We went to the earliest show possible and got a bag of popcorn. I was busy with our littlest one, so neither of us got any of the popcorn. That night (after the wonderful dinner), my husband and two little boys were up all night with food poisoning. I ate everything that they did, except the popcorn, and didn't get sick at all. We're guessing that they got lazy at the theater and didn't change out the popcorn. I'm hoping that they aren't all turned off the tasty Thanksgiving food because of that. We'll see.

  8. Savvy Veteran says:

    That's one heck of a Snide Remarks. Now if everyone doesn't mind, I'll just be over here in the corner, publishing this, without attribution or linkage, to my nonexistent blog.

    But seriously, I was dying after the "whore" conversation. Terrific.

  9. Turkey says:

    The only thing that could have made that story more awesome would have been if, after you threatened that couple, the old man turned to his wife and said, "What did he say?"

    Old people at the Celtic Woman concert kept blabbing, too. I wanted to swear at them, but they were at an awkward angle behind us and it would have looked like I was swearing at the folks next to them instead.

    Vivster, having worked at many a movie theater in my youth, I find it hard to believe that it was the popcorn that was the source of the intestinal distress you describe. Lots of other food items there, absolutely. But popcorn is popcorn. It goes stale, but it doesn't go BAD, you know? It's not exactly perishable is what I'm saying. The only other things added to it are salt (again, no food poisoning), and the melted oil that serves as "butter flavoring." It's heated up in the morning and at the end of the day what's left over is poured back into the containers and left to harden until the next day when it's poured back into the heaters and melted/heated up again. I don't even think it's ever refrigerated because, well, it's oil (duh) and you go through it pretty quickly anyway to never have the need. The popcorn popping machines are dismantled as much as possible every night with everything washed and then inspected by the management, and believe me, management loves the authority of getting to tell retarded teenagers they didn't do a good enough job and they have to do it over again. I really don't see the popcorn as being the problem. If it helps, food poisoning, contrary to popular belief, can manifest itself up to ten days after the incident. They could have had something prior to that day, or you didn't exhibit symptoms until well after that day. Something to think about.

  10. Melissa says:

    Halfway through reading this I understood the title. Eww....

  11. Tkangaroo says:

    "I'm sure as suck glad they didn't call my bluff!" That was my favorite. For the first time, I just listened to the podcast while working, instead of reading your column. I nearly spit water all over my work computer. Awesome!

  12. Adam says:

    What do you want me to do? I have the guy the half-turn. Then I gave him the full-turn with the eye roll! I mean, beyond that, I'm risking a punch in the mouth.

  13. Critter says:

    The interesting thing when seen in comparison to the article is the google ad to the right. "Medical Guardian: Helping Seniors live an independent life at home." Awesome...and emphasis on HOME.

  14. Strude says:

    Suck Fire. That's going to be the name of my new band, with "Declarations of Shh!," as our first album.

  15. Woglet says:

    My favorite old people experience was a few years back, living in New Jersey. Three weeks in a row my husband and I ended up in a matinee with the same elderly Jewish couple. The first couple of times, the movie was actually good, so we were annoyed. But the third movie was Keeping the Faith, and listening to the wife explain it to her husband was better than the movie. (Why is it always the women explaining to the men?)

    "That Edward Norton from American History X is in love with the Dharma girl."

    "You said he was a priest!"

    "He is a priest, that's the plot!"

    "Why is the rabbi involved?"

    "That Ben Stiller, the rabbi, he loves her too. She should stick with the rabbi, he needs a nice tall wife."

  16. David Manning says:

    I remember the hilarious phrase "gnarled, useless ears" from another classic column:

    As a poor non-film critic commoner, I have to put up with loud and inconsiderate audiences basically every time I go to the movies. "No Country for Old Men" was ruined for me the first time I saw it (the only time I saw it in a theater), because of two old ladies who talked constantly, drowning out several instances of EXTREMELY important dialogue to the point where I could no longer understand the film. I wanted to choke them.

