So I'm at the movie theater near Clifford Estates in Panyu (don't ask me why I was in Panyu. I don't even know why) the other night watching the movie, "The Hunger Games," for the second time, and throughout the entire movie the Chinese people (there were no other foreigners in the theater besides myself) just wouldn't shut up. They just kept yapping senselessly the entire time as if they were not even paying attention to the story.
My Chinese is now good enough that I can understand some conversations I overheard and although I was surprised neither by they fact that they were talking nor by what they were saying, my lack of surprise failed to diminish my desire to jump up and shout out "Shut the fuck up! I'm trying to watch the fucking movie!"
I restrained myself however, and tolerated the constant, distracting side banter. Sometimes they would ask each other inane questions about what was happening in the movie such as "What is he doing?" or "Why is she doing that?" or "Is he going to die?" I thought to myself, "If only I could express the following sentence in Chinese: "Watch the fucking movie and you will understand it!""
The most annoying example of this behavior was during a particularly emotional scene in the movie. Suddenly someone's cell starts ringing. Of course they could not have turned it on vibrate before the movie began. Of course, they couldn't answer it after the first second or even third ring. Of course they couldn't possibly think to have the courtesy to take the call outside. No, the girl just let it ring a few times and then answered it in a loud casual voice as if she were the only one in the theater, or as if she were watching the movie alone at home. She had no regard for anyone else who was trying to be engaged in the story on the screen. She conversed casually with someone for a minute about some place she was going the next day to meet someone to get something them. When she hung up she then repeated the whole conversation to her male companion in an equally loud voice.
I know I have lived in China long enough that a thing like this is no longer supposed to bother me but I cannot help wanting to share my annoyed feeling here.
Seriously Chinese people. What the fuck? Can't I just go to a movie at the theater and watch it without people talking loudly throughout it, asking each other senseless questions that would be answered if they were actually watching it, letting their phones ring loudly and then having loud conversations on the phone in the theater instead of taking the call outside?
Why is it that Chinese people have no courtesy for others when watching a movie at the theater?
It's that same arrogant attitude that comes out on occasion where Chinese people act as if they are the only one in the world and whatever other people around them are thinking, wanting or have already paid 60 RMB for, doesn't mean shit. It's just like in the metro station or on a crowded sidewalk when a Chinese person will suddenly stop in the middle of the moving pack. They may be stopping because they have to answer their phone or simply because they are lost. Sometimes when I see Chinese people stopping like that for apparently no reason I think they might be confused or as the Chinese say "Yun" (晕). Whatever the reason for their seemingly senseless stopping in the middle of a crowd may be, i still don't understand how they can so easily lack the presence of mind to have the courtesy to step off to the side of the moving crowd before suddenly and abruptly halting.
I have decided that the reason is this: They just don't care. They don't think about anyone else but themselves. There are no standards for common courtesy in China. People in China are simply 不注意. They are oblivious. They don't pay attention to their surroundings and don't think or care about others around them.
Maybe this has something to do with the so called "Monkey Complex," or the idea that when there are so many people to pass by every day people are less concerned for strangers. This idea doesn't really hold up so well back home though. I have lived in large cities most of my life and back home people in the city still follow an unwritten code that is a standard of common courtesy.
The rules of such courtesy may be slightly different in China, especially when it comes to such situations as boarding metro rail, but in my mind for a movie theater or when walking in a crowd of people the rules of courtesy are more of a universal standard than a cultural standard.
All it takes is to recognize that there are other people around you who are entitled to your respect and then to give them that respect.
It's like that Russian guy on the train, Oleg Vedernikov. He puts his feet up on the seat and pisses off some Chinese woman and the whole country goes berserk.
I just want to watch a movie without people talking loudly throughout it but if I had even once raised my voice to silence any of those idiots in the theater, what would have happened to me? Would I be mauled by a gang of angry Chinese movie goers, insisting that I was being a bad Laowai for correcting their excessively discourteous behavior? Probably not, but then again who knows?
Any time a Chinese person offends a foreigner in China we are expected to let it roll like water off a duck's back. Any time a foreigner slights a local however, it's like the fucking Cultural Revolution has to begin all over again and any Chinese within sight or earshot needs to give the foreign devil a earful of how he is abusing "我们的人民."
It's like that poor African guy who died in jail after he argued with a motorcycle taxi driver. I don't know what happened. Maybe the driver was trying to cheat the African maybe it was the other way around. All I know from the news story was that the dispute caught the attention of other Chinese nearby who naturally took the side of their countryman. The African suffered some injuries to his body. He was taken away by the police and died in jail that night. It's a fucking shame what can happen to a foreigner in this country when he is trying to stand up for himself against the locals and their arrogance.
I know it's not all of you Chinese people who are like this. I know there are rude Americans who will act the same way in movie theaters sometimes. I am an American and don't speak for foreigners from other countries so don't make it a "Chinese vs Foreigner" issue. I hate it when Chinese lump me together with other foreigners who are not Americans as if all foreigners were the same just because we are not Chinese. I don't even speak for all other Americans. I only speak for myself when I say,
"Shut the fuck up and let me watch the god damn movie!"