    I've had similar experiences while trying to watch such films as "Drag Me to Hell" and "Up," too. ("Up" was a terrible experience in that three couples each brought a screaming baby: the first couple recognized the inconvenience they were causing and left 15 minutes into the movie, and the second couple followed their example several minutes later; the third couple, whom I wish unholy, fiery death upon, never left the theater, and their baby cried throughout the ENTIRE PICTURE.)

  17. Loonmj says:

    Strude, I would totally listen to a band called Suck Fire.

  18. David Cornelius says:

    I'm imagining this extension:

    Eric: "Shut up or I will kill you."
    Gramps: "What did he say?"
    Granny: "He said shut up or I will kill you."
    Gramps: "HUH?"
    Granny: "He said shut up or I will kill you."
    Gramps: "YOU'LL WHAT?"
    Granny: "KILL YOU."
    Gramps: "Kill WHO?"
    Granny: "YOU."
    Gramps: "ME?"
    Granny: "YES."
    Gramps: "OH."
    (long silence)
    Gramps: "IS THAT GANDHI?"
    (Gramps unwraps cellophane ball. Eric grabs rope, hangs self.)

  19. JS says:

    "And death and suck were cast into the lake of fire."


  20. Chocolatestu says:

    For some reason, although I'm reading "death and suck", in my head I'm hearing "duck and seth." Poor Duck and Seth. They don't deserve to be cast into the lake of fire...

  21. Momma Snider says:

    I just want to let Eric know that his dear Great-Aunt Lois, who is one of his biggest fans, was offended by this column. But she hastened to assure me that she wasn't really, and that last time Eric made fun of old people, she let him have it, so he assured her that she's not old.

    Also, when I went to see "Drag Me to Hell" with Eric and Chris a few weeks ago, it was teenagers making noise behind us. And Eric told them to shut up, which I thought was harsh. I'm glad he didn't use any stronger words than that, although he had already made me say "hell" when he allowed me to buy the tickets. I liked it.

  22. Eric D. Snider says:

    Oh, but those teenagers were just being obnoxious. The couple in the movie kisses, so the teens in the audience make loud kissy "woo-hoo!" noises. They needed to be told a lot more things than just "shut up," that's for sure.

    And Aunt Lois might literally be the oldest living person I know. Never been to the movies with her, though, so I don't know if she behaves herself. Not that it would matter. My shushing is no respecter of persons!

  23. Ryan says:

    Yeah, I believe that movie is actually called "Drag Me to Suck"

  24. Joe in Seattle says:

    Hey, are they making another sequel to Suckboy?

  25. Bridget Jack Meyers says:

    Momma Snider, when swear words are in the Bible, you can say them. That means hell, damn and ass are all OK with Jesus.

  26. Ellen Kimball says:

    I don't know whether to be offended because I'm an elderly movie critic or to join the club and dish about the "screening rats" and people in theaters in a more general way. Eric, I'd like to personally apologize for my 75-year-old husband, who managed to slip away to dreamland several times at the "Year One" screening. He is a real pain in the ass because of narcolepsy. He can fall asleep anywhere. I hope his snoring didn't disturb you. Luckily, he did wake up long enough to laugh at the foreskin jokes because he's Jewish and circumcised and all that jazz.

    I'm a Grandma 70 years old and have been reviewing movies since the 1950s. While I try to remain silent at films, sometimes something occurs to me which I just must share with my guest. If there's no guest, I might blurt something out just for the preview audience. I can't help it... I'm loquacious! So shoot me!

    With years of radio under my belt (and showing, damn it), when dead air occurs, I try to fill it. Husband of 36 years slams me regularly with, "Can I just SAY SOMETHING while you take a breath?" I know I should have married the young Christian guy who was my radio engineer in 1971 and who loved me but wouldn't move from Florida to Massachusetts because of the cold. He emailed me recently that he feels he is learning when others are talking. He is a confirmed bachelor and has no children.

    Also, when attending with my grandchildren, all bets are off. Things slip on the floor, kids have to go to the bathroom, there is a general rustle while I find the particular nap to go with the particular kid. Chaos ensues when I have two grandkids with me. WARNING.... one or both of them will be at the Saturday 6/28 screening of ICE AGE.

    In rebuttal, we elderly have had to sit next to people-of-all-ages who smell from cigarettes, body odor, dirty clothing, and who consume massive amounts of greasy nachos, popcorn and other items which we are studiously trying to avoid as we age.

    I do have a great deal of understanding for young folks who bring their babies or young children to movies which are clearly not designed for kids. The screaming, sniffling, body movements and other distractions are difficult. The first movie I took my grandson to see was "Finding Nemo." The screening was totally full and he had to sit on my lap. I felt his sweet little body stiffen when the sharks came into view. He wet his diaper and so my lap got a little doused. But, he's flesh of my flesh, so what can I do? I love that little guy, now eight years old. He has seen so many old movies with Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munshin and Judy Garland that he must hold some kind of an elementary school record. Our older grandson, now age 20, was so indoctrinated in films and theater that he is a student of media at Mass. College of Liberal Arts in N. Adams, Mass.

    In my salad days, critics like Kevin McCarthy (RIP) and others in Boston went to previews especially for us. Most of them were held at the elegant Cheri Theater and it was a nice environment to chat with the other few folks who were writing reviews for the press.

    Those days are gone forever. I hope that movie theaters survive, but what is really neat is being able to share our love for this art form which has dominated my life. It's nice to chat with all of you. Just remember thiat: If you're lucky, you will all get old someday. After all, what's the option???


    Ellen Kimball
    Portland, OR

  27. Q says:

    Uh oh--someone forgot to give Grandma Kimball her meds...

  28. Asur says:

    Yeah for angry letters!! I forgot how much fun they made Snide Remarks.

  29. andré garcia says:

    ahahhahah u r brilliant do you know that? i can tell you love bad people (NOT!"), AHAHHAHA, god...i hope i dont end up like that, but then i dont have friends i go to the theatres with, so when im old ill keep quiet too...

  30. Asur says:

    I'm trying to interpret #29...and falling short. Somebody help me! I'm presuming the (NOT!") is to highlight sarcasm...but if you have to highlight it, are you doing it right? And what's with that lone quote mark. I keep laughing at the "i can tell you love bad people" since this column was about old people. In this persons mind I'm assuming old=bad. Then things just fall apart in the second...sentence? I don't see any lone periods or capitalization, aside from the diabolic laughter, so it is hard to tell.

  31. annie says:

    I'm an old broad,and I have been going to movies since the age of three.Never once in all those years have I whispered or talked out loud during a movie.On the other hand,little children 20-somethings and teenagers have ruined many a movie for me.And since the advent of cell phones,things have only gotten worse.

    Anyway..I know this is supposed to be a fun blog sort of thing,but remember,Kiddo...hopefully some day you will be an old fart as well,and will catch yourself acting in an imperfect way in front of other,younger people.I think by then,you will probably be shot for your behavior.Not only will younger people threaten to kill you,they will.

  32. Nathan says:

    Not only was this article hilarious, so were so many of the ensuing comments! Thanks to all of you!

  33. Felix says:

    'Suck' could actually be some kind of censor. On a virtual facebook game (yoville) the computer automatically replaces swearwords with the word 'yadda'. So everyone walks around saying things like 'yadda you' and 'yaddahole' and it's all very entertaining. Great column!

  34. Hal says:

    The "suck" schtick cracked me up.

  35. Valia says:

    We're old people (66 and 72) who haven't been to a movie in a theater in years. Looks like we haven't been holding up our end of things and may have to forfeit our curmudgeon certification.

    I want to see "The Fighter" since I grew up near Lowell, MA. Looks like I need to work on my vocal techniques if I want to outshout Dickie Ward.

    See you in Suck.

  36. Karen says:

    Since this article was written, I am no longer content with raising my eyebrows or shushing inconsiderate people. Particularly if they're using a cell phone during the movie, they don't get a warning. They get bombarded with Raisinets.

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